So do you get the sense that at the beginning of the psalm the author is asking God to do some really not nice things to his enemies? Go ahead and look at vs 1-8 and you hear how the author beseeches God to rise up and defend him and to do some not nice things to those who would do not nice things to him. Okay, so this is probably where I need to quote my Savior Jesus who said in Matthew 5:38-48 to turn the other cheek. You have a whole listing of opportunities that we need to take to love our enemy. It is quite different from today’s psalm. The author also includes a type of quid pro quo where he says in vs.9 (if you do these awful things to my enemies) “then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord.” The assumption is that if God, you do not do these things, then maybe I’ll just keep my rejoicing to myself.
It is a very human prayer and a very human emotion, but one that we must avoid. We have to be more like Matthew 5 people than Psalm 35 people. As the psalm continues you see that the author points out the times that he was a neighbor to them. He prayed for their healing, and they repaid him by ridiculing him and causing him pain and suffering. As he continues on in this psalm y0u can almost hear him pointing out that his enemies are not doing the things that we were encouraged to do yesterday in Psalm 34. His enemies do not keep their tongue from evil (vs.16), nor seek peace and pursue it (vs.20), they speak deceit (vs.20).
The author tells the Lord to wake up just like in I Kings 18 where Elijah battles the prophets of Baal and as Baal is proven to be impotent the prophet states in vs.27 “pray louder for if he is really a god maybe he is sleeping.” It seems as if in vs.23 the author has gotten to the end of his rope and calls out to the Lord to wake up. Even if elsewhere later on in psalm 121 we read that the Lord does not slumber or sleep. But sometimes in our frustrations we say things we don’t mean to say.
The psalmist ends with a call for all those who are on his side to rejoice with him, but only when the Lord will respond. The assumption is that the Lord will respond even if he has not yet. All the way to vs.28 we read then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness. Not until then. I pray that we will be able to tell of the Lord’s righteousness even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and even when our “enemies” have mocked us beyond our ability to take. I pray that we don’t have to wait to taste that the Lord is God before we tell of His goodness.