wrong road

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Psalm 36:1-4

Psalm 36:11 An inspired message within my heart concerning the rebellion of the wicked person: Dread of God has no effect on him

Psalm 36:2 because with his smooth opinion of himself, he cannot find and hate his violation.

Psalm 36:3 The words from his mouth are malicious and deceptive; he has stopped acting with insight and doing good.

Psalm 36:4 Even on his bed he makes malicious plans. He sets himself on a road that is not good, and he does not reject evil.

wrong road

Last year when we were hiking the Appalachian Trail, we were joined by a friend. She and another of her friends were just behind us, as we aimed ourselves in the direction of the next shelter on the trail. When my wife and I got to the shelter, we waited a while and one of the two ladies showed up. But we waited a long time and our other friend did not show up. My wife joined our other friend and retraced their steps, but they could not find her.

Our friend had stopped to rest, and when she got back on the trail, had taken it back in the direction in which she had come. By the time she realized her mistake, it was too late to catch up with us.

Today’s text reminded me of that event. It talks about someone caught in rebellion, who only thinks about staying on the path they chose, even though it is the wrong road.

Lord, when we make the wrong choice, give us the wisdom to turn around and get going back in the right direction again.

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1superscription: Of David, Yahveh’ s servant.

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celebrating his victories

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Psalm 35:27-28

Psalm 35:27 Let those who treasure my vindication give a ringing cry and be happy; let them continually say, “Yahveh be exalted. He treasures his servant’s well-being.”

Psalm 35:28 And my tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praise all day long.1

celebrating his victories

The king was in trouble, and the Lord rescued him. Now, both he and those who loved him are committed to regularly and continually celebrating the rescue. God gets the victory both for the rescue of his people, and for his righteousness. It can be said of God that he treasures his servant’s well-being. Was he does illuminates who he is.

During times of difficulty we need to keep celebrating past victories. Those in the desert were to celebrate the Passover victory in Egypt. It was to be a reminder that God rescues because God cares.

Lord, thank you for caring about us. We will celebrate your victories continually.

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1subscription: For the choir director.

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intolerable situations

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Psalm 35:22-26

Psalm 35:22 You saw it, Yahveh; do not be silent. Lord, do not be far from me.

Psalm 35:23 Wake up and rise to my defense, to my dispute, my God and my Lord!

Psalm 35:24 Vindicate me, Yahveh my God, in keeping with your righteousness, and do not let them be happy over me.

Psalm 35:25 Do not let them say in their hearts, “Aha! Just what we wanted.” Do not let them say, “We have swallowed him up!”

Psalm 35:26 Let those who rejoice at my misfortune be disgraced and humiliated; let those who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and reproach.

intolerable situations

David speaks out as someone who is suffering from misfortune, humiliation, shame and reproach. Either he can bury himself in his bad luck, and let fear and anxiety destroy what is left of his life – or he can cry out to God. He has chosen to do the latter. His cry is perfectly understandable. These are not the whines of a spoiled brat. They are the prayers of a man who has been treated unfairly, and who trusts in God to make things right.

If you have never been there, just stay tuned. Lots of God’s people get to a point like that. Like the Genesis Joseph – who spent years in prison for doing the right thing – many of God’s people find themselves in intolerable situations. The times of darkness are there for us to cry out for the light.

Lord, I join many today in crying out to you because things are not right. We need your deliverance. Rescue us.

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a challenge to dig deeper

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Psalm 35:17-21

Psalm 35:17 Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my throat from their ravages; it is abandoned to the young lions.

Psalm 35:18 I will praise you in the great assembly; I will exalt you among many people.

Psalm 35:19 Do not let my deceitful enemies be happy over me; do not let those who hate me without cause wink at me maliciously.

Psalm 35:20 For they do not speak in peaceful ways, but contrive fraudulent schemes against those who live peacefully in the land.

Psalm 35:21 They open their mouths wide against me and say, “Aha, aha! We saw it!”

a challenge to dig deeper

If you compare this translation with others, you might notice a significant difference. I used the word “throat” for נֶפֶשׁ in verse 17. The word can mean either, and it seems to me a better fit to imagine the author saying that his throat is abandoned to the young lions. I have found many such incidents as I translate, where the traditional churchy word is used, but a more secular one is probably intended.

We have many very good translations of the Scriptures in English today. But that does not mean we should stop the process. There is still need for more hard work. I challenge you to dig deeper in the word. There are still more treasures buried there.

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brutal chickens

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Psalm 35:11-16

Psalm 35:11 Malicious witnesses come forward; they question me about things I do not know.

Psalm 35:12 They repay me evil for good, making my soul desolate.

Psalm 35:13 Yet when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer was genuine.

Psalm 35:14 I went about mourning as if for my friend or brother; I was bowed down with grief, like one mourning for a mother.

Psalm 35:15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in happiness; they gathered against me. Assailants I did not know tore at me and did not stop.

Psalm 35:16 With godless mockery they gnashed their teeth at me.

brutal chickens

When I was a boy, my family owned a chicken farm. We raised 30,000 chickens from one day old to harvest – between seven and ten weeks. While tending the chickens, I discovered that they have an interesting way of dealing with their wounded ones. If a chicken got an injury, it would be its death sentence. The other birds would gang up on it, pecking at its injury. It soon would be dead. They are brutal animals.

David discovered that people can be that way too. Those he had considered his friends took advantage of his failure, gathered in glee, and pounced upon him.

We do not have to be that way. We can be agents of healing and comfort to those who stumble.

Lord, show us how to be friends to those who need friends the most.

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delighting in his rescue

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Psalm 35:9-10

Psalm 35:9 Then my throat will celebrate in Yahveh; I will delight in his rescue.

Psalm 35:10 All my bones will say, “Yahveh, who is like you, rescuing the poor from one too strong for him, the poor or the needy from one who robs him?”

delighting in his rescue

The final result that David is looking for is not vengeance on his enemies – it is worship. He wants to be able to turn the unfair way he was treated into cause for magnifying God for his rescue. He is able to stop dwelling on how badly he was treated and focus on something wonderful that can come from it.

So, instead of saying “Lord, make me strong enough to get revenge on my enemies” David says “Lord, you take care of them – I want to worship you.” He turns his adversities into a potential cause for celebration.

Lord, fight our enemies – take care of what we cannot. We want to delight in your rescue.

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trusting your enemies to God

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Psalm 35:4-8

Psalm 35:4 Let those who intend to take my soul be disgraced and humiliated; let those who plan to harm me be turned back and ashamed.

Psalm 35:5 Let them be like chaff in the wind, with the angel of Yahveh driving them away.

Psalm 35:6 Let their road be dark and slippery, with the angel of Yahveh chasing after them.

Psalm 35:7 They hid their net for me for no reason; they dug a pit for my soul for no reason.

Psalm 35:8 Let ruin come on him unexpectedly, and let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it– to his ruin.

trusting your enemies to God

David continues to ask God to fight his battles. He is asking God to treat his enemies the way they have treated him. This can be interpreted as seeking vengeance, but there is a difference. David is not asking God for permission to seek vengeance. He is turning over the whole of his fight to God himself. He is essentially saying that his enemies are now God’s problem. David has been unfairly treated, but he is asking God (who knows what is fair and right) to vindicate him.

Lord, deliver us from evil – even the evil we might want to do to those who have harmed us. We trust you to do what is right and fair.

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extra help

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Psalm 35:1-3

Psalm 35:11 Oppose my opponents, Yahveh; fight those who fight me.

Psalm 35:2 Take your shield and standing shield and come to my aid.

Psalm 35:3 Draw the spear and double axe against those who chase after me, and tell my soul: “I am your rescue.”

extra help

Recently my family started playing a board game with some peculiar characteristics. The players draw cards which identify the race, class, and powers they have. But some of the cards give the players extra strength capacities. Some cards add another person to the player’s team, and the player then gets all the special strengths of the added assistant.

David is talking about the extra strengths he has because God is fighting on his team. Instead of the protection of one shield, God provides two (2). Instead of the attack force of one weapon, God provides two (3). In addition, God provides motivational support by reminding David that he is his rescue (3).

Lord, thank you for strengthening us as you join us in the fight.

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1 superscription: Of David.

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fear class objectives

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Psalm 34:19-22

Psalm 34:19 One who is righteous has many adversities, but Yahveh rescues him from them all.
Psalm 34:20 He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Psalm 34:21 Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
Psalm 34:22 Yahveh redeems the soul of his servants, and all who take refuge in him will not be punished.

fear class objectives

When I taught at college, every syllabus I produced for my students included a course objectives list. It was a list of the outcomes that could be expected by my students after studying the subject.

This psalm has invited its readers to learn about fearing God. Notice some of the outcomes we can expect if we learn how to fear God:

• We will not be prevented from having adversities. We will have many, but God promises to rescue us from them all (19).
• We will survive intact at the end of our lessons. I believe this promise refers to our resurrected eternity (20).
• We will not be punished like the wicked. I believe this promise refers to the punishment of hell (22).
• We will not experience the ultimate punishment of the second death either (21).

Lord, thank you for your promises of ultimate, permanent deliverance.

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scholastic attitude

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Psalm 34:15-18

Psalm 34:15 The eyes of Yahveh are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help.

Psalm 34:16 The face of Yahveh is set against those who do what is evil, to remove all memory of them from the land.

Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry out, and Yahveh hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

Psalm 34:18 Yahveh is near the brokenhearted; he saves those who are breathing dust.

scholastic attitude

The previous section of this psalm invited us to learn how to fear God. This section tells us what kind of attitude and mindset we will need in order to benefit from our lessons.

Notice that people who are ready to learn how to fear God are humbled enough by their sins that they cry out for help (15,17). They are brokenhearted, and low – so low that they are breathing dust.

Lord, we need you. Please help us.

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