לְדָוִד רִיבָה יְהוָה אֶת־יְרִיבַי לְחַם אֶת־לֹחֲמָי׃ 35:1
Psal. 35:1 David's:
Strive, Lord, with my adversaries;
fight with those battling me!
Bible scholars seem to agree that this psalm, a plea for salvation, was composed during David’s flight from Saul. Psalm 7 is somewhat similar, also describing a time of distress and flight.
הַחֲזֵק מָגֵן וְצִנָּה וְקוּמָה בְּעֶזְרָתִי׃ 35:2
Psal. 35:2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise to my help!
וְהָרֵק חֲנִית וּסְגֹר לִקְרַאת רֹדְפָי אֱמֹר לְנַפְשִׁי יְשֻׁעָתֵךְ אָנִי׃ 35:3
Psal. 35:3 And pull out spear and join closely to encounter my pursuers;
say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
Three words in this verse are variously translated. The third word in the verse, which I translate as an imperative, join closely, is translated by others as the nouns battle-axe or javelin, or the imperatives stop, close off, or block. The fourth word, translated by me as to encounter, is translated also as against, the way against, or to meet. The fifth word, translated by me as my pursuers, is translated by others as those who are out to get me, those who persecute me, and those who pursue me. I believe the reason for all these diverse translations, especially of the third and fourth words, is that pesky third word, וּסְגֹר, which is found in four other places in the bible. Grammatically, the word is assumed to mean the adjective close or the verb to close or lock, but some have taken it as a noun. The four other occurrences of this word are generally translated as the verb to close.
יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִכָּלְמוּ מְבַקְשֵׁי נַפְשִׁי יִסֹּגוּ אָחוֹר וְיַחְפְּרוּ חֹשְׁבֵי רָעָתִי׃ 35:4
Psal. 35:4 Let the seekers of my soul be disappointed and confused;
let the planners of injury to me be turned backwards and abashed.
יִהְיוּ כְּמֹץ לִפְנֵי־רוּחַ וּמַלְאַךְ יְהוָה דּוֹחֶה׃ 35:5
Psal. 35:5 Let them be as chaff before a wind,
as an angel of the Lord would be chasing.
יְהִי־דַרְכָּם חֹשֶׁךְ וַחֲלַקְלַקּוֹת וּמַלְאַךְ יְהוָה רֹדְפָם׃ 35:6
Psal. 35:6 Let their way be dark with slippery places,
as an angel of the Lord is pursuing them.
כִּי־חִנָּם טָמְנוּ־לִי שַׁחַת רִשְׁתָּם חִנָּם חָפְרוּ לְנַפְשִׁי׃ 35:7
Psal. 35:7 For without cause they have hidden a pit for me, their trap;
without cause they have searched for my soul.
תְּבוֹאֵהוּ שׁוֹאָה לֹא־יֵדָע וְרִשְׁתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר־טָמַן תִּלְכְּדוֹ בְּשׁוֹאָה יִפָּל־בָּהּ׃ 35:8
Psal. 35:8 Let ruin come upon him unperceived,
and let his trap that he hid snare him;
let him fall devastated into it.
Remembering the tender mercy and respect David afforded to Saul, it’s difficult for me to imagine that David is referring to him here. I suspect he is simply exhibiting poetic license in interchanging the third-person plural and singular pronouns.
וְנַפְשִׁי תָּגִיל בַּיהוָה תָּשִׂישׂ בִּישׁוּעָתוֹ׃ 35:9
Psal. 35:9 And my soul will rejoice in the Lord;
it shall exult in His salvation.
כָּל עַצְמוֹתַי תֹּאמַרְנָה יְהוָה מִי כָמוֹךָ מַצִּיל עָנִי מֵחָזָק מִמֶּנּוּ וְעָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן מִגֹּזְלוֹ׃ 35:10
Psal. 35:10 All my bones shall say, “Lord, who is like You,
delivering the weak one from the strong for him,
and the afflicted and the needy from his plunderer?”
יְקוּמוּן עֵדֵי חָמָס אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדַעְתִּי יִשְׁאָלוּנִי׃ 35:11
Psal. 35:11 Witnesses of injustice of which I do not know may rise up;
they could inquire of me!
יְשַׁלְּמוּנִי רָעָה תַּחַת טוֹבָה שְׁכוֹל לְנַפְשִׁי׃ 35:12
Psal. 35:12 For good they would repay me evil,
bereavement is in my soul.
וַאֲנִי בַּחֲלוֹתָם לְבוּשִׁי שָׂק עִנֵּיתִי בַצּוֹם נַפְשִׁי וּתְפִלָּתִי עַל־חֵיקִי תָשׁוּב׃ 35:13
Psal. 35:13 Yet I? On their being sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
I afflicted my soul with fasting
-- but may my prayer return upon my own bosom.
כְּרֵעַ־כְּאָח לִי הִתְהַלָּכְתִּי כַּאֲבֶל־אֵם קֹדֵר שַׁחוֹתִי׃ 35:14
Psal. 35:14 I went about like a friend, like a brother of mine;
bowing down, I mourned as if mourning a mother.
וּבְצַלְעִי שָׂמְחוּ וְנֶאֱסָפוּ נֶאֶסְפוּ עָלַי נֵכִים וְלֹא יָדַעְתִּי קָרְעוּ וְלֹא־דָמּוּ׃ 35:15
Psal. 35:15 Then upon my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves;
they assembled themselves at me striking, and I was unaware;
they tore and did not wait.
בְּחַנְפֵי לַעֲגֵי מָעוֹג חָרֹק עָלַי שִׁנֵּימוֹ׃ 35:16
Psal. 35:16 With profanities of mockings of a grimace,
he gnashes his teeth at me.
אֲדֹנָי כַּמָּה תִּרְאֶה הָשִׁיבָה נַפְשִׁי מִשֹּׁאֵיהֶם מִכְּפִירִים יְחִידָתִי׃ 35:17
Psal. 35:17 Master, how long will you look?
Restore my soul from their ravages,
my only one, from the young lions.
אוֹדְךָ בְּקָהָל רָב בְּעַם עָצוּם אֲהַלְלֶךָּ׃ 35:18
Psal. 35:18 I will thank You in a great assembly,
praise You among a vast people.
אַל־יִשְׂמְחוּ־לִי אֹיְבַי שֶׁקֶר שֹׂנְאַי חִנָּם יִקְרְצוּ־עָיִן׃ 35:19
Psal. 35:19 Let my enemies of a false tongue not rejoice about me,
my haters without cause wink an eye.
כִּי לֹא שָׁלוֹם יְדַבֵּרוּ וְעַל רִגְעֵי־אֶרֶץ דִּבְרֵי מִרְמוֹת יַחֲשֹׁבוּן׃ 35:20
Psal. 35:20 Surely not of peace will they speak,
as against any quiet ones of the land the speakers of deceptions devise.
וַיַּרְחִיבוּ עָלַי פִּיהֶם אָמְרוּ הֶאָח הֶאָח רָאֲתָה עֵינֵינוּ׃ 35:21
Psal. 35:21 And they open their mouth wide against me;
they say, “Aha! Aha! My eye is seeing.”
רָאִיתָה יְהוָה אַל־תֶּחֱרַשׁ אֲדֹנָי אֲל־תִּרְחַק מִמֶּנִּי׃ 35:22
Psal. 35:22 You have seen, O Lord. do not be silent.
Master! Do not be far from me.
הָעִירָה וְהָקִיצָה לְמִשְׁפָּטִי אֱלֹהַי וַאדֹנָי לְרִיבִי׃ 35:23
Psal. 35:23 Awaken and arise to my judgment,
to my dispute, my God and Master.
שָׁפְטֵנִי כְצִדְקְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי וְאַל־יִשְׂמְחוּ־לִי׃ 35:24
Psal. 35:24 Judge me according to Your righteousness, Lord, my God,
and let them not rejoice about me.
אַל־יֹאמְרוּ בְלִבָּם הֶאָח נַפְשֵׁנוּ אַל־יֹאמְרוּ בִּלַּעֲנוּהוּ׃ 35:25
Psal. 35:25 Let them not say, “Aha, our desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”
יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ יַחְדָּו שְׂמֵחֵי רָעָתִי יִלְבְּשׁוּ־בֹשֶׁת וּכְלִמָּה הַמַּגְדִּילִים עָלָי׃ 35:26
Psal. 35:26 Let the rejoicers of my distress be disappointed and abashed together;
let those magnifying themselves against me wear shame and disgrace.
יָרֹנּוּ וְיִשְׂמְחוּ חֲפֵצֵי צִדְקִי וְיֹאמְרוּ תָמִיד יִגְדַּל יְהוָה הֶחָפֵץ שְׁלוֹם עַבְדּוֹ׃ 35:27
Psal. 35:27 Let the admirers of my righteousness shout aloud and rejoice,
and let those delighting in the peace of His servant
say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified.”
וּלְשׁוֹנִי תֶּהְגֶּה צִדְקֶךָ כָּל־הַיּוֹם תְּהִלָּתֶךָ׃ 35:28
Psal. 35:28 And my tongue will speak of Your righteousness,
of Your praise, all the time.