Ps 7:1 A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite. O LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
Kidner entitles this psalm ‘A Cry for Justice’, adding that ‘this psalm moves from the intensely personal plea of a man who is betrayed and hounded, to the conviction that God is judge of all the earth, and that wickedness is self-defeating.’
This psalm following closely the literary form commonly used for laments: invocation, complaint or definition of the crisis, petition, statement of confidence in God, and vow to praise God.
‘It appears by the title that this psalm was penned with a particular reference to the malicious imputations that David was unjustly laid under by some of his enemies. Being thus wronged, I. He applies to God for favour. (Ps 7:1,2) II. He appeals to God concerning his innocency as to those things whereof he was accused. (Ps 7:3-5) III. He prays to God to plead his cause and judge for him against his persecutors. (Ps 7:6-9) IV. He expresses his confidence in God that he would do so, and would return the mischief upon the head of those that designed it against him. (Ps 7:10-16) V. He promises to give God the glory of his deliverance. (Ps 7:17) In this David was a type of Christ, who was himself, and still is in his members, thus injured, but will certainly be righted at last.’ (Henry)
Plumer says that ‘many verses of the Psalm show that the truths of religion, which are often the least dwelt on are the most useful. God’s perfections and government are a great study. Let us often recur to them and other foundation truths.’
The only other place in Scripture where shiggaion is used is Hab 3:1.
‘Nothing is known of Cush; but from Absalom’s rebellion it emerged that Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, held some bitter enemies of David.’ 2 Sam 16:5ff 2 Sam 20:1ff (Kidner)
‘The injuries men do us should drive us to God, for to him we may commit our cause. Nay, he sings to the Lord; his spirit was not ruffled by it, nor cast down, but so composed and cheerful that he was still in tune for sacred songs and it did not occasion one jarring string in his harp. Thus let the injuries we receive from men, instead of provoking our passions, kindle and excite our devotions.’ (MHC)
1. His relation to God. “Thou art my God, and therefore whither else should I go but to thee? Thou art my God, and therefore my shield, (Ge 15:1) my God, and therefore I am one of thy servants, who may expect to be protected.”
2. His confidence in God: “Lord, save me, for I depend upon thee: In thee do I put my trust, and not in any arm of flesh.” Men of honour will not fail those that repose a trust in them, especially if they themselves have encouraged them to do so, which is our case.
3. The rage and malice of his enemies, and the imminent danger he was in of being swallowed up by them: “Lord, save me, or I am gone; he will tear my soul like a lion tearing his prey,” with so much pride, and pleasure, and power, so easily, so cruelly. St. Paul compares Nero to a lion, (2 Tim 4:17) as David here compares Saul.
4. The failure of all other helpers: “Lord, be thou pleased to deliver me, for otherwise there is none to deliver,” Ps 7:2. It is the glory of God to help the helpless.’ (MHC)
I take refuge in you; save… – Note the combination of trust in the fact that the Lord God is his unseen refuge, and pleading that the same God would deliver him. A measure of faith and of fear can co-exist, and often do.
Deliver me from all who pursue me – ‘In the Old Testament, God’s deliverance is almost always from temporal dangers. He rescues his people from their enemies (1 Sam 17:37 2 Kings 20:6) and from the hand of the wicked. (Ps 7:2 17:13 18:16-19 59:2 69:14 71:4) He preserves them from famine, (Ps 33:19) death, (Ps 22:19-21) and the grave. (Ps 56:13 86:13 Ho 13:14) The most striking deliverance, the exodus, (Ex 3:8 6:6 18:10) comprises the defining act of God as the deliverer of Israel. The promise that God delivers his people from sin and its consequences, although mentioned infrequently, completes the picture of God as the deliverer from all of humankind’s fears.’ (Ps 39:8 40:11-13 51:14 79:9) (EDBT)
Psa 7:2 or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
Ps 7:3 O LORD my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands-
Note the run of ‘ifs’ in v3f. Evidently, David was being wrongfully accused of some treachery. His code of honour dictates that if the accusations are true, he should suffer the due penalty. But he knows that they are not true.
‘God is the patron of wronged innocency. David had no court on earth to appeal to. His prince, who should have righted him, was his sworn enemy. But he had the court of heaven to fly to, and a righteous Judge there, whom he could call his God.’ (MHC)
It seems likely that the charge against David was that he had plotted treacherously against Saul. This he denies. Indeed, we know that he was magnanimous to a fault towards the volatile king. See 1 Sam 24:4 26:12. ‘So far from hiding treasonable intentions in his hands, or ungratefully requiting the peaceful deeds of a friend, he had even suffered his enemy to escape when he had him completely in his power. Twice had he spared Saul’s life; once in the cave of Adullam, and again when he found him sleeping in the midst of his slumbering camp: he could, therefore, with a clear conscience, make his appeal to heaven. He needs not fear the curse whose soul is clear of guilt.’ (Spurgeon)
Ps 7:4 if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or without cause have robbed my foe-
‘To do evil for good, is human corruption; to do good for good, is civil retribution; but to good for evil, is Christian perfection. Though this be not the grace of nature, yet it is the nature of grace.’ (William Secker)
Ps 7:5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust. Selah
Let him trample my life to the ground – ‘The allusion here is to the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they were rode over by horses, or trampled by men in the dust. The idea of David is, that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over him, should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn.’ (Barnes)
‘From these verses we may learn that no innocence can shield a man from the calumnies of the wicked. David had been scrupulously careful to avoid any appearance of rebellion against Saul, whom he constantly styled “the Lord’s anointed;” but all this could not protect him from lying tongues. As the shadow follows the substance, so envy pursues goodness. It is only at the tree laden with fruit that men throw stones. If we would live without being slandered we must wait till we get to heaven. Let us be very heedful not to believe the flying rumours which are always harassing gracious men. If there are no believers in lies there will be but a dull market in falsehood, and good men’s characters will be safe. Ill will never spoke well. Sinners have an ill will to saints, and therefore, be sure they will not speak well of them.’ (Spurgeon)
Ps 7:6 Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.
This passage (vv6-11) exalts God as righteous judge. Note how does does not seek to take revenge himself, but refers the matter to God. Deut 32:35.
Awake – Cf. Ps 44:23 n. ‘This is a bolder utterance still, for it implies sleep as well as inactivity, and can only be applied to God in a very limited sense. He never slumbers, yet doth he often seem to do so; for the wicked prevail, and the saints are trodden in the dust. God’s silence is the patience of longsuffering, and if wearisome to the saints, they should bear it cheerfully in the hope that sinners may thereby be led to repentance.’ (Spurgeon)
Psa 7:7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you. Rule over them from on high;
Ps 7:8 let the LORD judge the peoples. Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.
‘There is a judicial setting in this psalm of refuge. God must judge between the psalmist and his opponents.’ (New Geneva)
David’s righteousness and integrity are, of course, relative rather than absolute.
‘Believers! let not the terror of that day dispirit you when you meditate upon it; let those who have slighted the Judge, and continue enemies to him and the way of holiness, droop and hang down their heads when they think of his coming; but lift ye up your heads with joy, for the last day will be your best day. The Judge is your Head and Husband, your Redeemer, and your Advocate. Ye must appear before the judgment seat; but ye shall not come into condemnation. His coming will not be against you, but for you. It is otherwise with unbelievers, a neglected Saviour will be a severe Judge.’ (Thomas Boston)
Ps 7:9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.
Up until now in this psalm, David has sought personal vindication. Now he expresses his longing for universal justice and righteousness.
‘Justice is rooted in the very nature of God. (Isa 40:14) He evenhandedly rewards good, and he does not ignore the sins of any. (Ps 33:5 37:6,28 97:2 99:4) Human judges do well to remember God in their courts. God does not take bribes (Deut 10:17) or pervert justice in any way. (Ge 18:25 2 Chron 19:7)
At the same time, God rarely delivers instant justice. The world does not seem fair while evil still abounds, and so the oppressed petition God to intervene on their behalf. (Ps 7:9 Pr 29:26) Their prayers may even take the form of a complaint, (Hab 1:2-4) although people must not challenge God’s essential justice. (Job 40:8 Mal 2:17) That God will decisively intervene in the future is the biblical hope.’ (EDBT)
Plumer, commenting on vv9-11, says, ‘It is on the common truths of religion we must chiefly rely to stir us up, and support us. That which is recondite is seldom of much service. Men are not saved by metaphysics, nor by truths hard to be understood by the docile, but by simple”] and plain truths.’
Bring to an end the violence of the wicked – There are two ways in which this might happen: in their destruction, or in their conversion.
Make the righteous secure – ‘As we pray that the bad maybe made good, so we pray that the good may be made better, that they may not be seduced by the wiles of the wicked nor shocked by their malice, that they may be confirmed in their choice of the ways of God and in their resolution to persevere therein, may be firm to the interests of God and religion and zealous in their endeavours to bring the wickedness of the wicked to an end.’ (MHC)
‘As far as we have the testimony of an unbiased conscience for us that in any instance we are wronged and injuriously reflected on, we may, in singing these verses, lodge our appeal with the righteous God, and be assured that he will own our righteous cause, and will one day, in the last day at furthest, bring forth our integrity as the light.’ (MHC)
Ps 7:10 my shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.
My shield is God Most High – ‘There are many casualties and contingencies which are incident to life. God mercifully prevents them. He keeps watch and ward for his children. ‘My defence is of God’. (Ps 7:10) ‘He that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep’. (Ps 121:4) The eye of providence is ever awake. God gives his angels charge over his children. (Ps 91:11) A believer has a guard of angels for his lifeguard. We read of the wings of God in Scripture. As the breast of his mercy feeds his children, so the wings of his power cover them. How miraculously did God preserve Israel his firstborn! He with his wings sometimes covered, sometimes carried them. ‘He bare you as upon eagles, wings’, (Ex 19:4) an emblem of God’s providential care. The eagle fears no bird from above to hurt her young, only the arrow from beneath. Therefore she carries them upon her wings that the arrow must first hit her before it can come at her young ones. Thus God carries his children upon the wings of providence, and they are such that there is no clipping these wings, nor can any arrow hurt them.’ (Watson)
Ps 7:11 God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.
God is a righteous judge – ‘In Scripture, God is ‘the Judge of all the earth’, (Ge 18:25) and his dealings with men are constantly described in forensic terms. Righteousness, i.e. conformity with his law, is what he requires of men, and he shows his own righteousness as Judge in taking vengeance on those who fall short of it (cf. Ps 7:11, RV; Isa 5:16 10:22 Acts 17:31 Rom 2:5 3:5f). There is no hope for anyone if God’s verdict goes against him.’ (J.I Packer, NBD)
A God who expresses his wrath every day – It is not only David himself who feels outrage: he knows that God does so too. God’s righteous indignation burns hotter and more consistently than any human zeal, having (says Kidner) ‘no tendency to cool down into either compromise or despair.’ See JEM “Rev 6:16”
The anger of God against the unrighteous is expressed in Ps 7:11 21:8,9 Isa 3:8 13:9 Na 1:2,3 Rom 1:18 2:8 Eph 5:6 Col 3:6.
‘God hath set up his royal standard in defiance of all the sons and daughters of apostate Adam, who from his own mouth are proclaimed rebels and traitors to his crown and dignity; and as against such he hath taken the field, as with fire and sword, to be avenged on them. Yea, he gives the world sufficient testimony of his incensed wrath, by that of it which is revealed from heaven daily in the judgments executed upon sinners, and those many but of a span long, before they can show what nature they have by actual sin, yet crushed to death by God’s righteous foot, only for the viperous kind of which they come. At every door where sin sets its foot, there the wrath of God meets us. Every faculty of soul, and member of body, are used as a weapon of unrighteousness against God; so every one hath its portion of wrath, even to the tip of the tongue. As man is sinful all over, so is he cursed all over. Inside and outside, soul and body, is written all with woes and curses, so close and full, that there is not room for another to interline, or add to what God hath written.’ (William Gurnall)
‘Unlike pagan gods, whose tirades reflect the fickleness of their human creators, Yahweh “expresses his wrath every day” because he is a righteous judge. (Ps 7:11) At the same time, God is merciful and not easily provoked to anger. (Ex 34:6 Ps 103:8-9)
God may choose to display his wrath within historical events, as in Israel’s wilderness wanderings (Ps 95:10-11) or the Babylonian exile. (La 2:21-22) But his wrath will be fully expressed on the dies irae, the day of wrath at the end of the age, when all wrongs will be punished. (Zep 1:14-18)
John the Baptist warns of God’s fiery judgment. (Mt 3:7) Jesus will execute God’s wrath at his second coming. (Rev 6:15-17) While the wicked already stand under God’s condemnation, (Jn 3:36 Eph 2:3) by sinning, they continue to store up wrath. (Rom 2:5 9:22) But God in his mercy sent Jesus to turn away his anger by a sacrifice of propitiation. (Rom 3:25 5:9 1 Jn 2:2 4:10)
Some have doubted whether a God of love can experience anger toward his creatures. The Jewish philosopher Philo championed the Stoic idea that a perfect being by definition could not become angry. In the twentieth century, C. H. Dodd held that “wrath of God” is merely symbolic of the fact that sin has consequences. But such viewpoints reveal more about the writers’ theological assumptions than the consistent teaching of the Bible.’ (EDBT)
‘As his mercies are new every morning toward his people, so his anger is new every morning against the wicked.’ (MHC)
Ps 7:12 If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow.
If he does not relent – or, ‘if a man does not relent’ (NASB and others).
Here are ‘three converging lines of retribution: the wrath of God (12f) and the inherent fertility (v14) and futility (v15f) of evil.’ (Kidner)
See what a formidable foe the living God is, v12f.
‘How few do believe what a quarrel God hath with wicked men? And that not only with the loose, but the formal and hypocritical also? If we did we would tremble as much to be among them as to be in a house that is falling; we would endeavour to “save” ourselves “from this untoward generation.” The apostle would not so have adjured them, so charged, so entreated them, had he not known the danger of wicked company. “God is angry with the wicked every day;” his bow is bent, the arrows are on the string; the instruments for their ruin are all prepared. And is it safe to be there where the arrows of God are ready to fly about our ears?’ (Lewis Stuckley)
In a sermon entitled ‘Turn or Burn’, C.H. Spurgeon said: ‘If I consulted my own feelings I should not mention it; but we must not consider our feelings in the work of the ministry, any more than we should if we were physicians of men’s bodies. We must sometimes use the knife, when we feel that mortification would ensue without it. We must frequently make sharp gashes into men’s consciences, in the hope that the Holy Spirit will bring them to life. We assert, then, that there is a necessity that God should whet his sword and punish men, if they will not turn.’
Ps 7:13 he has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows.
‘If God will slay, he will not want instruments of death for any creature; even the least and weakest may be made so when he pleases. First, Here is variety of instruments, all which breathe threatenings and slaughter. Here is a sword, which wounds and kills at hand, a bow and arrows, which wound and kill at a distance those who think to get out of the reach of God’s vindictive justice. If the sinner flees from the iron weapon, yet the bow of steel shall strike him through, Job 20:24. Secondly, These instruments of death are all said to be made ready. God has them not to seek, but always at hand. Judgments are prepared for scorners. Tophet is prepared of old. Thirdly, While God is preparing his instruments of death, he gives the sinners timely warning of their danger, and space to repent and prevent it. He is slow to punish, and long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish. Fourthly, The longer the destruction is delayed, to give time for repentance, the sorer will it be and the heavier will it fall and lie for ever if that time be not so improved; while God is waiting the sword is in the whetting and the bow in the drawing. Fifthly, The destruction of impenitent sinners, though it come slowly, yet comes surely; for it is ordained, they are of old ordained to it. Sixthly, Of all sinners persecutors are set up as the fairest marks of divine wrath; against them, more than any other, God has ordained his arrows. They set God at defiance, but cannot set themselves out of the reach of his judgments.’ (MHC)
Ps 7:14 he who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment.
Verses 14-15 ‘express the conviction that a sinner reaps what he sows. Sin brings its own retribution.’ (New Geneva) These verses preset two striking illustrations of the self-destructiveness – the futility and fatality – of wickedness: (a) the wicked person is like a pregnant woman who, after the pains of labour miscarries; evil promises much, but leads only to misery.
This picture ‘has the same hard logic as our Lord’s sayings on the bad tree or the evil treasure, Lk 6:43-45. The metaphor itself is used in Jas 1:15 for the growth-cycle of desire-sin-death.
Ps 7:15 he who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made.
(b) the wicked person is like someone who works hard to dig a pit (as a trap), then falls into it himself, v15f. ‘The practice of making pitfalls was anciently not only employed for ensnaring wild beasts, but was also a stratagem used against men by the enemy, in time of war. The idea, therefore, refers to a man who, having made such a pit, whether for man or beast, and covered it over so as completely to disguise the danger, did himself inadvertently tread on his own trap, and fall into the pit he had prepared for another.’ (Pictorial Bible)
‘This third form of judgement, that of evil coming home to roost, v15f, operates unevenly in the material realm, but inescapably in that of the spirit, in the baleful effect of a wrong attitude on the one who harbours it, (cf. 1 Jn 2:11) more disastrous t him than any suffering he inflicts on others.’ (Kidner)
No juster law can be devised or made,
Than that sin’s agents fall by their own trade.
Psa 7:16 The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.
Ps 7:17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
‘In the darkest hours it is well to praise God. Job did so. So did Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi. If we are God’s servants, we can always praise God for what he is, for what he has done for others, for much that he has done for us, for what we exepct him to do for us. We should often give thanks for anticipated victories. We should praise him for our keenest afflictions.’ (Plumer)
‘Let us under all our trials look unto the Saviour. He alone was perfect in righteousness, yet none was ever reviled, slandered, and hated as he was. He lived and died doing good to his enemies, and praying for them.’ Plumer, in quoting this from Scott, adds, ‘We can never err in looking to Jesus for example, or precept, or strength, or wisdom, or righteousness.’