All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We know that none of us are innocent. But what happens when you are simply doing the best that you can, minding your own business, and someone attacks you for no reason? That is David’s struggle in Psalm 35.
Please read Psalm 35:7-10.
David describes his attackers as men who have hid in wait. This was not a spur of the moment betrayal. It was premeditated. It takes time to hide nets and dig pits.
Unfortunately, it is easy for us to offend someone and not realize what we have done. We can go about the rest of our day having no idea that we were an offense.
Have you ever cut someone off in traffic? Sure, we’ve all been cut off in traffic, but have you ever cut somebody off? Chances are, if you did, you didn’t even know it! So you kept driving without a care in the world. But how did the person that you cut off react? They likely fumed and raged. Perhaps they showed up to work angry and it ruined the rest of their day.
In a similar way, we can offend someone without even knowing it. The offense passed us by without a second thought, but the person we offended will dwell on the offense. Whether a friend, a co-worker, or an enemy, they are left with a choice when we offend them: do they forgive us, or do they let the offense fester?
If they do not forgive us, then the offense will grow in their mind. Perhaps it was insignificant to us, but they are now motivated to start hiding their nets and digging their pits. They are planning their revenge, and one day they will unleash it upon us. When that day comes, it will feel as if we have fallen in a pit without any cause.
Did you notice how David repeats that phrase “without cause” in verse seven? As far as he was concerned, he had done nothing wrong. Yet, his enemy was motivated to plot and plan David’s downfall.
After falling in the pit, David is angry. How could someone go out of their way to plan such a devious attack? David wants justice. He wants destruction to come upon his enemy. He wants the poetic justice of his enemy falling into his own trap.
Only when his enemy is destroyed will David rejoice in the Lord. “Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord.” This is a far cry from Psalm 34, where David claims “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Now that David has been attacked, he will reserve his praise of God until he is delivered. Once God destroys his enemy, David will praise God will his entire being, "all my bones," but not until then.
Charles Spurgeon suggested “we do not triumph in the destruction of others but in the salvation given to us by God.” This is true of the Christian, who can find it in his heart to forgive his enemies because Christ has so forgiven him. But it goes against our carnal nature. In his flesh, David wanted his enemy to suffer. He wanted God to hurt his enemy in the same way that his enemy had hurt him.
David never stopped to ask, “why did this man expend all this effort in digging a pit for me? Did I do something to offend him?” Instead, David just promotes the cycle of violence. This is the kind of scenario that we see play out on the news nearly every day: a man unwittingly cuts off another man in traffic; the second man gets road rage and tailgates the first man; the first man gets angry at being tailgated, so he brake checks; the second man, after needing to slam on his brakes, then follows the first man until he stops; both men get out of their cars and fight it out until they both end up in the hospital, or worse.
As the old saying goes, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” The next time that someone attacks you, take a moment to ask, “Why?” They probably were not without cause. But, if even they had no reason for the attack, forgive them. And know that your reward is great in heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11-12).