Notes on Psalm 7: The Slandered Saint

 

"end of the day" by Paul Bica on Flickr

(1a)  <Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.>

Spurgeon said we could call Psalm 7 the Song of the Slandered Saint, and that is certainly accurate. We do not know much about what gave rise to this psalm, but it has been suggested that the villain, Cush, is one of Saul’s supporters or captains who has been bringing Saul a bad report. The fact that this Cush is a Benjamite could support this, as Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin. These events could also have taken place later, as the enmity between Benjamin and David went on for some time.

This is another psalm of trouble. David cries out to God concerning the evil of the wicked and is teaching people that what they sow in wickedness they will surely reap. Finally, at the end of the Psalm, he expresses confidence that God will vindicate him because he has been righteous in this matter.

Shiggaion is a word that means this is a wild song. It is said to come from a word meaning to reel around as though drunken. It is a song of passionate intensity. Only Psalm 7 and Habakkuk 3 are referred to with this title.

 

(1b) O LORD my God, in You do I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me, and deliver me.

(2) Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

(3) O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands,

(4) If I have rewarded evil to him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy)

(5) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life on the earth, and lay my honor in the dust. Selah.

  • David expresses trust in the Lord in the face of persecution. This was no accident – this was deliberate and deadly persecution. Remember that Saul in his madness would love to have killed David. Saul was no doubt willing to pay a good bounty to anyone who could deliver David’s head, and even had scores of priests killed because they had helped him.
  • The lion image is a very vivid one. David, having been a shepherd, had seen what lions could do and in at least one instance had battled and killed one to protect his flock.
  • David makes a deal or a bargain with God – if he, David, had truly done what he was being accused of doing, he told God that the enemy could have his soul and trample his body on the ground. This was another graphic image from ancient warfare and one which David had certainly seen – men being run over by horses or even chariots. He was willing to undergo this kind of mangling if he were lying.
  • David had not rewarded good with evil; indeed, he had actually delivered people who were his enemies for no reason at all. Jesus said that if we only love those who love us there is no reward, for even pagans do as much. David foreshadowed the love of God in Christ by loving those who were his enemies.
  • This section ends with a “selah,” as the musicians would continue their “wild song” and we would reflect on David’s innocence and the rightness of his heart in the matter, seeing he was blessing his enemies.

 

(6) Arise, O LORD, in Your anger, lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies, and awake for me to the judgment that You have commanded.

(7) So shall the congregation of the people surround You; for their sakes therefore return on high.

  • Here is another request, so frequent in the first few Psalms, for God to arise. From David’s perspective, God has not been doing very much on his behalf! He needs to remind God that his enemies are raging, and that these are the kinds of people who “shoot first and ask questions later.”
  • Still David knows that God is just, and so he assumes that God has already decided to do something about the situation. Therefore he asks God: awake to the judgment You have commanded.
  • The result of God’s favor towards David will be that the people will surround God. This means they will surround Him in worship, or it may mean they will come around Him to make petitions for deliverance as David has been doing. The picture of returning on high means to return to the high throne of judgment so He can make commands for His people to be delivered.

 

(8) The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity that is in me.

(9) Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God tries the hearts and reins.

(10) My defense is from God, who saves the upright in heart.

(11) God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

  • He is confident that God will judge the people, and asks to be judged according to his righteousness in the matter.

 

(12) If he does not turn, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow, and made it ready.

(13) He has also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordains His arrows against the persecutors.

(14) Behold, he labors with iniquity, and has conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

(15) He made a pit, and dug it, and has fallen into the ditch which he made.

(16) His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own crown.

(17) I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

  • David expresses the common belief that God will punish the wicked using the devices of the wicked. We can call this the “Haman’s Gallows Principle,” after Haman in the Book of Esther, who was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

 

Photo credit: Image by Paul Bica on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

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About Nick

I’m a pastor, a writer, musician, and recovering lawyer. Blessed to serve the people of Harvest Time Church as Associate Pastor. I direct the discipleship ministries there and occasionally they even let me lead worship. In my spare time I enjoy losing to my wife in Words With Friends.

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