John T. Willis

Sunday, May 04, 2014

A Poet Beseeches Yahweh to Defend Him from His Enemies--Psalm 7

The superscription of Psalm 7 reads: "A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjaminite." Scholars conjecture over the meaning of Shiggaion, but the meaning is uncertain. The setting of the superscription is unknown. Most scholars agree that the superscriptions over almost all the psalms are later additions. One should pay careful attention to the psalm itself. The composer of Psalm 7 is clearly confronted by evil enemies. He prays fervently that Yahweh will deliver him from these enemies. Psalm 7 falls into FIVE parts, indicated by new addresses to Yahweh or change of emphasis.

I. The composer casts himself on Yahweh to defend him from his enemies. 7:1-2.
    a. The poet addresses Yahweh as "O Lord my God" in 7:1 and 7:3, then "O Lord" in 7:6, 8, then "O righteous God" in 7:9. Several other times, he refers to Yahweh in the third person. The poet declares that in Yahweh he takes REFUGE. Then he beseeches Yahweh to "save" and "deliver" him from his pursuers. 7:1.
    b. Then the poet persuasively tells Yahweh that if Yahweh does not save and deliver him, his enemies will tear him apart like a "lion" and drag him away with no rescue. What a vivid picture of the heinous attempts of the poet's enemies. See the same figure in Psalm 22:13. 7:2.

II. The composer propounds a self-imprecation if he has mistreated his enemies. 7:3-5.
     a. It is always possible that a person is responsible for conflict rather than his enemy. So, the poet in Psalm 7 want to make sure that his enemies are at fault, and not himself. So he openly declares, "IF I have done this, IF there is wrong in my hands, IF I have repaid my ally with harm or plundered my foe without cause"--THEN. Returning evil for good is a serious sin, and the psalmist does not want to be guilty of this at all. 7:3-4.
     b. The poet says IF I have committed such sins, THEN let my enemy pursue and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust. This is a powerful self-imprecation, indicating that the psalmist is very serious and feels that he is not guilty. 7:5.

III. The Poet beseeches Yahweh to appear and correctly JUDGE between the two groups in this court situation. 7:6-8.
      a. "Rise up, O Lord" is a very common appeal meaning "Swing into action," assuming that right now Yahweh is not responding. "Awake, O my God," is a similar call or summons. The psalmist's enemies are in FURY against the psalmist, so the psalmist beseeches Yahweh to rise up in his ANGER. He declare that Yahweh has appointed a judgment. It is totally up to Yahweh to assess and make the decision about this conflict. 7:6.
      b. The poet beseeches Yahweh to "assemble" the peoples and "take his seat on high" in heaven to give his judgmental decision. Yahweh alone "judges" the peoples. 7:7-8a.
      c. Then the psalmist turns to himself personally, beseeching Yahweh: "Judge ME according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me." The poet knows his heart, and he is sure that Yahweh knows his heart and life. 7:8b-c.

IV. The Poet sharply distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked. 7:9-11.
       a. First the poet beseeches Yahweh to let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, making a sharp distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Yahweh "tests" the minds and the hearts, he is a "righteous" God in making such distinctions. 7:9.
        b. Then the poet carefully describes Yahweh's nature: Yahweh is "my shield" or protection (see Psalm 3:3). He saves the upright in HEART. He is a "righteous" God, as he has already addressed him in the second person in 7:9. Yahweh has indignation every day. 7:10-11.

V. The Poet concludes by declaring that Yahweh will punish those who do not repent. 7:12-17.
     a. The poet now declares: "IF ONE DOES NOT REPENT," then: God will whet his sword; he has bent and strung his bow; he has prepared his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts," all prepared to punish the wicked. 7:12-13.
     b. Then the poet describes the wicked: they conceive evil, are pregnant with mischief, and bring forth lies. Here are three normal steps in sin: sin always begins in the heart, which is like a woman conceiving a child in the womb; then the woman become pregnant as sin grows; and finally sin gives birth in various types of external sins like adultery, drunkenness, murder, and the like. 7:14.
     c. Sinful people spiritually and in life make a pit, dig it out, and fall into the hold they have made. Their mischief returns on their own heads, and on they own heads violence descends. Sin is ironic. Whatever a person sows shall also reap, as Galatians 6:7 clearly teaches. History has shown consistently that when people sin against godly people, the sinners will reap what they intended to do against the righteous. 7:15-16.
     d. The psalmist concludes by bursting out in thanksgiving and praise because Yahweh is righteous and carries out righteous decisions and practices. The poet resolves to give thanks to Yahweh the thanksgiving due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of Yahweh, the Most High. "The name of Yahweh" is a circumlocution for Yahweh himself, not a proper name. 7:17.

Share YOUR insights and problems and reservations and ideas and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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