Today, Sunday February 05
Praying For Your Enemies
“Fierce witnesses rise up; They ask me things that I do not know. They reward me evil for good, To the sorrow of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.
But in my adversity they rejoiced And gathered together; Attackers gathered against me, And I did not know it; They tore at me and did not cease; With ungodly mockers at feasts They gnashed at me with their teeth.
Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.”
Jesus taught us in His “Sermon on the Mount” to pray for our enemies. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45). Well, Psalm 35 is a good example of this as David prayed for his enemies the same way he would have prayed for his mother.
David had become a national hero when he killed Goliath. King Saul ask him to lead the armies of Israel out in battle against the Philistines which he did very successfully. His fame spread even to greater heights, and it wasn’t long before the ladies of Israel were greeting him and his returning army with songs saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David has slain his ten-thousands” (1 Samuel 18:5-8). King Saul becomes insanely jealous and turns against him and David goes from being a hero to a zero.
The very men that had become his best friends and companions in battle also turned against him and begin to spread vicious lies about him to King Saul and anyone else who would listen. David has to flee for his life and turns to the LORD for help as he learns to deal with this terrible hurt! As you read his many Psalms and prayers that he wrote during this period it is so obvious that he is human and has feelings and emotions just like we have.
You had to notice that in this Psalm, David first prayed an imprecatory prayer asking the LORD to fight against his enemies. But now David begins to reason with the Lord as he asked for help declaring and stating the evidence that he is innocent of what they are accusing him of (v. 11). The enemy depended on lies and false "malicious" witnesses who accused him of being a traitor. (See Psalm 27:12; Deut. 19:15-21; 1 Sam. 24:10.)
Quite the contrary, it was Saul and his officers who were the traitors, for they returned evil for the good David did to them. On two occasions, David could have killed Saul, but instead, David returned good for evil (1 Sam. 24, 26; and see Psalm 38:20; 109:5; Jer. 18:18-23). Later Saul even admitted that David was the better man (1 Sam. 24:17). It pained David deeply that the men he had served with in Saul's army had betrayed him (see Psalm 41:9; 55:12-14). The very people who he thought had his back were stabbing him in the back!
David had prayed for them when they were in need, but his prayers returned to him unanswered (v. 13), “But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart.” David received a blessing because he prayed, but God couldn't send a blessing to such evil people. The only "return" David got from his prayers was evil for good, so he asked the Lord to send him good to compensate for their evil.
Those who criticize David for his imprecatory prayer in verses 4-8, should remember that first he prayed for their help and healing. Saul's men "tore David apart" with their wicked words (v. 15). Like court jesters, at their meals they made him the butt of their vicious jokes (v. 16, and see Ps. 69:12). On the question "How long?" David knew that God would eventually reward him for his faithfulness, but he didn't know when.
David’s first praise to God in verses 9-10 was personal, but his second expression of praise in verse 18 is in the congregation with the saints. When we remember that “Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the LORD” and then we “return evil for good” (Romans 12:19-21), we will also be able to say with David, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” Amen!