My whole being shall say, “O Beloved, who is like You, You who give strength to the weak, praying on their behalf, when fear threatens to overwhelm them, holding them back from retaliation through your saving love?” Nan C. Merrill Psalm 35
Give us justice O God, and keep us from retaliation.
Though my enemies attack, I will not. O God, in you I trust.
Save me from my enemies and save me from myself.
Help me to see my part in the pain. God, keep me from looking away. (@blackLiturgies)
I am lost in this world of hate. Show me your love. Keep me from anger.
Let all who rejoice in the suffering of others be confused and lost.
Let all who suffer find hope and joy.
Let the rich fail in their own schemes. Let the poor inherit what is theirs.
God desires the welfare of all.
Give us justice O God, and keep us from retaliation.
The Lord’s Prayer:
If you are new to breath prayer, I’ve recorded some examples:
Here are some simple breath prayers to accompany this psalm:
Meditate on shalom
A simple prayer with one word on exhalation and one on inhalation: God fill me with your Holy Spirit. I receive your love and release my anger.
Or you can split a longer phrase between inhalation and exhalation or put a phrase on both. Here is an example: Shalom requires justice, I will not retaliate.
Do what is most comfortable to you. Breath prayer is a practice not something we do perfectly. Some days will be easier than others.
Ok, everyone, take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom. It is a practice I have continued since. Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary (RLC) that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C. Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others. While we were using Psalms in year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A. In Advent of 2020 we rejoined those who use the lectionary in year B. Advent of 2021 follows year C of lectionary pattern with Psalms in year C.
I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections.
Other Year C Psalm blog posts:
Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 25, 2nd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Luke 1:68-79, 3rd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Isaiah 12:2-6, 4th Sunday in Advent Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 35, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 19, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 71, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 138, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 1, 7th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 37, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 99
Lent: Ash Wednesday Psalm 51, 1st Sunday in Lent Psalm 91, 2nd Sunday in Lent Psalm 27, 3rdSunday in Lent Psalm 63, 4th Sunday in Lent Psalm 32, 5th Sunday in Lent Psalm 126, 6th Sunday in Lent (Palm or Passion Sunday) Psalm 118 or 31
Holy Week: Monday Psalm 36, Tuesday Psalm 71, Wednesday Psalm 70, Maundy Thursday Psalm 116, Good Friday Psalm 22, Holy Saturday Psalm 31
Easter: Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 114, 2nd Sunday of Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 150, 3rdSunday of Easter Psalm 30, 4th Sunday of Easter Psalm 23, 5th Sunday of Easter Psalm 148, 6thSunday of Easter Psalm 67, Ascension Psalm 47 or Psalm 93, 7th Sunday of Easter Psalm 97, Day of Pentecost Psalm 104
Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time): 1st Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 or Psalm 22, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 77 or Psalm 16, 4th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 30 or Psalm 66, 5th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 82 or Psalm 25, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 52 or Psalm 15, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 85 or Psalm 138, 8th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 107 or Psalm 49, 9thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 50 or Psalm 33, 10th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 80 or Psalm 82, 11th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 71 or Psalm 103, 12th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 81 or Psalm 112, 13th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 139 or Psalm 1, 14th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 14 or Psalm 51, 15th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 113, 16th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 146, 17th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 137 or Psalm 37, 18th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 66 or Psalm 111, 19th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 121, 20thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 65 or Psalm 84, 21st Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 32, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 145 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 98, 24th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 46.
Sources and notes:
“The enemies are the strong; the petitioner is the lowly one; it is up to the LORD to intervene to restore the right (mishpat) of the petitioner (v.23)”. Mays p. 155
“The adversaries have destroyed the shalom of the petitioner, that wholeness of self with others and God which belongs to the good and normal state of life.” Mays p. 155
“Shalom is the comprehensive term for the theological, social, and personal well-being given by creation and blessing and restored by salvation. It is the wholeness, goodness, and integrity of relational existence to God, self, and others.” Mays p.34
“…Psalm 35 has remained a resource for sufferers throughout the generations, serving both as a prayer for help and a testimony to God’s character.” NIB p. 401
“While Psalm 35 is testimony to God’s character and activity, it also teaches about suffering and the life of faith. It is easy to imagine Psalm 35 as the prayer of Elijah or Jeremiah or Job or Jesus (see John 15:25), all of whom were hated without cause, all of whom were pursued by their enemies, all of whom suffered on account of their righteousness and faithfulness to God. Clearly, suffering in these cases cannot be understood as punishment. If anything, suffering must be understood as the inevitable cost of discipleship. In this regard, then, Psalm 35 offers us a model of discipleship and invites our decision. Are we willing, like the psalmist and like Jesus, to humble ourselves in identification with the affliction of others (v.13)? Are we willing, like the psalmist and like Jesus, to entrust our lives to God, praying all the while, “Thy will be done… deliver us from evil?” NIB p. 403
“Psalm 35 may be perceived as a royal, or national lament, equivalent to Ps. 28, an individual psalm which has as its background the difficulties arising from sone kind of human covenant relationship. Here, in Ps. 35, the scene is a larger one, for though it is a king who has difficulties with a foreign partner, the two individual person represent two nation states. Thus the psalm provides some insight concerning the response of a nation’s leader to a crisis of awesome proportions with respect to Israel’s survival as a nation. The crisis of surviving a foreign military threat was difficult enough, but what aded to the frustration was the face that the threat rose in the form of an ally, one toward whom the psalmist had behaved properly in every legal respect. Innocent of any evil acts which might have justified the emergence of such a crisis, the king falls back on the ultimate defense of his nation, namely God, who as witness to the treaty perceived precisely where the fault lay with regard to the breaking of the treaty regulations. hence the psalmist’s declarations of innocence and his desire to be judged do not rest in any false piety or self-righteousness; they are based only on the conscious awareness that the treaty stipulations have been faithful observed. And his prayer that defeat and disaster fall upon his one-time ally is not simply human vindictiveness, but a desire that the treaty curses come into effect, thereby delivering the king from the unwarranted crisis and at the same time vindicating God as the Lord and King of Israel. ” p. 288 WBC
“The broader theological implications of the psalm are brought our clearly by the quotation of v 19 (cf. v 7) in the NT (John 15:25). Jesus warns his disciples that when they experience the world’s hatred, they should remember the word hated him first and that its hatred was without cause. But the purpose of the psalm is transformed in the life and ministry of Jesus. Whereas the Hebrew king prayed for deliverance from the hatred of enemies, Jesus eventually succumbed to that hatred in his death. And whereas the Hebrew king invoked the curses of a treaty to escape hatred, Jesus underwent human hatred to eliminate the curses suspended over human lives as a consequence of their sin. In other words, the death of Jesus as a consequence of human hatred became the act by which a new treaty, or new covenant, was to be forged between god and mankind. It was not a treaty between the nation states of this world, but rather a covenant making possible for all mankind citizenship in the kingdom of God.” pp. 288-289 WBC
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Chittister Chittister, Joan. (2011). Songs of the heart: reflections on the psalms. John Garratt Publishing.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
DAFLER, J. (2021). PSOBRIETY: A journey of recovery through the psalms. Louisville, KY: WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX.
W de Claisse-Walford, Nancy L. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 4-5. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 22. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2020.
W Hopkins, Denise Dombkowski. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 2-3. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 21. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2016.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Lewis, C. S. (2017). Reflections on the Psalms. Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
McCann McCann, J. C. (1993). A theological introduction to the book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.Nashville, TN: Abington Press.
Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.