Psalm 35 Study Guide

Intro:
Think back to Mohamed’s interview, what was an appropriate response to an enemy in the religious tradition of Mohamed’s youth?

How has the Gospel changed Mohamed’s response to enemies and those who have turned against him?

What sticks with you? What challenges you?

Question:

Think about your own story; have you ever had someone turn against you?

Perhaps your situation is not as harsh…but you have people who make your life hard, or people who have decided to dislike you, to distrust you, they say things about you that are unkind and untrue…what do you do? What do you do when you have enemies? What do you do when friends, people you loved turn against you? When they betray you? What did you do?

Read / Understand:

Note: walk through the Psalm with your group members. The comments and questions are there to highlight points made in the sermon and intended to help you make personal application.  You can use as little or as many as you want, remember you don’t have to use all of them, tailor it to fit your group.

Psalm 35 

1-3 is a call to action

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.  2 Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid.  3 Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Notice how David cry’s out to the Lord, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.'”

When we are attacked or turned against, it can be easy for us to become disoriented, and when this happens we must remember that we cannot trust the voices in our own heads…we need God to speak the objective truth of to our souls.

Question:

Do you ask the Lord to speak to your soul?  To encourage your soul?

Share a story of when you called out to the Lord. Did he speak through others, his Spirit, His word, or all three of these?

How does having the objective truth of his Word reorient you to God? What does it mean to you personally, to know that he speaks to you with truth?

4-8 Is a Call for judgment

4 May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.  5 May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away;  6 may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.  7 Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me,  8 may ruin overtake them by surprise — may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. 

Remember that these are called imprecatory prayers. Imprecate means “to invoke evil upon or curse” one’s enemies.

9-10 is a Confession of Praise

9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.  10 My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

David assumes the right posture in regards to how we should approach God and others…”I am poor and needy.”

Question:
What has it meant for you personally to “assume the right posture” before God?

What do you think David is getting at when he numbers himself among the poor and needy?

11-16 His Adversaries Treachery

11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about.  12 They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn.  13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered,  14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.  15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing.  16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me.

Question:
Think of a time when you’ve been betrayed. Was it by someone you thought was a friend?

What feelings and emotions did you experience?

17-18  How Long

17 O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.  18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you. 

Question:
Have you ever been in a place where you felt like you needed God to act and act now, but instead, it seems like he’s just standing still?

How did knowing that his timing, like his actions…is on purpose…not random help for you?

19-25 David again calls for the Lord’s vindication in light of his enemy’s deceit

19 Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.  20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.  21 They gape at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.”  22 O LORD, you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord.  23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord.  24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, O LORD my God; do not let them gloat over me.  25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.”  26 May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. 

This is an honest call from David’s heart for Justice.

27-28 David expresses confidence in the Lord’s final justice…his belief that God does and will care for the ultimate well being of his people.

Apply: 

Now that you’ve read through the psalm think back to your own enemies that you’ve had.
Think about how you felt, and then think about how David felt. Were there any similarities?

Share with the group how this psalm has resonated with you.
What could you have done differently?

In Terry’s application he gave us three important points to remember as we consider Imprecatory (enemy cursing) Psalms.

  1. David is being honest with God…this is his prayer to God that he wrote down for us to benefit from.

Read pages six and seven of the sermon notes.

Question:

Are we ever justified to hate, to curse, to call down God’s wrath on people we consider our enemies?”

David took this (his prayer) to God so that God could …

  1. He is not asking God for the opportunity to kill his enemies, he is asking God to exercise justice and to protect him from injustice.

He is not praying that God would make him the sword of justice…he is confessing his need for God to come to his aid. There is nothing here that justifies hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness…there is, however, a clear example of believing that justice belongs to God.

What does this thought on Justice mean to you?

How does it help you when you look around at all the injustice?

  1. David, when given the chance to destroy his enemies with his own hands…didn’t…this occurred multiple times in his life.

David prayed an imprecatory prayer…but he did not live an imprecatory life. This again indicates something very important for us…we take our anger, our sorrow our hurt, our dismay…our disorientation to God…so that we can be reoriented by God back to God.

Remember that ultimate justice is found in Christ, he has come to make all things right. And so we put our hope in Him, we trust in him.

Questions:

How do we take our anger, our sorrow our hurt, our dismay…our disorientation to God…so that we can be reoriented by God back to God?

What did Jesus tell us to do in Matt. 5:43 and Matt. 18:21? What does it teach us about our enemies and forgiveness? What does it mean for us?

What if you’ve been dismayed by the wrong that’s been done, is it okay to struggle? What does that struggle look like?

What if you don’t forgive your enemies?

What is the Good news about the Good news? How does that bring you comfort?

What is the Christian Life?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Patricia says:

    This is an excellent study guide on a very difficult psalm. It helped me tremendously in realizing I can talk to God about everything,
    so He can reorient ourselves back to Him. Thank you.

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