Leithart next looks at Psalm 35. his main point here seems to be that, since the language of courtroom and battlefield are so mixed here, that therefore forensic language “is not always strictly tied to ‘forensic’ situations” (p. 219). However, he only cites verses 2-3 as evidence of a military setting. But this is no different from what we might say today, “I fought a courtroom battle today.” The question here is this: how is the language metaphorical? Which set of metaphors is more basic/more prevalent? I believe that the clear answer with regard to Psalm 35 is that the courtroom language is far more prevalent and controlling than the military language. Therefore, the military language is metaphorical of the courtroom. First of all, the Psalm starts with the courtroom imagery, as Leithart notes (p. 218). But surely, the idea that “coutroom language emerges now and then throughout the Psalm” is an understatement. Witness (!) the following data: “put to shame” (vs. 4); “malicious witnesses” (vs. 11); “look on” (vs. 17); “you have seen” (calls on God as witness, vs. 22); all of verses 23-26 are clearly determined by courtroom language, with such words as “vindication,” “righteousness,” “shame,” and “dishonor” occuring regularly. Through and through, this Psalm is riddled with courtroom imagery. It is certainly the most prominent set of images. Leithart’s argument here makes me feel that he is trying to jumble up all the metaphors so that everything describes one act. The language does not force that to be the case.
Two other things must therefore be argued: firstly, the other metaphors do not have to be interpreted in such a way that the courtroom imagery has to include the others within its own conceptual framework. Again, Leithart has not proven his point here by excluding all the alternatives. Even if his claim were true that the imagery was so mixed, that would not justify (!) us in saying that the metaphors have to be all jumbled together. For instance, an unfavorable verdict for David’s accusers results in deliverance from them. The text nowhere forces us to say that they are the same act. The one can be the perfectly logical and ordinary result of the other. This leads us to the second point: being vindicated in a courtroom results in dignity and honor commensurate with the confirmed status of being innocent. This is not the same thing as being delivered from sin. It is the same as being delivered from guilt. So, here, to a certain extent, I can use Leithart’s term “deliverdict,” as long as it is understood of deliverance from guilt, and not deliverance from power or presence.