14 “I behaved as if grieving for my friend or my brother; I bowed down in sorrow, as one who bewails his mother.
15 But in my stumbling and limping they rejoiced and gathered together [against me]; the smiters (slanderers and revilers) gathered against me, and I knew them not; they ceased not to slander and revile me.
16 Like profane mockers at feasts [making sport for the price of a cake] they gnashed at me with their teeth.”
Psalm 35:14-16, Amplified
For today’s reading, I march out the Amplified Version (AMP.) It has a pretty dynamic history, and fills a niche of a translation that reveals shades and nuances of the original languages. (It can seem a “bit wordy” though for everyday reading.) It was built off the work of the ASV (1901) and its first edition came out in 1965. Since then, it has had over 30 printings.
The AMP handles these three verses quite adroitly and delivers much to strengthen our understanding.
David is a deeply troubled man. It seems he treats his enemies like dear friends. And his friends are sometimes overlooked. His love ‘kicks-off’ his vulnerabilities. I will use the term “idealistic” (but not ‘spacy’ or crazy.) You could say that he loves too much, and he refuses to call his old friends as the enemies they have become.
A love like this is truly astounding. It is called “agape” love in the New Testament. It is a special word that means that it loves its enemies in spite of being mistreated, ignored or slandered. It is a “Jesus style” of love, that His followers must share.
V. 14, “I behaved as if grieving for my friend or my brother; I bowed down in sorrow, as one who bewails his mother.”
I suppose it would be useful to read my previous post from PL, The Dark Pain of Slander: Psalm 35:11-13
David describes his painful grief over his enemies illness. This isn’t what people normally do. But David isn’t normal– he is supernatural as he grieves deep down. David taps into a vein of understanding that Jesus would declare centuries later. From Matthew 5,
“God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.” (v.4)
“God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.” (v.5)
“God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.” (v.7)
V. 15, “But in my stumbling and limping they rejoiced and gathered together [against me]; the smiters (slanderers and revilers) gathered against me, and I knew them not; they ceased not to slander and revile me.
David has now become a magnet for haters. They watch him stumble, and see him limp. They are drawn together to mock and slander. They have joy over seeing King David the Buffoon stumbling about.
Evil has its special way of organizing itself for evil purposes. Just as the Godly have special gifts and ministries, the evil ones have their specialties as well. Some will be liars, others will be murderers, adulterers, abusers and thieves. You could say that Satan has “gifted” them to do his work.
“These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. 9 But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.”
2 Timothy 3:8-9
Just as Paul had been gifted, he encountered others as gifted, but to do evil. This should make a young pastor or missionary aware and careful of these evil counterparts. But Paul tells Timothy that this charade will not last long.
“Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.
3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry,
“and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
Psalm 2:1-3, NLT
This particular Psalm is frequently overlooked. It doesn’t have the charisma of its other brothers— like Psalms 23, or Psalms 51. But even a cursory look should change our minds about this. Let us put weight on what our Father puts weight on. This is wisdom.
This one of King David’s creations. It has several facets that we should note:
- It is a “messianic psalm.” It points directly to Jesus with two direct references, “You are my Son” and a case for the resurrection.
- It is a “prophetic psalm.” Many look back into the history of Israel. But this looks forward into the future of the world. It reveals in a poetic form what we can expect to see.
- It is a “beautiful psalm.” It is elegant and exceptional in its composition. When I read it I think of Michelangelo’s statue of David, in Florence, Italy. For me it has the same beauty.
V.1, “Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
There is a madness ingrained in the heart and minds of men. An anger that is always there, often just under the surface. Every so often it gets loose and nasty, ugly things happen. We have an aversion of God’s rule in our lives. I think of the story of the tower of Babel when I read this. Genesis 11 carries this story of an intelligent effort to escape God’s rule. But it is doomed to failure as the Lord’s sovereignty is never, ever questioned.
David has an ‘epiphany’ and asks why. “Why” is a good question to ask, as it deals with questions that most ignore. I love it when a young person starts asking “why?” This is a necessary step in the right direction. We need a church that will ask “why?” more often than it does.
V. 2, “The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.”
And again we see a “preparation and a plot.” There is an organizing of sorts going on around us. We also see rebels consulting with each other about how they can actively resist God on a systematic level. This is something quite native and innate residing within.
This is a significant rebellion ‘ratcheted up’ to a satanic level. Most of humanity is busy doing Satan’s will. Jesus once spoke this—
“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 8:44, (also Eph. 2:2)
V. 3, “Let us break their chains,” they cry,
and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
The earnest cry of so many is too be free. Many revolutions, coups, terrorism, and assassinations have occurred in order to wrench out an imagined liberty. But our history repeatedly shows that we only replace one system with another that is just as corrupt.
We like breaking things. Government, art, literature, etc: can be summed up concisely as “breaking” things— we like the cutting edge, the ‘freshness’ of new ideas, music, art and entertainment. But all it is, is a rebellion that only perpetuates confusion and dashed hopes.
God’s kingdom is the only one that will last for an eternity.
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalms 32:6–11, ESV
The second part of Psalms 32 carries a significant weight for the Christian. What we read also defines us as believers. In the first part of our examination we discovered the joy that comes when we repent and confess, and are forgiven.(You can read the first part at
This half of the Psalm continues the deep theme of forgiveness. David has much to say and teach us. We are given a gift of incredible worth, as these verses are impregnated with truth and insights. What this gives you can’t be minimized, as you read with understanding, you are given something profound. This is really and truly not anything you have seen before.
V. 6, this is “high ground.” Here in Alaska we have signs posted that guide us to safety in the event of a tsunami. David understands that prayer is essential at this point. When things seem to be getting wet, you can be “high and dry.”
V. 7, this is a loud proclamation of a confident faith. David, just a few verses ago is a real skunk, just declares that God pays him protection. Notice the “you” is repeated. This kind of safety can only be found in a person, “preserved” and “surrounded.”
V. 8–9, this describes the life of individual guidance. This is critical in this day of misplaced signposts and flawed compasses. The words “instruct” and “counsel” are used purposely. But, we definitely need this level of direction. He has a special eye for you. I think that is pretty cool.
Dumb horses or mules usually require bits and bridles, as they are not fully domesticated. They still have a “wild streak” deep down. I suppose it is a trifle demeaning to be labeled this way. But that is clearly God’s words to describe our condition in a way that we can grasp. The idea of proximity and closeness is floated out there. Intimacy or nearness to God are special graces given to obedient people.
V. 10, a verse of contrast, the wicked and the godly. We see pain, and we see the person enveloped in a “steadfast love.” Being surrounded is usually a bad thing, but for the believer it is the best thing to happen to us.
V. 11, we are returning to the ”joy idea” first encountered in the first verses. But it’s far more than an idea, it is real. Joy is the exclusive bonus of the Christian. It is part of what the Father gives us. If you don’t believe me, just start singing to the Lord.
32 But in spite of this, the people kept sinning.
Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him.
33 So he ended their lives in failure,
their years in terror.
34 When God began killing them,
they finally sought him.
They repented and took God seriously.
35 Then they remembered that God was their rock,
that God Most High[a] was their redeemer.
36 But all they gave him was lip service;
they lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their hearts were not loyal to him.
They did not keep his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins
and did not destroy them all.
Many times he held back his anger
and did not unleash his fury!
39 For he remembered that they were merely mortal,
gone like a breath of wind that never returns.
Psalms 78:32-39, NLT
When I read this portion of scripture, I try to imagine the emotions of God. This Psalm is one of the “failure kind.” It has a definite weave running through it, and the true theme is sin, with all its allurement and enticement. The secondary theme would have to be God’s work in trying to separate His people from their sin. Will He succeed?
V. 32, the earlier verses describe God’s supernatural provision. We discover that the people won’t trust God, no matter what happens. They are locked into sin and unbelief. We call this “rebellion” and I see this as the powerful sin of our generation.
V. 33 reveals the results of this. Failure and defeat. These are anathema to human beings. A subjugated people are frustrated and very weak and desperately afraid.
V. 34 the children of Israel become a target for God’s sharp arrows. God culls them out and takes away His gift of life from them. Was Israel being mistreated? Actually it does seem the other way around. Israel was mistreating God! But a key moment came when so many people died, they finally got very serious. But it took God’s heavy hand to bring this about.
V. 35 “Then they remembered that God was their rock, that God Most High was their redeemer.” To remember is a gift. For too often we just buzz through life without thinking about it. Remember our rock and redeemer. Remember who you belong to.
V. 36, This was a well orchestrated deceit. To pay lip service only. This was not just the behavior of Old Testament Israelites. We do the same, far too frequently. The verse said that they lied to Him!
V. 37, “Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant.” Rarely it seems, do we mix our faith with loyalty. We admire loyal people, but from a distance. God puts a premium on it, however.
V. 38, describes the deep patience of God over our lives. His basic heart is to always forgive. I truly believe that it is very hard to provoke Him to anger. He isn’t like us at all. We can be angry people, but we are most like our Father when we choose to overlook sin.
V. 39 we see that God understands us fully. He sees the big picture. Our lives are very short, fleeting. He grasps our temporary status on this earth, and because our lives are so precarious, He takes that into account.