Did you know that the Psalms are the most quoted book in the New Testament? In fact, there are 68 direct quotes taken from the Psalms and used in the NT.
Psalm 35 is no exception, and in this psalm the quotation, used by Jesus, comes from verse 19 where David speaks of those who hate me without reason.
In John 15 Jesus is teaching his disciples and preparing them for the things that they will face as his followers. He begins with the wonderful illustration, saying, I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (verses 1-17)
He later moves into the teaching about the Holy Spirit saying, When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (verses 26-27)
But in between these two great truths, Jesus reminds the disciples that they will also face opposition, even hatred from the world around them. He says:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. … Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason’. (verses 18-25)
And so we come to Wilcock’s sixth and last suggestion as to why this Psalm should not be omitted from personal and communal worship and teaching and why “the cursings are integral to scripture.” He says, “we should notice the way the New Testament quotes this psalm…The evil against which David prays has attacked him without cause. It is envious and sadistic, hurting and spoiling and destroying merely for the sake of it. Christ’s ultimate object, and ours, is that the destroyers be destroyed. But in the meantime, he accepts ‘what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason,’” and warns his followers to expect the same treatment – and, adds Peter, not to retaliate.”
Wilcock concludes, “How do you follow the Lord in combining non-retaliation with implacable opposition to evil? The challenge is not an easy one. But paradoxical though it may sound, ‘to this you were called’.” (see 1 Peter 2:18-23)
Hopefully these six suggestions have been helpful in enabling us “to read Psalm 35 as the author would have wanted it read.” (Wilcock)
And in the words of David in the last verse (28), no matter what the circumstances of our lives, may we be able to say to the Lord:
My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long. Amen.