Reflections on the Seventh Psalm
Reflections on the Seventh Psalm
(A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite.)
O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue (persecute) me, and deliver me.
Or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.
O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice (or iniquity) in my hands
If I have rewarded evil to my friend, or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,
Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; and let him trample my life down to the ground, and lay my glory in the dust. Selah.
Arise, O LORD, in Your anger; lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, and arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You, and over them return on high.
The LORD judges the peoples; vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for the righteous God tries the hearts and minds (reins, kidneys, KJV).
My shield (defence) is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation (is angry with the wicked) every day.
If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.
He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, he travails with wickedness, and he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hold which he made.
His mischief will return upon his own head, and his violence will descend upon his own pate.
I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
(New American Standard Bible)
The title of this Psalm is ‘Shiggaion’. It’s a wild, passionate cry. David is being pursued by a ruthless enemy. None other than Saul. ‘Cush, a Benjamite’ appears to be a word for Saul. Was not Saul, the son of Kish (Cush)?
We notice that David is being falsely accused. Note the words: ‘If there be iniquity in my hands.’ ‘If I have rewarded evil to my friend.’ 7:3, 4. Again, regarding his enemy: ‘He conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.’ ‘His mischief will return upon his own head.’ 7:14, 15. It is clear that he is not only being pursued, but he is also being slandered by his enemies. (Every child of God must go through these attacks of slander and vilification. Satan is the one who keeps accusing us falsely. If his direct attack fails, then he will try calumny and lies. He hates the children of God.) David was one who was hated more than any other man of God, barring Joseph and (in the New Testament) Paul. He was neglected by his father, scorned and rebuked by his brothers, envied and pursued by Saul and cursed foully by Shimei.
Why was Saul so angry with David, and why did he want to ‘tear his soul like a lion’? (The root cause was envy. Saul had become envious of David’s success. We remember envy was one of the chief causes for the Jewish priests and scribes to crucify Christ!) David recollects the sight of a lion dragging away a poor, defenseless lamb. David had come to its rescue. In the same way, as a weak, defenceless lamb, he cries out to God to rescue him from the rage of his enemies. 7:2.
We see David pleading his innocence. 7:3. He never conspired against Saul, despite Saul trying to kill him again and again. His heart was pure; his hands were clean. In fact, twice David had let Saul escape (1 Sam 24 & 26).
David cries out to God the Righteous Judge. Twice he calls Him, ‘LORD, my God’ (This is the first time we come across this phrase in the Psalms). Yes, Jehovah is MY God. He is MY Redeemer. The Lord Jesus Christ is MY God, MY Lord and MY Savior.
But the LORD is also Judge, the Righteous Judge of all humanity, seated on the Throne, His Judgment Seat, 7:6-8, surrounded by His people who cry out for justice. Yes, the Lord will vindicate His people. No weapon formed against them will prosper; and every tongue that falsely accuses them will the Lord condemn. Isaiah 54.17.
David pleads his righteousness and his integrity, 7:8, just like Job. But he goes a step further than Job; as a man after God’s own heart, he takes refuge in God and sees God as his shield and defence, 7:10. David has left the matter of his vindication in the hands of his Righteous Judge, 7:11.
Finally, we see how the Righteous Judge responds. If the anger of the wicked is like a fierce lion pouncing on a poor lamb, the wrath of God is even more terrible. God is angry with the wicked every day, 7:11b. He is patient and longsuffering, wanting the wicked to repent, 7:12a. But if he does not, then the Lord’s sword and arrows (fiery shafts) will fall on him. That’s exactly what happened to Saul. Saul was wounded by the arrows of the Philistines (who he plotted to use to destroy David), and was killed by the sword of the Amalekite (whom he spared in 1 Sam 15).
God’s retribution! Haman was hanged upon the gallows he himself had prepared. Ahitophel’s cunning recoiled on himself, and he went and hanged himself. Even the Rich Man in Luke’s gospel, who did not give a crumb to the beggar Lazarus, received not a drop in return. As you sow, you shall reap, Gal 6.7
The Inward Cross: Purpose of Fiery Trials
David says, 'The righteous God tries the hearts and the minds (reins, kidneys, innermost parts, KJV). We are sorely tried, through fiery trials. As God’s children, we have to go through such painful experiences. Envy, jealousy, malice, hate. It was out of envy that the chief priests accused the Lord Jesus before Pilate, and stirred up the crowd to demand our Lord’s crucifixion. Envy like a canker burns in the soul and blinds us with hate. Our greatest enemies are from within; false friends who betray us, jealous companions (like Judas). Why do we have to go through such terrible experiences of the cross? So that the flesh may not rise up in us, but is kept subdued. If the flesh is not crucified, if the cross has not dealt with our old nature, we too are capable of betraying the Lord and denying Him and behaving no better than the uncircumcised Philistines. The Philistines dwelt in Palestine along with the Israelites; but the difference was that they were ‘uncircumcised’ (the mark of the cross was lacking in them). So also in the church, we find a mixed multitude. And it takes the cross, working in a deep inward way, to separate the sheep from the goats.
If you are walking with the Lord, you will go through the experiences that David describes in the Psalms. The Lord in His wisdom takes His children through these fiery experiences so that they can learn how deceitful and wicked the human heart is, and how incorrigible the flesh remains through the entire journey of our life upon earth.
© Roland Oliver/Pratonix