Psalm 35

Psalm 35

The psalmist relies upon God to help him against enemies.  The latter are described in graphic pictures.  They are dangerous warriors, cunning hunters, roaring beasts.  They lie, slander, devour, tyrannize.

The psalmist reacts:  “Make their way slippery and dark.”  “Let them fall into the pit they have dug.”  “Make them like chaff before the wind.”

What makes the psalmist’s pain worse is that he had done only good to those who now persecute him.  He did penance for them, prayed for them, treated them as if they were his brother or mother.

When we experience such ill will and ingratitude, we might feel much like the psalmist.  But then, at least in our better moments, we might recall Jesus and his Sermon on the Mount:  “Love your enemies; be good to those who hate you.”  Jesus himself gave the example:  “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”  With the grace of God, it is possible for us to pray for our enemies.

This does not mean we should not object to their treatment, but we can overcome a desire for revenge and pray for them.

Perhaps Psalm 35 can help us deal with our emotions in a bad situation.  As we say the words, our ill feelings can drain away and our faith can take over, especially as we face ourselves in the light of Jesus and all he has done for us.  We have at times acted as his enemies.  He died out of love for us.

Image:  Russ Allen/PhotoXpress


About the Author

Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M., after ordination in 1955, did further studies in Scripture. He taught Scripture to seminarians for 15 years. He has been editor of Sunday Homily Helps for more than 25 years.