PSALMS 35      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  meaning  -  Psalms  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


A Psalm of David.

  1. Contend, O jehovah, with them that contend with me; fight against them that fight against me.
  2. Take hold of shield and buckler, and arise for my help.
  3. Draw out also the spear, and stand between me and my persecutors; say to my soul, I am your salvation.
  4. Let them be ashamed and blush that seek my soul; let them be turned back, and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
  5. Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the Angel of jehovah drive them away.
  6. Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the Angel of jehovah pursue them.
  7. For without cause have they hid for me their net; without cause have they dug a pit for my soul.
  8. Let destruction come upon him unawares, and let his net which he has hid catch himself; let him fall into destruction.
  9. And my soul shall exult in jehovah, it shall be glad in his salvation.
  10. All my bones shall say, O jehovah, who is like you, delivering the afflicted from him that is too strong for him, yea, the afflicted and needy from him that spoils him?
  11. Fierce witnesses have risen up; they question me concerning things that I know not.
  12. They recompense me evil for good,—the spoiling of my soul.
  13. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer returned into my own bosom.
  14. I conducted myself as if it were for my companion and my brother; I bowed myself in mourning as bewailing a mother.
  15. And when I halted they were glad and gathered themselves together; the abjects, whom I knew not, gathered themselves together against me; they did rend me, nor were they silent.
  16. With profane mockers at feasts they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
  17. lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my soul from their destructions, my only one from the lions.
  18. I will celebrate you in the great congregation; I will praise you among many people.
  19. Let not my enemies unjustly rejoice over me; let them not wink with their eye that hate me without a cause;
  20. For they speak not peace, and devise words of deceit against those that are peaceable in the earth;
  21. They open their mouth wide against me; they say, Aha! aha! our eye has beheld.
  22. You have seen, O jehovah! be not silent, O lord, be not far from me.
  23. Arouse yourself, and awake to my judgement, O my god, and my lord, to plead my cause.
  24. Judge me according to your justice, O jehovah my god, and let them not rejoice over me.
  25. Let them not say in their hearts, Aha! that is our desire; let them not say, we have swallowed him up.
  26. Let them be ashamed and blush together that rejoice in my hurt; let them be clothed with shame and ignominy that exalt themselves against me.
  27. Let them sing and be glad that delight in my justice; let them say continually, let jehovah be magnified! who has pleasure in the peace of his servant.
  28. And my tongue shall proclaim your justice, and your praise, all the day long.

The Internal Sense

Of the lord's combats against the hells, and their subjugation and prostration, verses 1 to 9; that they seek to put him to death, because he wishes to do them good, whence he is grieved, verses 10 to 16; a prayer to be preserved from them that he may rejoice, verses 17, 18; that they blaspheme him, verses 19 to 21, 25; that through his Divine [principle] He will overcome them, verses 22, 23, 24, 26; wherefore the justice of the lord will be praised, verses 27, 28.


Verses 1, 2, 3. Contend O jehovah, with them that contend with me; fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and arise for my help; draw out also the spear, and stand between me and my persecutors; say to my soul, I am your salvation. That in this passage by fighting, taking hold of shield and buckler, and drawing out the spear, is not signified to lay hold of those warlike arms, is evident, for it is spoken of jehovah, but it is so expressed because all the weapons of war signify such things as have relation to spiritual war; by a shield inasmuch as it protects the head, is signified defence against falsities destroying the understanding of truth; by a buckler, inasmuch as it protects the breast is signified protection against the falsities destructive of charity, which is the will of good; and by a spear, since it protects all things of the body, is signified protection in general; inasmuch as such things are signified therefore it is added, "Say to my soul, I am your salvation."

Since jehovah, that is, the lord, protects man from the hells, that is, from the evils and falsities continually arising thence, therefore the lord is called Jehovah Zebaoth, that is, jehovah of Armies, and by armies are signified the truths and goods of heaven and of the church in the complex, by which the lord removes the hells in general, and with every individual in particular; hence it is that fighting and warfare are attributed to jehovah as a hero and a man of war in combat, as may be manifest from the following passages, "jehovah zebaoth descends to fight on Mount Zion and upon its hill," and in Zechariah, "jehovah shall go forth and fight against those nations as when he fought in the day of battle," Zech 14:3; and in Isaiah, "jehovah shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up zeal as a man of war, he shall prevail over his enemies," Is 42:13; and in Moses, "jehovah will wage war against Amalek from generation to generation," Exod 17:10; this was said, because by Amalek are signified those falsities of evil, which continually infest the truths and goods of the church. AE 734.

Verse 10. All my bones shall say, O jehovah, who is as you, delivering the poor from him that is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him that spoils him? Bones here denote scientific truths, see AC 8005; the needy in this passage denote those who are in little truth, and the poor denote those who are in little good, and are infested by evils and falses, from those infestations also the needy are called afflicted in the original tongue, for to be afflicted is to be infested by falses. AC 9209.

The reason why mention is here made of both poor and needy is because it is according to the style of the word, that where truth is spoken of, good is also spoken of, and in the opposite sense, where the false is spoken of, evil is also spoken of, because they make one, and are as a marriage, wherefore poor and needy are named together, for by poor are meant those who are deficient: in the knowledges of good, and by needy those who are deficient in the knowledges of truth. AE 238.

Verse 13. But as for me, when they ware sick, my clothing was sackcloth, etc. By being clothed in sackcloth, is signified lamentation on account of the devastation of truth in the church; for garments signify truths, wherefore to be clothed in sackcloth, which is not a garment, signifies lamentation, because there is no truth, and where there is no truth there is no church. The children of Israel represented lamentation by various things, which, owing to their correspondences were significative, as by putting ashes on their heads, by rolling themselves in the dust, by sitting a long time silent upon the ground, by shaving themselves, by mourning and howling, by tearing their garments, and also by putting on sackcloth, besides other particulars; and each of these signifies some evil of the church among them, for which they were punished; and when they were punished, by these methods they represented repentance, and by reason of this representation of repentance and at the same time of humiliation, they were heard. AR 492.

Verse 14. I bowed myself in mourning [in black], as bewailing a mother. Since mourning in the churches before the lord's coming, which were representative churches, represented spiritual grief of mind on account of the want of truth and good, mourning being used on occasions of oppression from an enemy, of the death of a father and mother, and other similar cases, and by oppression from an enemy was signified oppression from evils which are from hell, and by father and mother was signified the church as to good and as to truth, these things being represented by mourning amongst them, therefore on such occasion they were clothed in black, as in David, "I will say to god my rock, why have you forgotten, why go I in black because of the oppression of the enemy?" Psalm 42:9; again, "I bowed myself in black as one that mourns for a mother," Psalm 35:14; and in Jeremiah, "Judah mourns, and the gates thereof languish; they are black to the earth, and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up; for their nobles have sent their little ones for water; they came to the pit, they found no water; they returned with their vessels empty," Jer 14:2, 3 — That being black [or clothed in black] here signifies spiritual grief of mind on account of the want of truth in the church, is manifest from every particular expression in the internal sense; for by Judah is signified the church as to the affection of good, and by Jerusalem the church as to the affection of truth; by gates is signified admission to them; that there were no longer any truths, is described, by the nobles sending their little ones for water, by their coming to the pits, not finding waters, and their vessels returning empty; waters signify truths; pits those things which contain, which things are doctrinals from the Word, and the Word itself, in which they no longer see truths. From these passages it may be manifest that black in the Word signifies what is not true, in like manner as diskness, cloud, obscurity, and several other things from which comes blackness. AE 372.

Verse 16. They gnashed upon me with their teeth. He, who is not acquainted with the spiritual sense of the Word, may suppose that the expression of gnashing the teeth is here applied to denote anger and evil intention, because on such occasions the teeth are pressed together; but mention is made of gnashing of teeth in the Word, because the teeth signify falses in the extremes, and gnashing the vehemence of combating in favour of them; this attempt and act is also from correspondence. Such also was the quality of the deaf and dumb spirit whom the lord cast out; for all spirits are from the human race; he was of that class of men, who had vehemently combated in favour of falses against truths; hence it is that the person possessed by him foamed and gnashed with his teeth; he is called by the lord deaf and dumb, because he was not willing to perceive and understand the truth; for the deaf and dumb signify such persons; whereas he was determined and obstinate in his opposition to truths, and had confirmed himself in falses, that spirit could not be cast out by the disciples, for the falses, in favour of which he had combated, could not as yet be dispersed by them, for they were not as yet qualified to disperse them, on which account they were moreover blamed by the lord: that the spirit was of such a quality, and that the person possessed by him was not of such a quality, is signified by the spirit tearing him, and by the person possessed pining away, and by the lord saying to the spirit, that he should no more enter into him. Hence it may be manifest what is signified by gnashing of teeth, Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28. Inasmuch as teeth correspond to the ultimates of the life of the intellectual man, which are called sensual, and as these are in the falses of evil when they are separated from the truths of the interior understanding, which are called spiritual, yet, the same correspond to the truths of good in sensual things when they are not separated, hence it is that teeth in the Word also signify ultimate Truths. AE 556.

Verses 20, 21. For they speak not peace, and devise works of deceit, etc. By month is signified speech, preaching, and doctrine, AR 453, and by guile, is signified persuasion to evil by means of falsehood, properly speaking from cunning and design; for he who persuades another to something from cunning or guile, the same also persuades from design, for cunning or guile proposes something to itself, conceals its purpose or design, and when there is an opportunity puts it into execution. AR 624.

Verse 28. My tongue shall meditate on your justice, your praise, all the day. By tongue is here signified confession from the doctrine of the church, for it is said that it meditates; justice is predicated of its good, and praise of its truth. In the Word frequent mention is made of the lip, the mouth, and the tongue, and by the lip is signified doctrine, by the mouth thought, and by the tongue confession. The reason why the lip, the mouth, and the tongue have such significations is because they are the externals of men, by which publication is made of things internal, and internal things are what are signified in the internal or spiritual sense; for the Word in the letter consists of external things which appear before the eyes and are perceived by the senses, hence the word in the letter is natural, and this for the reason that the Divine Truth which it contains may be there in the ultimate, and then in its fullness: but those external things, which are natural comprehend in them internal things which are spiritual, which therefore are the things signified. AE 455.

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verse 1. Contend, O jehovah, with them that contend with me, and fight against them that fight against me. To a person unacquainted with the internal sense of the word it will appear, that to contend and to fight in this passage, is a mere tautology, and has no other meaning. But to a person, whose intellectual eyes are open to see, that the almighty never deals in such tautology, it will be manifest, that the two terms, contending and fighting, have relation to the heavenly marriage of the good and the true, which pervades the Book of Revelation, and that thus to contend, when predicated of the almighty, has reference to the divine good of his love, and when predicated of the wicked, has reference to the infernal evil of an opposite love. In like manner to fight is not a repetition of the same thing, but, when applied to the almighty, has respect to the divine truth of his most holy wisdom, and when applied to the wicked, has respect to the principles of what is false in their opposition to that wisdom. The two terms then mark that Divine union of love and wisdom which prevails in heaven, and that infernal conjunction of what is evil and false which rules in hell. A similar observation may be extended to the two expressions ashamed and blush, and also to being turned back and brought to confusion, which occur at the subsequent verse 4.

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