Psalms 7

PSALM VII

The psalmist prays against the malice of his enemies, 1, 2;

protests his own innocence, 3-5;

prays to God that he would vindicate him, for the edification

of his people, 6-8;

prays against the wickedness of his enemies, 9;

expresses strong confidence in God, 10;

threatens transgressors with God's judgments, 11-13;

shows the conduct and end of the ungodly, 14-16;

and exults in the mercy and lovingkindness of his Maker, 17.

This Psalm is entitled, Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto

the Lord, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite. The word

shiggayon comes from shagah, to wander, a

wandering song; i.e., a Psalm composed by David in his wanderings,

when he was obliged to hide himself from the fury of Saul.

Bishop Horsley thinks it may have its name, a wandering ode,

from its being in different parts, taking up different subjects,

in different styles of composition. But he has sometimes thought

that shiggaion might be an unpremeditated song; an improviso.

As to Cush the Benjamite, he is a person unknown in the Jewish

history; the name is probably a name of disguise; and by it he may

covertly mean Saul himself, the son of Kish, who was of the tribe

of Benjamin. The subject of the Psalm will better answer to Saul's

unjust persecution and David's innocence, than to any other

subject in the history of David.

Verse 1. O Lord my God] Yehovah Elohai, words

expressive of the strongest confidence the soul can have in the

Supreme Being. Thou self-existent, incomprehensible, almighty, and

eternal Being, who neither needest nor hatest any thing that thou

hast made; thou art my God: God in covenant with thy creature man;

and my God and portion particularly. Therefore, in thee do I put

my trust-I repose all my confidence in thee, and expect all my

good from thee.

Save me] Shield me from my persecutors; abate their pride,

assuage their malice, and confound their devices!

Deliver me] From the counsels which they have devised, and from

the snares and gins they have laid in my path.

Verse 2. Lest he tear my soul like a lion] These words seem to

answer well to Saul. As the lion is king in the forest; so was

Saul king over the land. As the lion, in his fierceness, seizes

at once, and tears his prey in pieces; so David expected to be

seized and suddenly destroyed by Saul. He had already, in his

rage, thrown his javelin at him, intending to have pierced him to

the wall with it. As from the power of the lion no beast in the

forest could deliver any thing; so David knew that Saul's power

was irresistible, and that none of his friends or well-wishers

could save or deliver him out of such hands. "Lest he tear my soul

(my life) like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none

to deliver." All this answers to Saul, and to none else.

Verse 3. If I have done this] David was accused by Saul of

affecting the kingdom; and of waiting for an opportunity to take

away the life of his king, his patron, and his friend. In his

application to God he refers to these charges; meets them with

indignation; and clears himself of them by a strong appeal to his

Judge; and an imprecation that, if he had meditated or designed

any such thing, he might meet with nothing but curse and calamity

either from God or man.

Verse 4. Yea, I have delivered him] When, in the course of thy

providence, thou didst put his life in my hand in the cave, I

contented myself with cutting off his skirt, merely to show him

the danger he had been in, and the spirit of the man whom he

accused of designs against his life; and yet even for this my

heart smote me, because it appeared to be an indignity offered to

him who was the Lord's anointed. This fact, and my venturing my

life frequently for his good and the safety of the state,

sufficiently show the falsity of such accusations, and the

innocence of my life.

Verse 5. Let the enemy persecute my soul] If I have been guilty

of the things laid to my charge, let the worst evils fall upon me.

Verse 6. Arise, O Lord, in thine anger] To thee I commit my

cause; arise, and sit on the throne of thy judgment in my behalf.

Verse 7. For their sakes therefore return thou on high.] Thy own

people who compass thy altar, the faithful of the land, are full

of gloomy apprehensions. They hear the charges against me; and see

how I am persecuted. Their minds are divided; they know not what

to think. For their sakes, return thou on high-ascend the

judgment-seat; and let them see, by the dispensations of thy

providence, who is innocent and who is guilty. David feared not

to make this appeal to God; for the consciousness of his innocence

showed him at once how the discrimination would be made.

Verse 8. The Lord shall judge the people] He will execute

justice and maintain truth among them. They shall not be as sheep

without a shepherd.

Judge me, O Lord] Let my innocence be brought to the light, and

my just dealing made clear as the noonday.

Verse 9. The wickedness of the wicked] The iniquity of Saul's

conduct.

But establish the just] Show the people my uprightness.

Verse 10. My defence is of God] I now leave my cause in the

hands of my Judge. I have no uneasy or fearful apprehensions,

because I know God will save the upright in heart.

Verse 11. God is angry with the wicked every day.] The Hebrew

for this sentence is the following: veel zoem

becol yom; which, according to the points, is, And God is angry

every day. Our translation seems to have been borrowed from the

Chaldee, where the whole verse is as follows:

elaha daiyana zaccaah

ubithkoph rageiz al reshiey col yoma: "God is a righteous Judge;

and in strength he is angry against the wicked every day."

The VULGATE: Deus Judex justus, fortis, et patiens; numquid

irascitur per sinpulos dies? "God is a Judge righteous, strong,

and patient; will he be angry every day?"

The SEPTUAGINT: οθεοςκριτηςδικαιοςκαιισχυροςκαι

μακροθυμοςμηοργηνεπαγωνκαθεκαστηνημεραν; "God is a

righteous Judge, strong and longsuffering; not bringing forth his

anger every day."

SYRIAC: "God is the Judge of righteousness; he is not angry

every day."

The ARABIC is the same as the Septuagint.

The AETHIOPIC: "God is a just Judge, and strong and

longsuffering; he will not bring forth tribulation daily."

COVERDALE: God is a righteous judge, and Gob is ever

threateninge.

KING EDWARD'S Bible by Becke 1549, follows this reading.

CARDMARDEN: God is a righteous judge, [strong and patient] and

God is provoked every day. Cardmarden has borrowed strong and

patient from the Vulgate or Septuagint, but as he found nothing

in the Hebrew to express them, he put the words in a smaller

letter, and included them in brackets. This is followed by the

prose version in our Prayer Book.

The GENEVAN version, printed by Barker, the king's printer,

1615, translates thus: "God judgeth the righteous, and him that

contemneth God every day." On which there is this marginal note:

"He doth continually call the wicked to repentance, by some signs

of his judgments."

My ancient Scotico-English MS. Psalter only begins with the

conclusion of this Psalm.

I have judged it of consequence to trace this verse through all

the ancient versions in order to be able to ascertain what is the

true reading, where the evidence on one side amounts to a

positive affirmation, "God IS angry every day;" and, on the other

side, to as positive a negation, "He is NOT angry every day." The

mass of evidence supports the latter reading. The Chaldee first

corrupted the text by making the addition, with the wicked, which

our translators have followed, though they have put the words into

italics, as not being in the Hebrew text. In the MSS. collated by

Kennicott and De Rossi there is no various reading on this text.

The true sense may be restored thus:-

el, with the vowel point tsere, signifies GOD: al,

the same letters, with the point pathach, signifies not. Several

of the versions have read it in this way: "God judgeth the

righteous, and is NOT angry every day." He is not always chiding,

nor is he daily punishing, notwithstanding the continual

wickedness of men: hence, the ideas of patience and longsuffering

which several of the versions introduce. Were I to take any of the

translations in preference to the above, I should feel most

inclined to adopt that of Coverdale.

Verse 12. If he turn not] This clause the Syriac adds to the

preceding verse. Most of the versions read, "If ye return not."

Some contend, and not without a great show of probability, that

the two verses should be read in connection, thus: "God is a just

Judge; a God who is provoked every day. If (the sinner) turn not,

he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready."

This, no doubt, gives the sense of both.

Verse 13. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of

death] This appears to be all a prophecy of the tragical death

of Saul. He was wounded by the arrows of the Philistines; and

his own keen sword, on which he fell, terminated his woful days!

Verse 14. He travaileth with iniquity] All these terms show the

pitch of envy, wrath, and malevolence, to which Saul had carried

his opposition against David. He conceived mischief; he travailed

with iniquity; he brought forth falsehood-all his expectations

were blasted.

Verse 15. He made a pit] He determined the destruction of David.

He laid his plans with much artifice; he executed them with zeal

and diligence; and when he had, as he supposed, the grave of David

digged, he fell into it himself! The metaphor is taken from pits

dug in the earth, and slightly covered over with reeds, &c., so as

not to be discerned from the solid ground; but the animal steps on

them, the surface breaks, and he falls into the pit and is taken.

"All the world agrees to acknowledge the equity of that sentence,

which inflicts upon the guilty the punishment intended by them for

the innocent."-Horne.

Verse 16. Shall come down upon his own pate.] Upon his scalp,

kodkod, the top of the head. It may refer to knocking the

criminal on the head, in order to deprive him of life. Had

scalping been known in those days, I should have thought the

reference might be to that barbarous custom.

Verse 17. I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness]

I shall celebrate both his justice and his mercy. I will sing

praise to the name of the Lord Most High. The name of God is often

put for his perfections. So here, shem Yehovah Elyon;

"The perfections of Jehovah, who is above all." My old

Scotico-English MS., mentioned at the conclusion of the

introduction, begins at this verse, where are the following

words by way of paraphrase: Sang falles til ioy; and he that

synges well that name, his ioy es mare than i kan tell. Those who

are happy may sing; and he who can duly celebrate the name of God,

who knows it to be a strong tower into which he can run and find

safety, has inexpressible happiness. That is the sense of the

above.

ANALYSIS OF THE SEVENTH PSALM

I. His appeal to God by way of petition, Ps 7:1, 2, 6.

II. The reasons of this appeal,-set down through the whole

Psalm.

III. His doxology or thanksgiving, Ps 7:17.

I. He begins his appeal with a petition for deliverance from his

persecutors: "Save me and deliver me," Ps 7:1. In which he

desires God to be,

1. Attentive to him: 1. Because of the relation between them.

For he was the Lord his God. 2. He trusted in him: "O Lord my God,

I trust in thee," Ps 7:1.

2. Benevolent to him. For he was now in danger of death. He had,

1. Enemies. 2. Many enemies. 3. Persecuting enemies. 4. But one

above the rest, a lion ready to rend him in pieces; so that if God

forsook him, he would do it. "Save me from those that persecute

me," &c., Ps 7:2.

II. And then he gives his reasons why he doth appeal to his God,

which are: 1. His own innocence. 2. God's justice.

1. He makes a protestation of his innocence. He was accused that

he lay in wait, and plotted for Saul's life and kingdom; but he

clears himself, shows the impossibility of it, and that with a

fearful imprecation. 1. O Lord-if I have done any such thing as

they object; if I have rewarded evil to him that was at peace with

me, Ps 7:3, 4, which was indeed an impossible matter.

For I have delivered him-as Saul in the cave, 1Sa 24:2. His

imprecation-Then let mine enemy persecute me-let him take both my

life and my honour, kingdom, property, and whatever thou hast

promised me.

2. And, which is the second reason of this appeal, being

innocent, he calls for justice. "Arise, O Lord-lift up

thyself-awake for me to judgment." For, 1. The rage of my enemies

is great. 2. The judgment was thine that chose me to be king of

thy people. Awake for me. 3. This will be for thy honour, and the

edification of thy Church. "The congregation of thy people shall

compass thee about. For their sakes return thou on high." Ascend

the tribunal, and do justice.

Now, upon this argument of God's justice, he dwells and insists

to the last verse of the Psalm.

1. He avows God to be his Judge.

2. He prays for justice to be done to him and to the wicked. 1.

To him, an innocent person: "Judge me, O Lord, according to my

righteousness." 2. To the wicked: "O let the wickedness of the

wicked come to an end!"

3. He prays not only for himself, but for all good men:

"Establish the just." And adds this reason, that as "God trieth

the hearts and reins," he is fittest to be judge, in whom is

required knowledge and prudence.

4. The other two properties of a judge are, to save, and to

punish; and the triumph of his faith is, that he knows He will

do both. 1. He will save the just and upright in heart, and

therefore his defence is in God. 2. He will punish the wicked, for

he is angry with them every day; and yet even to them he shows

much clemency and forbearance. He waits for their conversion. He

whets, binds on, and sharpens his instruments of death; but he

shoots not till there is no remedy. But, If they will not return

he will whet his sword, &c.

5. But the Lord's longsuffering had no good effect upon Saul; he

grew worse and worse: He travailed with mischief; conceived

iniquity; brought forth falsehood; and digged a pit for his

innocent neighbour, into which he fell himself. Thus the righteous

God executed judgment and vindicated innocence.

III. The close of the Psalm is a doxology. Thanks that a good

and merciful God would judge for the righteous, save those who are

true of heart, establish the just, and take vengeance upon the

wicked. For this, saith David, "I will praise the Lord according

to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the

Lord the Most High."

The righteous may be oppressed, but they shall not be forsaken:

nor can they lose even by their afflictions, for they shall be

turned to their advantage. Every occurrence helps a good man,

whether prosperous or adverse; but to the wicked every thing is a

curse. By his wickedness, even his blessings are turned to a bane.

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