Psalm 35: The Plea of the Persecuted Christian! 1. A Plea for God's Help Psalm 35:1-3

Text:  “Plead my cause, O Lord (Jehovah), with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.”
                                                                                                                      Psalm 35:1.

Good morning, persecuted Christian!  This is a day of anti-Christian apostasy and continued, and increasing, persecution of those of us who are Spiritually regenerate, Bible-believing, Christian followers of the Living Lord Jesus Christ.  Fact.

In an earlier Bible Lesson in this Searching In Psalms series I wrote: “As we witness ‘the falling away’ of the professing Christian church, we can clearly see how today’s outward professing church has been smitten, as it were, with a plague of flattering hypocrisy! 

"True Christians, including my humble self, can become very cynical in the midst of such an apostate plague.  Perhaps our cynicism is a healthy one?  We must be very alert in this increasingly apostate age.  All these signs are being fulfilled daily!

Perilous Times:  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”    (2 Timothy 3:1)  Pakistan. Vietnam. China. Nigeria. The Sudan. India. Burma. Iran.  These nations are imprisoning, persecuting, and even burning believers in their church buildings and in their homes DAILY - and we hear little fuss about it on the international news channels!  Please pay particular attention to these prophesied facts, Christian friend.”  (Searching in the Psalms, 2. A Plague of Flattering Hypocrisy! Psalm 12:2, Dr C.K. McClinton)

With the facts of these anti-Christian persecutions clearly in view, Psalm 35 becomes even more relevant to any Christian believer who, at this crucial time in the prophetic history of God’s dealings with mankind, feels under such pressures, and in desperate need of Divine help and Spiritual support.

“Title: ‘A Psalm of David.’  Here is all we know concerning this Psalm, but internal evidence seems to fix the date of its composition in those troublous times when Saul hunted David over hill and dale and when those who fawned upon the cruel king slandered the innocent object of his wrath, or it may be referred to the unquiet days of frequent insurrections in David’s old age.  The whole Psalm is the appeal to Heaven of a bold heart and a clear conscience irritated beyond measure by oppression and malice.  Beyond a doubt, David’s Lord may be seen here by the Spiritual eye.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 169)

When beset by such cruel, unjust, persecutions, slander, and ill-treatment, Psalm 35 can be offered up by the clear-conscienced Christian as his/her personal plea to God for a prompt and Divine ‘confounding’ of our anti-Christian enemies. 

“Bonar entitles this Psalm, ‘The awful utterance of the Righteous One regarding those that hate Him without cause’; and he makes the following remarks thereupon: ‘On that day when their views of justice shall be far clearer and fuller than now, we shall be able to understand how Samuel could hew Agag in pieces and the godly hosts of Israel slay utterly in Canaan man and woman and child, at God’s command.  We shall be able, not only to agree in the doom, ‘Let them be confounded,’ etc., but even to sing, ‘Amen, Hallelujah,’ over the smoke of torment (Revelation 19:1-2).”  (Treasury of David, page 169)

What is contained within the God-breathed Scriptures – Old Testament and New – should be what informs our conscience, not popular trends, and the shifting moral standards of international worldly opinion.  God’s Word alone is TRUTH.

“Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.”  (John 17:17)

Verse 1.  “Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me. Doth the world condemn thee for thy zeal in the service of God?  Reproachfully scorn thee for thy care to maintain good works?  Not blush to traduce thee with imputations of preciseness, conceited singularity, Pharisaical hypocrisy?  Oh but if thy conscience condemns thee not all this while, if that be rectified by the sacred Word of God, if thou aim at His glory in pursuing thine own Salvation, and side not with the disturbers of the church, go on, good Christian, in the practice of piety, discourage not thyself in thy laudable endeavours, but recount with comfort that the Lord is thy Judge (1 Cor. 4:4).” (Isaac Craven’s Sermon at Paul’s Cross, 1630)

Verse 1.  “…Fight against them that fight against me.  My enemies are much too powerful for me, Lord, please fight against them with Thy Almighty power.  Confound Thine enemies, oh Lord!’  This is a prayerful plea that all who seek to forthrightly serve the risen Christ must constantly pray.

“Not by my power or by my might, but by Thy Spirit, O Lord of hosts.”  (Zechariah 4:6) (my paraphrase)

Verse 3.  “Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, ‘I am thy Salvation.’”  Sincere, Bible-believing Christians are called by God to ‘…put on the whole armour of God…’, but we are not to try to fight Spiritual battles in our own power or strength, or wisdom.  The Battle is not ours, but God’s, and it is God that does the actual ‘fighting’, and it is the Lord God Who assures us, therefore, of complete and utter Victory – in Christ Jesus.  Hallelujah!  In Christ, we are invincible!  Glory, all glory to the Victorious Lamb, Christ Jesus!

Thought:  In times of increased persecution of Christian Bible-believers – let us increase our prayerful petitions to the Lord for His Almighty and All-powerful help?  We already have the full Victory through the Cross of Christ.

8. God's Promise to God-Fearing Christians Psalm 34:17-22

Text: “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth (delivers and continues to deliver) them out of ALL their troubles.”
                                                                                                                  Psalm 34:17.

Good morning, God-fearing Christian!  After teaching us ‘the fear of the Lord’, the Holy Spirit inspires the Psalmist to openly proclaim the Divine deliverance promised to all that will live in godly fear of Almighty Jehovah God.  Verses 17 through to 22 reads as a list of such Divine promises to us ‘His people’, as we endeavour, to the very best of our abilities, to live in the fear and reverence of His Holiness and grace.

Verse 17. “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them.  Note who is doing the crying out, ‘the righteous’ – all those souls made righteous by faith in the full Atonement Sacrifice of Christ Jesus on Calvary’s Cross.  These are ‘the righteous’, there is no other righteousness recognised by God but the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus Himself, and because we are made ‘the righteousness of God in Him...’, our regenerate spirits are drawn to Him in sincere prayer for His help in all our troubles.  Praise God, He always hears our cry and delivers us from ALL our troubles.  Glory and praise to the Lamb!

Verse 18.  “The Lord is nigh (near).  Our God is not a Lord God Who sits afar off from us, but One that is always near, especially when we put away our sin that separates us from His Holy Presence.  He promises to be near us when we are ‘broken-hearted’; and to save those of us who are ‘contrite (showing a genuine sense of personal guilt, wholly penitent) in spirit’.  (Isaiah 59:1-2) (1 John 1:7-9)

Verse 19.  “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”  “The Lawyer can deliver his client but from strife, the physician can deliver his patient but from sickness, the master can deliver his servant but from bondage, but the Lord delivereth us from all.  As when Moses came to deliver the Israelites, he would not leave a hoof behind him, so when the Lord cometh to deliver the righteous, He will not leave a trouble behind him.  He Who saith, ‘I put away all thine iniquities,’ will also say, ‘I put away all thine infirmities.’”  (Henry Smith 1560-1591)

Verse 20.  “He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken.  Eternity will heal all their wounds.  Not a bone of the mystical Body of Christ shall be broken, even as His corporeal frame was preserved intact.  Divine love watches over every believer as it did over Jesus; no fatal injury shall happen to us.  We shall neither be halt nor maimed in the Kingdom, but shall be presented after life’s trials are over without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, being preserved in Christ Jesus and kept by the power of God unto Salvation.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, page 168)

Wow!  What an assurance from the Scriptures of God that we who have been saved are perfectly secured for Eternity!  Even death can merely escort us into God’s Presence, where we are blessed with joy unspeakable.  Hallelujah!  We are SAVED!

“Christ’s bones were in themselves breakable but could not actually be broken by all the violence in the world because God had fore-decreed, ‘A bone of Him shall not be broken,’  So we confess God’s children mortal; but all the power of Devil or man may not, must not, cannot, kill them before their conversion according to God’s election of them to life, which must be fully accomplished.”  (Thomas Fuller 1608-1661)

Verse 21.  “Evil shall slay the wicked; and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.  This verse from Psalm 34, is as much a Divine promise as all the Divine promises that have been expounded thus far in this great Psalm of inspired Scripture.  The entire Psalm is devoted to God’s promise to those of us that ‘fear the Lord’, reverence His Holiness and His Holy Name; worship Him in spirit and it truth. 

‘The wicked’ Defined:  Here in God-breathed Scripture, ‘the wicked’ are clearly defined, and the first characteristic of ‘the wicked’ revealed is his/her hatred of people just as clearly defined as ‘the righteous’.

“The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  (Psalm 9:17)

“Then shall He (Christ Jesus) say unto also unto them (‘the wicked’) on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.”  (Matthew 25:41) 

‘The Righteous’ Defined:  ‘The righteous’ are clearly defined consistently throughout Holy Scripture as those who have been imputed (put to ones account by God’s grace) the total righteousness of Christ Jesus Himself – genuinely born again Christians. 

“For He (God the Father) hath made Him Who knew no sin (God the Son) to be sin for us (‘His people’); that we (the elect of God) might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus Christ).”  (2 Corinthians 5:21) (My paraphrase)

Apart from such Divinely imputed righteousness, there is none righteous, no not one. (Romans 3:10-18)  (Isaiah 64:6)

In verse 21 of Psalm 34 therefore, God has promised that ‘evil shall slay the wicked; and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.’  The terrible fulfilment of this Divine promise shall be pronounced on the day of God’s judgement for ‘the wicked’, the ‘unjust’ – who have practiced no fear of the Lord God, and detested those of us who have been imputed the righteousness of Christ Himself through God’s grace, by His gift of believing/trusting faith.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Verse 22.  “The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants; and NONE of them that trust (believeth) in Him shall be desolate.”  This is God’s promise to those who fear Him.

Thought:  “The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Fear the Lord in this, the day of His grace, be forever SAVED!

7. Teaching the Fear of the Lord Psalm 34:11-16

 Text: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6.

          “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.”
                                                                                                       Colossians 3:16-17.

Good morning, God-fearing  Christian Teacher!  What a wonderful, God-given privilege we have to be entrusted with teaching our children the fear of the Lord; how to know the Lord God; how to receive Christ Jesus as Saviour; how to live lives that will please Him and be assured of His constant Presence and His peace.  Such a blessing, to be entrusted with the Spiritual welfare of our children.  Hallelujah!

“Come ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:11)

Verse 11.  “Come ye children.  When God had created the Heavens and the earth, the first thing He did was to adorn the world with light and separate it from the darkness.  Happy is that child on whom the light of saving knowledge begins to dawn early.  God, in the law, required the firstborn, and the first-fruits, so He doth still our first days, to be offered to Him.”  (Nathanael Hardy 1618-1670)

Teaching our children to grow in the fear and admonition of the Living Lord God Jehovah is the finest act a Christian parent can undertake.  Our children are the future Church, and they need to know true Christian belief from false religious error.

“David, in this latter part of the Psalm, undertakes to teach children; though a man of war and anointed to be king, he did not think it below him: though now he had his head so full of cares, and his hands of business, yet he could find heart and time to give good counsel to young people from his own experience.”  (Matthew Henry 1662-1714)

Children and young adults today, in this increasingly apostate, secular, humanist, 21st Century, just will not easily sit still for a moment and really listen to wise Spiritual instruction.  The advent of the internet and social media interaction seems to give them the false illusion that they know more than their parents/elders, and so often despise our sincere instruction on vital Spiritual matters. 

To really learn, one must first learn to listen.  “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Matthew Henry teaches us what God expects from ‘His people’:
"Observe 1. What He expects from them, ‘Hearken unto Me, leave your play, lay by your toys, and hear what I have to say to you; not only give Me the hearing, but observe and obey Me’.

“Observe 2.  What He undertakes to teach them, ‘The fear of the Lord’, inclusive of all the duties of religion.” (Matthew Henry 1662-1714)  (Treasury of David, page 167)

“David was a famous musician, a statesman, a soldier, but he doth not say to his children, ‘I will teach you to play upon the harp, or to handle the sword or spear, or draw the bow,’ or ‘I will teach you the maxims of state policy,’, but ‘I will teach you the fear of the Lord’, which is better than all arts and sciences, better than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.  This is it which we should be solicitous both to learn ourselves and teach our children.” (Matthew Henry 1662-1714)  (Treasury of David, page 167)

David, and in later history Matthew Henry, both knew how utterly vital it is to have our children instructed in the fear of the Living Lord God Jehovah.  Each knew deep in their hearts that true wisdom is found only in such a godly fear and reverence.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.”  (Proverbs 1:7-9)

Fearing God, means to reverence Him, and to bow down before Him in sincere reverent worship and adoration.  It has nothing to do with dread – unless one is coming before our Holy Lord God with hidden sin in one’s heart.  To fear the Living Lord God is to fear nothing else – knowing that He is our Lord Protector.

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily (truly) God hath heard me; He hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  Blessed (blessed with blessings) be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.” 
(Psalm 66:18-20)

Verses 12 to 16 of Psalm 34 break down into easy to understand concepts what it means to ‘fear the Lord’, and to fellowship with Him in obedience of His truth.

Verse 14.”Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  We must not merely depart from evil and sin; we must also do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

True good is done when we seek to do the will of the Lord God as revealed to us in His written Word, the Bible (KJV).  When we seek to do God’s good will, we are blessed with his peace and assured of His constant fellowship.  Who or what can harm us if we are walking in the close company of the Living Lord God Himself?

Thought:  Let us live in God’s light and teach our children to do likewise.  Amen.