A Real Assessment

Psalm 7
A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.
1O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
3O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands,
4if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause,
5let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
6Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
8The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
9Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!
10My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
11God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
12If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;
13he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.
14Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.
15He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made.
16His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.
17I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Each Psalm demands a thorough reading. That is the first conclusion I reach this morning as I read and reread this psalm. And of course along with thorough reading goes frequent reading for there would be new and interesting things to find in each psalm with repeated exposure over a lifetime. The Scripture lives. Having examined this passage probably 20 times in this sitting, I find something new each time although the first five readings ended with my mind racing to find something significant to say about these Words. At first this psalm appeared to be pretty dismal. After some reflection I find that it isn’t dismal at all. It’s filled with trust in God and evidence of an honest relationship between God and David.

With that said, let’s dig into this particular psalm with an eye toward the details. First of all, the word “Shiggaion”; this is probably a liturgical or musical notation indicating what type of music is used in the presentation of this psalm for worship. But we say probably because no one is really sure about that. Also, “Cush the Benjaminite” isn’t listed specifically as a person in David’s story, although it could be a name for King Saul (a Benjaminite) who clearly acted as David’s enemy throughout 20 years of David’s life.

David starts out just as he does many of the psalms by asking God to deal quickly and severely with his enemies. But then in an interesting twist he holds up his own life and gives God permission to deal with him in a punishing way if he is guilty of harming another. Then he goes back to seeking God’s justice in his case, claiming God’s shielding around himself. Clearly, he is quite certain of his own innocence in this particular case. Finally, all the glory and praise goes to God for His righteousness and protection.

David’s definition of the wicked man is apt and accurate. Wickedness conceives evil, hatches a plot, and then births sin and sorrow. But David’s solution is pretty cool. Let the wicked man fall into his own pit.

14Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.
15He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made.

One cannot help but think of the wicked antagonist in the story of Queen Esther. Haman seeks the death of all the Jews and builds a gallows specifically for Esther’s uncle, only to finally be hung on them himself. God’s sense of justice and dare I say irony is perfect.

I am struck by David’s boldness. I would never be brave enough to ask God to let my enemies have their way with me if I am not innocent. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. But David is certain of his own righteousness in this case. I too am certain of my own righteousness – but only in the blood of Jesus. My only remaining struggle with this psalm is that I cannot think of any people I would claim as my enemy so I disconnect at that level. And for that, I am so very grateful to God Almighty.