We’re continuing with Tudor’s notes today as we look at Psalm 7.
While no setting is given for the seventh psalm, there are some indications that it was based upon David’s time fleeing from Saul. The psalm concerns David being pursued by a large number of people (v1,5) on the basis of accusations against him (v3,4) by Cush, a Benjamite (of the same tribe as Saul). The accusations may have been that David had conspired against Saul, although there is no way to be sure. Either way, as a result of the lie David had been forced to flee and was now being pursued.
As with the previous psalms, David turns to God and makes his appeal to Him. He doesn’t take revenge or act in anger, but seeks God’s help, both for safety and for justice. David recognised that God was the God ‘Most High’ (v8,10,17), who knew the truth, ‘who searches minds and hearts’, and would ‘bring to an end the violence of the wicked’ (v9). As we have seen in the previous psalms, David knew that God is not indifferent to sin, but that He hates sin. And David knew that ultimate authority didn’t lie in those who attacked him, but in God. He showed that God ‘saves the upright in heart’ and that ‘God is a righteous judge’. (v10,11).
However, before criticising David’s accuser it is perhaps worth considering ourselves. Do we tell lies and use our words to damage others? Do we gossip and criticise – even if in truth – not for the benefit of others but out of selfish ambition or self-righteousness? In describing sin, including these sins, David talks of its consequences. The picture used is of being ‘pregnant with evil’ (v14). The idea is that sin gives birth to death – spiritual death and eventually spiritual death. David shows that sin has consequences, even though God is willing to forgive, writing that ‘He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.’ Even if our lives might be summarised as godly ones, any sin still does damage to ourselves and others. Our sin damages our relationship with God, slows us in our spiritual maturity and stops us from as effectively living for God. Thank God that, as we have seen, he is merciful, restores us, and still uses us in spite of difficulties which we may have created.
However, the central issues here is that David had been sinned against. Most importantly, David committed justice into God’s hands, and didn’t seek revenge. And as he entrusted justice to God he reminded himself that God will do what is just ‘if he does not relent’ (v12). He writes ‘Awake my God; decree justice’ (v6). As Paul writes in Romans:
‘Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’
However, it is worth remembering that as God promises justice, that justice will fall on the head of one of two people. Either it will mean punishment for the offender, or it will mean punishment paid for by Jesus through his crucifixion. Knowing that we are sinners, in total need of God’s mercy, we should pray for help to follow Jesus command to ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Mt 5:44). This is not to diminish from divine justice, but rather we can have complete assurance that God will do what is just, and so we can entrust justice to Him. And with that we can join with David in the final verse to praise God:
‘I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and I will sing to the name of the LORD Most High.’ (v17).