URC Daily Devotion 18th February

Psalm 35

1 LORD, plead my case when I am charged
by foes maliciously;
And fight for me, when they attack
and vent their spite on me.

2 Take up your shield! Come to my aid!
3 Speak to my soul and say,
“I’m your salvation.” With your spear
cut off my en’mies’ way.

4 May those who seek to take my life
endure disgrace and shame;
May those who plot my overthrow
turn back the way they came.

5 May they like chaff before the wind
be blown in disarray,
And by the angel of the LORD
be driven far away.

6 LORD, make their pathway insecure,
in darkness hard to find;
And let the angel of the LORD
attack them from behind.

7 Since they have spread a net for me
without a cause at all,
And for no reason dug a pit
that in it I might fall,

8 Let ruin seize them, and let them
in their own net be caught;
May they instead fall in their pit
and so to death be brought.

9 Then will my soul rejoice in God
and in his saving name.
10 “Who is a God like you, O LORD?”
my heart and soul exclaim.

“The poor you rescue from the hands
of those who are too strong;
You save the poor and weak from those
who rob and do them wrong.”

11 Malicious witnesses rise up
and falsely slander me;
I have no knowledge of the things
they ask accusingly.

12 They pay back evil for my good
and leave my soul forlorn.
13 Yet, at their illness, I would fast
and, clad in sackcloth, mourn.

And when my prayers were not heard,
14 I mourned as one bereaved
Of mother, brother, closest friend;
I bowed my head and grieved.

15 But when I slipped, they gathered round
and gloated with delight;
They came upon me unawares
to vent on me their spite.

Unceasingly they slandered me;
16 they mocked maliciously,
Like those who have no fear of God,
and gnashed their teeth at me.

17 O Lord, how long will you look on?
Defend me from their strife;
From these marauding lions’ teeth
protect my precious life.

18 Then where the great assembly meets
to you I will give praise;
Among the crowds of worshippers
in thanks my voice I’ll raise.

19 Let him not gloat who, without cause,
is my fierce enemy,
Nor those who hate me unprovoked
stare spitefully at me.

20 They do not speak in peaceful words,
but cunning schemes have planned,
Accusing those who live at peace
and quiet in the land.

21 Triumphantly they shout and say,
“His wickedness we see!”
22 LORD, you have seen; hold not your peace.
Lord, be not far from me.

23 Awake, and rise to my defence!
Contend for me, my God.
24 Do not let them gloat over me;
in justice judge, O LORD.

25 Let them not think within their hearts,
“At last! just what we want!”
Nor let them say, “We’ve swallowed him”—
let that not be their taunt.

26 May all who gloat at my distress
know shame and loss of face;
May all who triumph over me
be covered with disgrace.

27 May those who long to see me cleared
shout out with joy and sing:
“The LORD be praised, who loves to see
his servant prospering.”

28 I will extol your righteousness;
I’ll praise you with my tongue.
I will proclaim your greatness, LORD,
and praise you all day long.



Psalm 35 is a psalm of imprecation.

It originates from someone who feels deeply wronged. As a consequence, the Psalmists’ response is to enlist God’s help in destroying those who set out to destroy him. It is a sentiment that most of us are familiar with. To hurt others as we ourselves have been hurt.

This spirit of retaliation is one from which most Christians flinch, believing it not to be worthy of the One who died in agony with words of forgiveness on his lips for those whose actions had led him to a cruel execution by the Roman occupying power.

Five hundred years ago, the Archbishop of Glasgow issued a terrible curse against the Reiver families who burnt and stole from families living on either side of the English Scottish border. Some 300 words of the curse are carved into a granite stone which has been placed in the Millennium Gallery. The curse has provoked controversy in the city.

Yet the hounding of the innocent by the powerful inflames us still. Verses 11- 14 indicate that the Psalmist has shown goodness to those who now work for his downfall. In verses 15  16 we get a foretaste of the treatment Jesus experienced, whilst remaining like a sheep before its shearers. From this heartfelt cry, we are reminded that God is not impartial, impassive to the suffering of people. The praises the Church offers flow from God’s nature and purpose which to embody justice for the oppressed and the vulnerable, even if God’s ways of transforming brutality and injustice are not like ours.



Thank you, God,
That you hear the cries of suffering people.
Lead us from curses to blessing.
Minister to the anger in our own hearts,
So that we may be instruments
of your peace,
In a world which scarcely recognises it,

Today’s Writer

The Rev’d  Richard Church, is a URC minister, worshipping with Streatham URC, and serves as Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship).

Bible Version


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