George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 1

Psalm 7

1. Title

Shiggaion occurs here and, as the plural Shigionoth, in Habakkuk 3:1. The words mean to cry aloud, or to “roar” (as a lion: cp. Psa. 7:2), either be-cause of pain or danger.

Cush signifies black: Who was “Cush the Benjamite”? Perhaps Saul (of Benjamin: 1 Sam. 9:1,2) was so called because of the blackness of his moods, or his (later) character (1 Sam. 20:1; 23:23; 26:18,19). Compare also the similarity to the name of Saul’s father, Kish (1 Sam. 9:1).

Gittith = “the winepress” (as in Psalms 80; 83; Judg. 6:11; Neh. 13:15). The “winepress” psalms were designed to be sung in the autumn, in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:39-43). The treading of grapes was a figure of harvest joy (Isa. 16:10) and a symbol of divine judgment (Isa. 63:3-6).

2. Outline

Verses 1-10 are a personal appeal to the Lord for help in time of trouble, and verses 11-17 are a general statement about the judgments of the Lord.

God alone can save
David declares his righteousness
David calls on God to act
God the Righteous Judge
God will punish the unrepentant wicked
Final praise of God

3. Historical Background

David has a special individual persecutor in mind (the “he” /“him” of vv. 2,4,5). This was probably Saul, who suffered the same fate, at the hands of the Philistines (see vv. 12,13), which he had planned for David (vv. 15,16; 1 Sam. 18:17-25): “Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.” David, meanwhile, was saved by the Philistines (1 Sam. 27:1-3).

Do I put my trust is, literally, “I take refuge” (NIV, RSV) or “find shelter” (NEB), as in the caves of Adullam or the strongholds of Engedi.

Persecute is actually “pursue” (RV), s.w. 1 Sam. 24:14.
Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver. The reference to a lion recalls David’s earlier, shepherd experiences: 1 Sam. 17:34-37.

David declares his innocence in regard to Saul. Notice the coincidental use of “hands” here and in 1 Sam. 24:9-11. See also 26:8,9,17-20.
I have (even) delivered him that without cause is mine enemy (i.e. Saul), when it was in my power to kill him: 1 Sam. 24:7; 26:9).
Arise, O Lord, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded. A plea for God to awake and to arise. No longer must He merely sit and watch; He must now stand and intervene on behalf of His servant. This appeal to God to break His silence and act openly is found in the other “winepress” psalms also (80:1; 83:1).
The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. Parallel to 1 Sam. 24:12,15 (spoken by David to Saul): “The Lord therefore judge between me and thee.”
If he turn not, he will whet his word; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors. The bow and the sword were both used to slay Saul (1 Sam. 31:3,4)! The arrows of the aliens were in fact God’s arrows, “ordained” by Him against David’s enemy Saul.
Upon his own pate is perhaps an allusion to the rich fool Nabal, whose wickedness was returned upon his own head (1 Sam. 25:39), but not by David’s hand, during the wilderness sojourn. “Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost” (C. H. Spurgeon).

4. Messianic reference

The protest of innocence in vv. 3-5 (and also v. 8) is echoed by Christ in John 8:46: “What man can convict me of any sin?” Compare also John 10:32 and 1 Peter 2:23.

Yet Christ finds himself surrounded by his enemies, encompassed by a great congregation of people. Thus he calls upon his Father to arise and judge his enemies.

The vindication that Jesus sought (v. 6) he found at last in his resurrection (Rom. 1:4; John 12:31,32; Acts 17:31 — cp. with Psa. 7:8). The judgment of the Lord was already “appointed” (cp. again Acts 17:31: “He hath appointed a day”).

Only Christ could say, with absolute assurance: Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness.
This may also refer to Christ’s masterful ability to turn the subtle questions of the Pharisees and Sadducees back upon their own heads.

5. Other details

Can “souls” be torn in pieces by wild animals? It appears so.

None to deliver, i.e. without human help: Isa. 59:16; 63:5.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake” (Matt. 5:11).
Let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. The manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they were ridden over by horses and chariots, and crushed into the dust.
The wickedness of the wicked is clearly the counterpart of the “proverb of the ancients” in 1 Sam. 24:13: “Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked”.

Hearts and reins (kidneys) = respectively, the minds (seat of intellect: Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Psa. 51:10; Jer. 3:17; etc.) and the inward parts (seat of emotions: Jer. 17:10; 20:12). Both these are in contrast to the outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7).
Defence is shield or buckler (AV mg.). See 5:12, note.
God is angry with the wicked....if he turn not! The last phrase of v. 11 and the first of v. 12 belong together.
Made it ready is, literally, “set it upright”, or “fixed it”. The resemblance to Deut. 32:41,42 is striking.
Persecutors is from a root signifying fiery or fierce. So the passage might read: “He makes His arrows fiery ones” or “He directs His arrows against fiery ones” — upon which Paul makes an ironic twist in Eph. 6:16 (“the fiery darts of the wicked”).
Travaileth with iniquity....conceived mischief....brought forth falsehood. The language of child-bearing in connection with lust and sin is echoed by James’ striking passage in 1:13-15. So wicked men bring forth “children” after their own “likeness” (Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:29-31; 1 Cor. 6:9,10), and are thus known by their “fruits” (Matt. 7:16,20). The melancholy litany of birth, procreation, and death in Genesis 5 is the result of Adam’s “likeness” being distorted in his descendants into the likeness of the serpent.
He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. The mental picture is of a malevolent and secretive adversary working furiously to excavate a deep hole for the righteous servant of the Lord to fall into. Instead, what happens is that the enormous mound of earth which he has thrown up slides back on top of him. Thus he digs his own grave, and buries himself! In addition, of course, to Saul, compare also Haman, hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai (Est. 7:10; there is some evidence that Psa. 7 was traditionally sung at Purim). Judas, who plotted the arrest of his Master, found in the end his own suicide (Matt. 27:3-10; Acts 1:15-20). Also, see Num. 32:23; Psa. 9:15; Prov. 26:27.
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