Transforming Trials into Triumph
Do not be far from me, O Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Psalm 35:22-23
False accusations. Ruthless witnesses. Gloating adversaries. How can such a scenario end in triumph, not tragedy? Yet that is the progression of David’s Psalm 35. In it, he described an unjust lawsuit, which also foreshadowed Jesus’ trials before the Sanhedrin and Pilate almost 1,000 years later.
David began with a plea for God to be both his defense lawyer and his avenging warrior (vv. 1-3). As unlikely as it appeared at the time, God was wielding His sword as He battled David’s enemies. And centuries later, He was battling Satan’s forces at Jesus’ trials even when it seemed His enemies had won.
David asked God to defend him against those “who seek my life and … plot my ruin” (Psalm 35:4). In Jesus’ case, the religious leaders were the murderous plotters. Matthew wrote, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward” (26:59-60). Truly, they “dug a pit” for Jesus “without cause” (Ps. 35:7).
David also wrote, “attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me” (Ps. 35:16). Luke recorded, “The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him” (22:63-65).
David could have concluded that God had abandoned him, but he chose to praise and trust God in spite of his circumstances (Ps. 35:28). During Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, it seemed like God the Father had abandoned His Son too. But Jesus knew that the Father’s temporary silence was working toward the glorious triumph over death, which would provide eternal salvation for all of us.
Seasons of adversity are challenging, but as surely as God brought David and Jesus through the trials into triumph, He will do the same for us. Therefore, like David, we can claim victory in advance and declare, “My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long” (Psalm 35:28).
How do you respond when others attack you “without cause”? Meditate on Isaiah 35:3-4, 53:10-12, and 54:16-17. Then ask God to help you respond with grace.
Compare David’s request in Psalm 35:4-6 with Revelation 21:6-7. What is the ultimate end of false witnesses and those who mock the godly? Are you willing to allow God to handle them?
Psalm 35:10 is a reference to Exodus 15:11. Why do you think David’s situation made him think of Moses and the victory at the Red Sea?
In chapters 13-16 of his gospel, John records Jesus’ actions and teachings during the Last Supper. Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 in John 15:25. How do His words to the disciples in John 15:18-27 and John 16:33 encourage you?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of a series: Psalms of the Messiah