New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 7:1 A meditation by David, which he sang to Yahweh, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite- Cush may be another name for Shimei; or perhaps "the black one of Benjamin" may be another term for Saul. But much in the Psalm is so appropriate to Shimei's cursing of David as he fled from Absalom. But it could equally refer to some supporter of Saul the Benjamite during David's wilderness years. Most likely it could be that a Psalm composed in the wilderness years was later rewritten by David with reference to Shimei's abuse of him.  

Yahweh my God, I take refuge in You. Save me from all those who pursue me and deliver me-
The idea is that God was David's city of refuge. These cities were for those who needed to flee when being chased by the avenger of blood (Num. 35:26). The imagery is very appropriate to David when fleeing from Saul and Absalom. David's constant meditation upon God's law would have included the sections about the cities of refuge; he realized that actually no such city was available for him, but the spirit of the law led him to reflect that Yahweh was his refuge, wherever he was. David tends to open wilderness Psalms with this reflection, just as we may tend to begin prayers with the same opening phrase and thoughts (Ps. 7:1; 11:1; 16:1; 31:1; 57:1; 71:1).

Psa 7:2 lest they tear apart my soul like a lion, ripping it in pieces while there is none to deliver-
The tenses appear to be saying that this was ongoing. In this case, we see the power of words (:1); the same lesson as taught in the agony Job suffered because of the words of his friends. The image of a lion "ripping to pieces" is the language used of Judah's sufferings at the hands of their enemies (s.w. Ez. 19:12; Zech. 11:16). This Psalm of David was likely used in that context, as it can be by all of us when being ripped apart by others.

Psa 7:3 Yahweh, my God, if I have done this, if there is iniquity in my hands-
David has said these words in a different context, addressed to Jonathan, in
1 Sam. 20:8. This is one of those powerful incidental proofs that the scriptures are accurate and inspired; it is circumstantially credible that a man would use the same turn of phrase both to God and to his close friend. Perhaps this total denial of iniquity was something which, in the bigger picture, the Bathsheba incident was used by God to correct. When we are under patently false accusation, we can easily assume we are in fact innocent totally of any sin at any time in our lives. Reading through the book of Psalms in one or two sittings reveals that frequent and intense self-examination was a leading characteristic of David:, especially while on the run from Saul; as if he began to pick up false guilt from how he was being treated, wondering if it was all in fact justified (Ps. 4:4; 7:3; 17:3; 18:20-24; 19:12; 26:1; 39:1; 59:3; 66:18; 77:6; 86:2; 101:2; 109:3; 139:23,24).

Psa 7:4 if I have rewarded evil to him who was at peace with me (yes, if I have delivered him who without cause was my adversary)-
David sounds like Job at this point, in Job's great clearing of himself. But he like David (see on :3) had to be brought to realize that he had protested too much against the patent false accusations made against him. See on :10.

Psa 7:5 let the enemy pursue my soul, and overtake it; yes, let him tread my life down to the earth, and lay my glory in the dust-
This again recalls the speeches of Job; see on :4. David felt as if he had been trodden down into the dust; his argument was that this should only have happened if he had done bad things. Whilst he had not done what he was accused of, he had yet to realize that he was all the same a sinner, saved by grace alone.

Psa 7:6 Arise, Yahweh, in Your anger; lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries. Awake for me; You have commanded judgment-
There is a repeated Biblical theme that the believer's relationship with the Father too is essentially mutual. David lifts himself up to God (Ps. 25:1; 28:2; 86:4), and asks God to lift up Himself in response (Ps. 7:6; 10:12; 94:2). David has no doubt that God's judgment is ongoing and that He had "commanded judgment" against Saul; which he knew anyway from the fact Samuel had prophetically condemned Saul on God's behalf. But he impatiently yearned for that Divine word to be activated. The truth was, and is, that in the gap between the Divine judgment and the realization of it- there is an opportunity for repentance, so that the word of judgment may not have to be fulfilled. We all live in that gap.


Psa 7:7 Let the congregation of the peoples surround You. Rule over them on high-
David's conception of the judgment seat was of all nations being judged there, along with Saul and the responsible within Israel. David clearly has in view not merely salvation from Saul and his judgment, but the visible involvement of God to judge all peoples- the picture of the Kingdom of God established upon earth. And then His Kingdom or rulership over all would be established.

Psa 7:8 Yahweh administers judgment to the peoples. Judge me, Yahweh, according to my righteousness, and to my integrity that is in me-
 To God, slanderers and false teachers within the ecclesia already are given their condemnation (Rom. 3:8). "The Lord shall judge the people... God judgeth (present tense) the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day... he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows" (Ps. 7:8,11-13 AV). God is now judging men, and preparing their final reward. For the wicked, the arrow is prepared in the bow, the sword is sharpened- all waiting for the final day in which the present judgments will be executed.

Psa 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; their minds and hearts are searched by the righteous God-
The future day of global judgment which was in view (see on :7) would essentially be of minds and hearts; David saw through the persecution of Saul to the essential issue, which was that his heart was not right with God. His desire for the "wicked [to] come to an end" speaks of his desire for the death of Saul, and for the establishment of his own kingdom. He saw himself as "the righteous". We wonder if he would have been better to be somewhat more self critical at this point. For he was only "righteous" relative to the sin of Saul, and was not ultimately "righteous" before God, as he later comes to perceive.


Psa 7:10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart-
As noted on :9, David might have been a bit more self critical at this point. For he sees himself as "the upright in heart", when there is not a man on earth who sins not- apart from the Lord Jesus. I noted on :4,5,14 that David is seeing himself as Job, and he here continues that connection, seeing that Job is described likewise as "upright in heart" (Job 1:8; 2:3). David sees this as characteristic of all God's people (s.w. Ps. 11:2; 19:8; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11). He sees the wicked as those who are not upright (Ps. 14:3; 53:1,3). But these words which David writes about the wicked are then reinterpreted as applying to all men, God's people included (Rom. 3:12). Like Job, David had to be taught that actually he was failing to see the seriousness of sin; righteousness and acceptability with God is imputed to men by grace through faith, because actually there are none who are upright in heart, apart from God's representative son.

Psa 7:11 God is a righteous judge, yes, a God who has indignation every day-
Although David wants the day of future judgment to come (see on :7), he recognizes that God has not suspended judgment until that last day; He is actively judging now, although He will not fully articulate that judgment until the day of judgment.

Psa 7:12 If a man doesn’t relent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent and strung His bow-
There is a gap between God's pronouncement of judgment and carrying it out. During that gap there can be repentance, and the threatened judgments won't come. We all live within that gap. Even for the likes of Saul and his Benjamite supporters (:1), there was this opportunity for repentance.

Psa 7:13 He has also Himself prepared the instruments of death, He makes ready His burning arrows-
David appears to see God as having prepared torture instruments which will be used to bring about the destruction and death of the wicked at the last day. But we wonder whether David was giving due weight to the fact that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; His passion is rather for their repentance in this life (Ez. 33:11). But that desire to see Saul or other abusers repenting... is not much seen in David.


Psa 7:14 Behold, he travails with iniquity. Yes, he has conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood-
David contrasts the behaviour of the wicked with the activity of God in preparing judgment for them (:13). This juxtaposition is true only on one level; the essence of the matter is that God is far more interested in the repentance of the wicked than in destroying them, necessary as that may finally be (Ez. 33:11). He is quoting here from Job 15:35; see on :4,5,10. But David is correct to perceive that sin begins in the human heart, and brings forth sin and then death through a process internal to the human mind (as in James 1:13-15).

Psa 7:15 He has dug a hole, and has fallen into the pit which he made-
This again is true, but we note David's apparent lack of desire to offer repentance to his abusers; for the way of God is to save those who are in the holes dug by themselves. For we are all in that position.

Psa 7:16 The trouble he causes shall return upon his own head, his violence shall come down on the crown of his own head-
In the context of Shimei, whose cursing was the initial context of this Psalm (see on :1), David sought himself to bring this about. He told Solomon to ensure that Shimei's head and grey hairs should be brought down with blood to the grave by him (1 Kings 2:8,9). This unspiritual attitude of David was rooted in the way that at the earlier point, here in Ps. 7:16, David rejoiced in the thought that Shimei would be condemned by God; and sets about to bring that condemnation about himself. This surely was a case of taking Divine judgment into his own hand in a way he should not have done, and quite overlooking the Divine desire for repentance.

Psa 7:17 I will give thanks to Yahweh according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of Yahweh Most High
This praise appears to be at the prospect of God condemning Shimei; when in fact God is far more interested in the repentance of the wicked than in destroying them, necessary as that may finally be (Ez. 33:11).