Psalm 35:13
(13)And my prayer returned into mine own bosom.--This has been most variously explained. The context evidently implies something done for the benefit of the whilome friends for whom, in their sickness, the poet had worn sackcloth, and had fasted and adopted all the other signs of mourning. We must therefore set aside (1) the idea of fruitless prayer, in spite of the analogy of Matthew 10:13, Luke 10:6. (2) The notion that the answer to the prayer came back to the psalmist himself, instead of to those for whom it was offered, must also be set aside. And (3) we must reject the notion of secret, i.e., silent prayer, in spite of Proverbs 17:23; Proverbs 21:14, since all the "outward and visible" signs of mourning are indicated, and the very object was to show sympathy and interest.

There remains (1) the literal, and my prayer turned upon my bosom, referring to the posture described in Psalm 35:14. (Comp. 1Kings 18:42, where, however, there is no express mention of prayer.) The words were, as it were, muttered into his bosom. This is the view of Ewald and Delitzsch, but seems prosaic. (2)The far more probable meaning, my prayer came back again and again to my bosom, i.e., was repeated over and over again; just as we say, "the thought recurred to my mind." (Comp. the common phrase for thoughts coming upon the heart, Jeremiah 3:16; Jeremiah 7:31, etc.) The Hebrew verb has this frequentative sense in one of its conjugations.

Verse 13. - But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth. It is suggested that David had acted thus, especially in the case of Saul, when he was first afflicted with his terrible malady (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 1 Samuel 18:10); but he appears to speak of his habitual practice, whenever any of his friends were sick. (On the putting on of sackcloth as a sign of grief, see Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31; 2 Samuel 21:10; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 6:30; 2 Kings 19:1; Esther 4:1; Job 16:15; Psalm 69:11; Psalm 69:11, etc.) I humbled my soul with fasting. Another customary indication of grief (see Psalm 69:10; Psalm 109:24; Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 1:12; 2 Samuel 22:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Nehemiah 1:4, etc.). And my prayer returned into mine own bosom (comp. Matthew 10:13). Prayers for others, if prevented by their unworthiness from benefiting them, are yet not altogether void and vain. They bring a blessing to the man that offers them.

35:11-16 Call a man ungrateful, and you can call him no worse: this was the character of David's enemies. Herein he was a type of Christ. David shows how tenderly he had behaved towards them in afflictions. We ought to mourn for the sins of those who do not mourn for themselves. We shall not lose by the good offices we do to any, how ungrateful soever they may be. Let us learn to possess our souls in patience and meekness like David, or rather after Christ's example.But as for me, when they were sick,.... Or under any disorder or distress of body or mind, when any misfortune or infirmity attended them; meaning Saul and his courtiers, before David was persecuted by them;

my clothing was sackcloth; that is, he was grieved, and mourned for them, it being usual to put on sackcloth in time of mourning; see Genesis 37:34;

I humbled my soul with fasting; on the account of them, giving up himself to prayer for them, as follows:

and my prayer returned into mine own bosom; that is, he prayed privately and heartily for them, as for himself; he was constant in it, his heart was in it, and he took delight in it, and he was heard and answered; unless the sense should be, that his prayer was slighted by them, and so returned back to himself, as a present despised is returned; but however it was not without its effect, the good for which he prayed for them was returned by the Lord unto him.

Psalm 35:12
Top of Page
Top of Page