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Psalm 35:9-10 meaning

David offers his first of three praises within Psalm 35. His praise is an expression of gratitude (and probably faith in) God for saving him. David's praise is prophetic of Jesus the Messiah's resurrection and salvation from death.

Psalm 35 is a prayer of David offered to the LORD, imploring Him to rescue Him from enemies who unjustly seek his destruction. This portion of Psalm 35 contains David's first of the psalm's three praises. 

Psalm 35 is outlined as follows:

  • First Litany (Psalm 35:1-8)
  • First Praise (Psalm 35:9-10)
  • Second Litany (Psalm 35:11-17
  • Second Praise (Psalm 35:18)   
  • Third Litany (Psalm 35:19-27)   
  • Third Praise (Psalm 35:28)   

Psalm 35:9-10 as David's Prayer

The first of Psalm 35's litanies (list of petitions to God) in Psalm 35:1-8 has concluded in the prior section. In that litany, David petitioned God to contend with those who were vying against him (Psalm 35:1), to save his life from their traps (Psalm 35:3), and for the LORD to let the harm which they intended for him to come to them (Psalm 35:4-8).

David now interjects his first petition with a praise to the LORD.

And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD (v 9a).

This is not an if/then proposition. It is a statement of the psalmist's intent. David is not making God an offer: "If You answer my petitions how I want You to answer them, LORD, then I will rejoice in You." He is not making his praise conditional on God's response. David is declaring that He will rejoice in the LORD no matter how the LORD answers his petitions.

There are three things we can control in this life, and many things we have no control over.  The three things we can control are:

  1. Who We Trust
  2. Our Perspective/Attitude 
  3. Our Actions

We do not control how God will respond. Throughout Psalm 35, David lets the LORD know what he wants, through his litanies, but he gives God freedom to respond how he will. David chooses to trust God regardless, and in verse 9 he declares what his actions will be, namely his soul shall rejoice in the LORD and it shall exalt in His salvation. In this, David reflects an unshakable trust that God is benevolent toward those who trust in Him, and therefore, however God decides to deal with his petition, it will be for David's best. In this, David shows us what it is like to have a heart after God's own heart—one that trusts that God will act in a manner that is in our best interest (regardless of how it might seem at the time) (1 Samuel 13:14). 

David, like the Apostle Paul, is choosing to rejoice in the LORD no matter what. When he was imprisoned for sharing the gospel, Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to:

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!"
(Philippians 2:4)

Similarly, James, exhorted his readers to "count it all joy…whenever you encounter various trials" (James 1:2) because the LORD uses these trials to perfect and complete us (James 1:4).

In addition to declaring that my soul shall trust in the LORD, David also expresses his faith in God when he says of his soul:

It shall exult in His salvation (v 9).

David believes that the LORD will save him from his enemies and vindicate him—even if he does not see how these things will happen. Part of David's confidence likely stems from the fact that God had anointed him to be king over Israel. 

David appears to be boasting of the LORD's salvation before he experiences it. This is a wonderful example of the second of the three things a person can control—who they trust. This kind of faith greatly pleases the LORD (Hebrews 11:6).

Of note in this short burst of praise, the Hebrew word that is translated as His salvation is a form of יְשׁוּעָה (H344). It is pronounced "yesh-oo'-aw" and transliterated as "Yeshua." Yeshua is effectively the same word as the Hebrew name for Joshua/Jesus. The name of Jesus in Hebrew means "the Lord saves" or "salvation of the Lord." 

Therefore, a translation of Psalm 35:9 could be rendered: 

And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD;
It shall exult Jesus.

Jesus is our salvation. Jesus unconditionally saves us from the penalty of sin through faith in His death on the cross (John 3:14-15). He also saves us from the power of sin to harm us when we choose a daily walk of faith (Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 6:8). And Jesus ultimately will restore the earth to its original design and save all creation from the negative effects of the Fall. Jesus will lead all who suffer as He suffered to be restored to their original appointment to reign in the earth in service and harmony (Hebrews 2:9-10, Romans 8:17b, Philippians 2:5-9, Revelation 3:21).

David's rejoicing and faith is exceedingly deep, penetrating all the way to the marrow of his bones

All my bones will say, "LORD, who is like You,
Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?" (v 10).

It is not just his immaterial soul that shall rejoice, even the psalmist's physical body celebrates the LORD. David's bones celebrate and praise the LORD. The psalmist personifies his bones by having them speak two rhetorical questions. 

His bones' rhetorical questions are:

  1. Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him?
  2. Who delivers the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?

The answers to both rhetorical questions are: the LORD.

It is the LORD who delivers the helplessly afflicted, oppressed, he whose enemy is too strong and powerful for him to overcome. 

It is the LORD who delivers the poor and the needy from he who robs or takes advantage of him

Interestingly, David the psalmist phrases these questions in the singular rather than the universal plural. That is, David says: him who is too strong for him, or from him who robs him (singular); instead of: those who are too strong for them, or from those who rob them (plural). 

One reason David may have used the singular instead of the plural, which is more universal, is to emphasize that the LORD delivers each of us individually, separately, and/or uniquely. The LORD's salvation (of all types) is personal. And we come to and meet God personally or not at all.   

In saying his bones ask these questions, David is indicating the depth to which he has embraced a view of God's benevolent intent toward him. He believes in God's goodness, regardless of circumstances, with every bit of his being. In this, David provides a shining example of the attitude that leads us to the greatest flourishing, for that is found when we navigate directly into God's design for us. 

How David's praise in Psalm 35:9-10 corresponds to Jesus, the Messiah

This section of scripture begins with the 7th Messianic prophecy of Psalm 35, located in verse 9 (the prior 6 are in previous sections). 

7.   The Messiah will trust and rejoice in the LORD for His salvation

And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD;
It shall exult in His salvation (v 9).

David's outburst of praise in Psalm 35:9-10 is reflected in the life of Jesus the Messiah as He trusted the LORD even as He was afflicted by His enemies.

David's assertion my soul shall rejoice in the LORD (no matter how God answers his prayers) is emblematic of Jesus's agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Jesus, knowing that He was about to be betrayed, rejected, abused, and crucified, petitioned the LORD: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39a). In praying this, the Messiah was asking for another way to fulfill His mission without having to suffer the cruelties that awaited Him. 

And like David who affirmed that he would rejoice in the LORD regardless of how God responded to his petitions, Jesus also affirmed to His Father that He would trust Him even unto death on a cross when He said: "Yet not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39). In saying this, Jesus indicates that He trusts God's plan more than His own wishes, again demonstrating an abiding faith in God's benevolent intent toward us (see commentary on Matthew 26:39). 

Jesus chose to rejoice in the LORD throughout the dreadful and unjust ordeal of crucifixion and to endure the cross. We are told His mindset was that the shame He endured paled in comparison to the joy set before Him to be rewarded by His Father to reign over the earth in harmony with Him (Hebrews 12:2). The Apostle Paul says something similar, calling the brutal persecution Jesus had endured a "momentary light affliction" as compared to the "eternal weight of glory" he eagerly awaited (2 Corinthians 4:17, 2 Timothy 4:8). 

8.   The Messiah will be resurrected

This entire praise is prophetic of Jesus's resurrection. 

And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD;
It shall exult in His salvation (v 9).

Soul can also be translated "life." The reason the Messiah's soul/life shall rejoice in the LORD is because the Messiah is restored back to life. Jesus was resurrected back to life by the LORD after His adversaries put Him to death (Matthew 28:1-6). 

The Messiah's soul/life shall exult in His salvation, that is, the Messiah's soul is glorified in the way the LORD saved/delivered it from death by bringing Jesus back to life and giving Him a resurrected body. 

The personified praise of the psalmist's bones (v 10) further alludes to the Messiah's physical resurrection from the dead.

Following Jesus's crucifixion and burial, when His physical body was resurrected back to life—all the Messiah's bones could rightfully say this praise:

All My bones will say, "LORD, who is like You,
Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?" (v 10). 

Following Jesus's crucifixion and burial, and upon His physical body being resurrected back to life—all the Messiah's bones could rightfully say this praise. For the LORD delivered Jesus the Messiah who was afflicted from death. The LORD delivered Jesus from him who was too strong for Him and who robbed Him of His life on the cross. 

After the LORD delivered Jesus from death, death was defeated, and everlasting life was made available to anyone who believes in Him, and His bones could boast how the LORD has robbed death (1 Corinthians 15:55). 

Because He lives, our souls can also exult in Jesus/His salvation. And because of Jesus—who is the resurrection and the life, the LORD continually robs death of all those who believe in His Son,

"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die."
(John 11:25)

Because He lives, our souls too can exult in Jesus, whose name literally means His salvation. The Hebrew word translated as His salvation in this passage is a form of "Yeshua"—the Hebrew name of Jesus. Spiritual life is given unconditionally to all who believe (John 3:14-15). The experience of eternal life is gained by those who walk in faith. Believers can tap into the resurrection power of Jesus which is made available to each believer who is willing to walk in faith, trusting that God's ways are for our best. 

To learn more about how to receive the Gift of Eternal Life, see The Bible Says article: "What is Eternal Life? How to Gain the Gift of Eternal Life."

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