What does Psalm 35:11 mean?
ESV: Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know.
NIV: Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about.
NASB: Malicious witnesses rise up; They ask me things that I do not know.
CSB: Malicious witnesses come forward; they question me about things I do not know.
NLT: Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
KJV: False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
NKJV: Fierce witnesses rise up; They ask me things that I do not know.
Verse Commentary:
No exact event in David's life is connected to this psalm. However, part of the persecution he faced was the use of malicious witnesses (Psalm 27:12; Exodus 20:16). Whether this involved an actual court case, or simply people attacking his reputation, we are not told. Both Saul (1 Samuel 19:1–2) and Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13–14) likely spread propaganda and falsehoods about David as they tried to win people over to their side. Wherever the lies were being spread, they were a farce. David was not sinlessly perfect, but he was certainly innocent of the charges brought against him. In fact, David isn't even aware of the issues they raise.

Again, what happened to David foreshadows what happened to Jesus. We read in Matthew 26 that after Jesus' arrest the entire council, the Sanhedrin, tried to coordinate false testimony against Jesus. Their goal was not truth, but to put Him to death. Despite many lying witnesses, they couldn't arrange a coherent accusation. Finally, two came forward and reported that Jesus had said, "I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days." When Jesus said the high priest would see the Son of Man seated at God's right hand and coming in the clouds, the high priest accused him of blasphemy. He and the council concluded that Jesus deserved death (Matthew 26:57–66).
Verse Context:
Psalm 35:11–18 is the second of three variations on the same themes, which make up Psalm 35. David describes the attacks he endured. His enemy lied and used unscrupulous witnesses to level false accusations. This betrayal is made worse because David had been kind and loving towards them when they were in need. When they were sick, he prayed for them, and mourned when they did not recover. Yet now they ridiculed him. David calls out for God's intervention.
Chapter Summary:
This is one of the "imprecatory psalms," which call on God to immediately judge or destroy His enemies. David echoes the same ideas in three phases. Each segment includes a plea for rescue, a request for God to conquer David's foes, and a promise to praise the Lord. David makes a point of noting that his enemies have no good reason for their hatred, since he was kind to them. With faith, David looks ahead, trusting he will have the opportunity to worship the Lord for His rescue and vindication.
Chapter Context:
David pleads with the Lord to destroy his enemies and vindicate him. As such, Psalm 35 is labeled an "imprecatory psalm." Other examples include psalms 5, 69, 109, and 140. This song might have been written when King Saul was seeking David's life (1 Samuel 19:1–2), or when Absalom was spreading rebellion in Israel (2 Samuel 15:13–14). David' notes three basic ideas in this psalm: vindication, defeat of enemies, and praise of God. Each is repeated in a series of three variations.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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