The fact “God has not promised us smooth sailing, just safe passage” is clearly demonstrated in Psalm 35. David is engulfed in stormy waters. His initial response is to pray for Jehovah’s deliverance (vv. 1-8) and to anticipate his joyous response to God’s forthcoming answer to his prayer (vv. 9-10).
As David anticipates another wave of this ferocious storm (vv. 11-16), he again petitions his Deliverer and anticipates his grateful response (vv. 17-18). It is written: “Fierce witnesses rise up; they ask me things that I do not know. They reward me evil for good to the sorrow of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart. I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother. But in my adversity they rejoiced and gathered together; attackers gathered against me, and I did not know it; they tore at me and did not cease; with ungodly mockers at feasts they gnashed at me with their teeth. 17 Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, my precious life from the lions. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.”
His besieged and aching heart unburdens itself as he casts all his cares upon Jehovah. How plain and pointed are his petitions in verses 19-26: “Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies, nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause. For they do not speak peace, but they devise deceitful matters against the quiet ones in the land. They also opened their mouth wide against me and said, ‘Aha, aha! Our eyes have seen it.’ This You have seen, O Lord; do not keep silence. O, Lord, do not be far from me. Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, to my cause, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me. Let them not say in their hearts, ‘Ah, so we would have it!’ Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up.’ Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who rejoice at my hurt; let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who exalt themselves against me.”
The joyful confidence that this storm of life will pass permeates David’s triumphal conclusion. Hope is not wishful thinking that vanishes like the mist; it is a massive anchor for the soul during life’s troublesome storms. Therefore, “Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, ‘Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.’ And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long” (vv. 27-28).