Evil for Good


Reading the Word

Psalm 35:11–18 (ESV)

11 Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. 12 They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft. 13 But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. 14 I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning. 15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing; 16 like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth. 17 How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! 18 I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, David describes his enemies as those who repay evil for good. They are “malicious witnesses” and rejoice at his suffering. In contrast, David prayed for them when they were sick (v.13). He wore sackcloth, which was a sign of mourning, and he fasted on their behalf. He states that he grieved for them as if they were his friends or his own brothers. In return they are set against him.

As David endures such wrongdoing, he calls out to God, “How long, O Lord, will you look on?” Here we find David’s heart laid out before God as he waits for God to act, but has not found relief. He has called out to God, but there has been no answer. How often have we felt the same in a difficult situation? How often have you thought to yourself “How long?”

Yet, notice how these verses end. Notice David’s confidence. Though he has not been delivered, he trusts that God will act on his behalf. He writes, “I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.” David has not lost faith in God. May we have the same persevering faith in God that we see in David. We know that he will act on our behalf and that he will save us. We too will stand in the great congregation and declare his praise.

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