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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 7

Verse 1

O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:

Title. - Shiggaion - from a Hebrew root [ shaagah (H7686)], 'erred.' Referred by some to the erratic character of the character of the melody, betokening agitation. 'A song uttered in great excitement' (Ewald). Hengstenberg refers it to the subject of the psalm: 'the aberrations of the wicked.' Compare Habakkuk 3:1. It accords with this that the Hebrew root of Shiggaion, as above, occurs in Saul's address to David, 1 Samuel 26:21, "Behold, I have played the fool, and erred exceedingly" (cf. Psalms 119:21; Psalms 119:118).

Of David. Compare Psalms 7:4, which alludes to David's being accused by Saul of plotting "evil" against him, whereas he returned good for evil in sparing Saul, his deadly enemy, when he had him in his power (1 Samuel 24:7). Many expressions here coincide with those of David in the history (cf. Psalms 7:1 with 1 Samuel 24:14; 1 Samuel 26:20; Psalms 7:3 with 1 Samuel 24:11, "There is neither evil ... in mine hand;" Psalms 7:8 with 1 Samuel 24:12; 1 Samuel 24:15, "The Lord judge between me and thee," etc.; Psalms 7:16 with 1 Samuel 25:39, "The Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head").

Concerning the words - i:e., on account of the calumnies of, etc. (Hengstenberg). [So Septuagint, huper toon logoon Chousi.] That by "words" he means calumnies, appears from Psalms 7:3-5, wherein he defends himself against them. That there were men who calumniated David to Saul, in order to ingratiate themselves with the latter, appears from 1 Samuel 24:9; 1 Samuel 26:19. Saul himself, a Benjamite, is meant by the enigmatic term, "Cush the Benjamite." "Cush," or 'the Ethiopian,' is symbolical for one black at heart, and unchangeably so as to malice (cf. Jeremiah 13:23; also Amos 9:7). David's predilection for enigmatical titles appears in Psalms 9:1-20; Psalms 22:1-31; Psalms 53:1-6, etc. An allusion, too, seems to be hid in "Cush" to the name of Saul's father, "Kish." As David in this psalm appears still exposed to Saul's persecutions; whereas immediately after the second time of Saul's being in power (1 Samuel 26:1-25.) David passed over to the Philistines, and was no more sought after by Saul (1 Samuel 27:4). The occasion of his sparing Saul, alluded to in Psalms 7:4 must be the first one, (1 Samuel 24:1-22.)

Psalms 7:1-17.-David's prayer for deliverance from enemies (Psalms 7:1-2); his innocency toward them (Psalms 7:3-5); God's righteousness his plea (Psalms 7:6-9); his confidence resting on this (Psalms 7:10-13); the foe's malice shall recoil on himself, whereas David shall praise the Lord for His righteousness (Psalms 7:14-17).

My God - a strong argument for being heard lies in the word "MY." Luther remarks that much of the force of the Psalms lies in the pronouns. To appropriate God as our God, and "my God," ensures His help.

All them that persecute me. The greatness of his danger through many persecutors is his plea that God should interpose in his behalf.

Verse 2

Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

Lest he tear my soul. He singles out one among his many persecutors (Psalms 7:1) as prominent: evidently the same one as is enigmatically described in the title "Cush," unchangeably black at heart, as the Ethiopian is unchangeably black in skin. "The Benjamite" evidently identifies him with Saul (1 Samuel 20:1; 1 Samuel 23:23; 1 Samuel 26:18-19). The singular may be an ideal personification of the many enemies of whom Saul was the foremost. So the antitype, the last enemy of the son of David, shall "tear, like a lion, rending the sheep." Compare Zechariah 11:15-16, "I will raise up a shepherd (a lion or wolf in sheep's clothing) which shall ... eat the flesh of the fat, and tear ... in pieces."

Verse 3

O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;

If I have done this - namely, that which my calumniators lay to my charge (Psalms 7:4; cf. 1 Samuel 24:9), "David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou, men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?"

If there be iniquity in my hands. The "hands" are often the instruments of sin (Psalms 24:4). There is an undesigned coincidence (the strongest proof of the genuineness of both) between the language of David here, and that attributed to him in the history in addressing Saul (1 Samuel 24:10-11), "The Lord delivered thee today into mine hand, but ... I said I will not put forth mine hand against my lord, because he is the Lord's anointed. Moreover, ... see the skirt of thy robe in mine hand, for in that I ... killed thee not, know ... there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand," and 26:18. The root meaning of the Hebrew iniquity [ `aawel (H5766)] is distortion, perverseness.

Verse 4

If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)

If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me. If, as my calumniators assert, I have ungratefully returned evil Saul, who was my friend (so "at peace with me" means in Hebrew idiom, Job 22:21; Psalms 41:9, margin, 'the man of my peace').

(Yea, I have delivered [ waa'ªchaltsaah (H2502 ] him that without cause was mine enemy)] - rather, as Hebrew, 'spoil,' stripped from a slain enemy (Judges 14:19; 2 Samuel 2:21, margin), 'spoiled.' Chaldaic translates, 'I have afflicted;' Syriac, 'oppressed.' "Yea," I go further, "If I have even spoiled him that without cause is mine enemy." Not only did I not turn ungratefully against him in the days of our friendship; but when without cause he became mine enemy, I spared him, and not even spoiled him; the skirt cut off from him while sleeping, proves that he was in my power (1 Samuel 24:4-17). The Septuagint, Vulgate, Syria, insted of "rewarded evil to him that was at peace with me," translate, 'If I have retaliated (evil) to him that has rendered evil to me;' so the Hebrew [ showlªmiy (H7999)] means, Psalms 35:12. But the Hebrew [ gaamaltiy (H1580)] is used rather in a good sense, not in the sense 'retaliate evil;' and the rising climax in the English version, as explained above, is more forcible than making the first clause exactly parallel to the second.

Verse 5

Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.

A consequence which he prays may follow IF he has done what his foes allege (Psalms 7:3-4).

My soul - parallel to 'my life,' my truest self, my inner being, and noblest part.

Upon the earth ... in the dust. The Hebrew preposition lª- implies belonging to. "Let him tread down my life (so that it shall belong henceforth) to the earth, and lay mine honour (rather, yashkeen, make mine honour to dwell in the dust, so that it can never rise again.

Mine honour - in contrast to "the dust." "My honour" is not merely "my good name;" but as being parallel to "my soul," it means my noblest part; the glory of man above the brutes that perish, with whom he is only connected in his bodily part-the inner spirit, the breath of God (Genesis 2:7) whereby "man became a living soul" (cf. Psalms 7:2). So Genesis 49:6, where "mine honour" is parallel and equivalent to "O my soul." Compare Psalms 16:9; Psalms 57:8; Psalms 108:1. The enemy, Satan, through, his agent Saul, seeks to destroy David's "soul" (Psalms 7:2). David is content, if he be tainted with the guilt imputed to him that his soul shall "dwell in the dust."

Verse 6

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.

But as I am innocent of the charges alleged (Psalms 7:3-5), I may justly appeal to thy righteousness to vindicate me.

Lift up thyself - from the attitude of stillness; image of a giant lifting up his mighty frame to strike the enemy, whom he had heretofore suffered to remain unnoticed (Psalms 50:3; Psalms 50:21; Psalms 78:65; Isaiah 33:10).

Because of the rage. As the same Hebrew [bª-] is translated "IN" in the first clause, it must be rendered similarly here, "with the rage (habroth-literally, the over-passings, like floods passing over the river banks, Isaiah 8:7-8) of mine enemies." As they lift themselves up in rage, so, O Yahweh, do thou lift thyself up, in corresponding rage.

Awake for me - literally, 'toward me;' in relation to me.

(To) the judgment (that) thou hast commanded. David grounds his prayer on God's being, the righteous Judge of the world (cf. Psalms 7:8; Psalms 7:11). God has ordained judgment, as the necessary vindication of his righteousness. The final judgment will be its fullest manifestation (Psalms 7:8). Even in the meantime He often gives earnests of that last vindication of His righteousness, by punishing the ungodly and rewarding the righteous openly in this world.

Verse 7

So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.

So shall the congregation of the people (Hebrew, tribes) compass thee about. In the East the king, in pronouncing judgment, sits surrounded by the peoples interested in the decision. Here "the peoples" congregated, in the ultimate design of the Spirit, include both Israel (peculiarly called the "tribes") and the Gentile nations (Hebrew, Goyim); which shall constitute "the gathering of the peoples" to the "Shiloh" at His second coming (Genesis 49:10; Psalms 2:6-8). The anti-Christian enemies shall then be judically punished, Israel shall be once more Yahweh's own people, and the nations shall be converted to Christ reigning in Zion (Isa. 2:24; Psalms 50:1-5; Psalms 102:13-16). Israel shall then occupy the place originally designed for her, but never yet realized, as center of the nations, religiously (Deuteronomy 32:8; Deuteronomy 33:19).

For their sakes. Translate, 'for its (the congregation's) sake.'

Return thou on high. In order that the congregation of the people may compass thee about, return thou on high [or to the high place, lamaarowm (H4791)]'. The high place is "height of Zion" (Jeremiah 31:10-12), "the mountain of the height of Israel" (Esek. 20:40). It hardly means 'God's lofty dwelling in heaven.' Metaphorically it they mean, Reassume they throne of judgment, which thy long-suffering toward the wicked heretofore may seem to show thou hast abdicated. Judge between me and Saul (2 Samuel 24:12; 2 Samuel 24:15). But the literal meaning also holds good, and accords with the general voice of prophecy. God cannot be said to have left His throne in heaven, though He has, forsaken temporarily "the place of His throne" at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:7; Jeremiah 3:17; Psalms 68:16); it is this to which he will return in greater glory than ever; His return shall be accompanied with judgment on the Christ-opposed enemy, of whom David's foes, about to be judged by God, were the type. The adjudication of the throne finally to David, and the rejection of Saul, which was the result of Yahweh's return to the high seat of judicature, is the type of Christ-Yahweh's resumption of the throne of the Israelite theocracy, whence He shall reign over the whole earth, and of the final rejection of the world-kings, who have abused the trust delegated by Him,' having reigned for self and against Him, instead of as under Him and, for His glory.

Verse 8

The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

The people - Hebrew, 'peoples' [ `amiym (H5971): different from `am (H5971) in Psalms 7:7, "tribes"]. The lª'umiym (H3816) are primarily the peoples sprung from the same mother (amam); the hamiym are those collected from various, nations.

Judge me. 'give sentence concerning me' [ shaapªTeeniy (H8199)]: a distinct word from "The Lord shall judge," etc. [ yaadiyn (H1777)]

According to his righteousness. Not absolutely, for his cry is, Psalms 143:2, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." Compare Psalms 130:3-4; but in respect to the charge laid against him by Saul, as though he plotted Saul's hurt. Without this desire not to "regard iniquity in the heart (Psalms 66:18), "the Lord will not hear" the cry for mercy.

Verse 9

Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

Oh let the wickedness ... come to an end. This prayer is granted in the prophetical view of the Psalmist (Psalms 10:6), "O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end."

The wicked ... the just - represented respectively by Saul and David. It was not a mere contest between them as individuals, but between the universal and everlasting principles of wickedness and righteousness. In Saul's overthrow by God's judicial interposition and David's elevation, un-godliness would receive a deadly blow, and righteousness a material vindication. There may be an allusion designed by the Spirit to David's anti-type, "the just one," Messiah; because the Hebrew is singular, not plural.

For the righteous God trieth the hearts - which ensures thy putting an end to the wicked and establishing For the righteous God trieth the hearts - which ensures thy putting an end to the wicked and establishing the just (Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12).

Reins - literally, the kidneys, the most hidden part of the body, often affected by the working of the mind.

Verse 10

My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.

Defence - Hebrew 'buckler' (cf. note, Psalms 5:12).

Is of God - literally, 'upon God.' Upon Him it rests to hold Him buckler over me.

Verse 11

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked - the two-fold ground of David's confidence; because in the present case he is "the righteous," and his enemies are "the wicked."

Every day. 'The divine judgment upon ungodliness is one always realizing itself in the course of history, so that the ungodly can never be secure, but are continually in danger of a sudden overthrow (Hengstenberg). There is never a moment when God is not ready to punish the guilty. Long-suffering mercy alone, if haply the sinner will repent, stayeth the blow for a time.

Verse 12

If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.

If he turn not. There is this merciful proviso always made, that judgment will descend only if the sinner will "not turn" from his evil way. David, in denouncing judgment on the ungodly, is always to be regarded as wishing that they would rather turn, and so avert the judgments.

He will whet his sword - God will whet it. A plain allusion to Deuteronomy 32:41. So entirely are the Psalms based on the Pentateuch-law. Bow ... ready - with the arrows upon it, the aim having been already taken. It is striking that the very instruments of Saul's death, the bow and the sword, are here mentioned. Hit and sore wounded by the Philistine archers, "Saul took a sword and fell upon it" (1 Samuel 31:3-4).

Verse 13

He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.

Ordaineth-`maketh.' against the persecutors. Gesenius translates, 'He maketh his arrows burning,' like the fiery darts hurled against wooden towers, in order to set them on fire. The Hebrew, lªdolªqiym (H1814). may be rendered either 'for burning' - i:e., so as to be burning. Better, as the English version, 'against the burning' - i:e., the fiery persecutors. As fire-darts were more used in the case of besieged towns, they seem less appropriate here.

Verse 14

Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

He traveleth ... and hath conceived mischief ... falsehood. Describing the sinner's laborious course of evil, from its first conception to its maturity, under the image of a woman in labour-pangs (cf. James 1:14-15). His toilsome plotting of mischief shall not be without effect, but the effect shall be against himself. His evil shall all recoil on himself (Psalms 7:15-16). Hengstenberg makes this result to himself begin in this 5:, and translates, 'He is big with misery (hamal), and bringeth forth falsehood - i:e., the falsifying of his expectation, and reversal of his plot.

Verse 15

He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

A pit - such as is prepared with branches and foliage over it, to entrap wild beasts in. How striking the righteous retribution in kind dealt by God to Saul! He had plot against David (1 Samuel 18:17), "Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him." But David was actually saved by the Philistines, and Saul was slain by the Philistines (1 Samuel 27:1-3; 1 Samuel 31:2.

Digged it - `hollowed it out,' marking the malicious care of the wicked plotter to make it as deep as possible, to entrap and kill the godly.

Verse 16

His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

His mischief - the mischief which be devised against me, but which justly belongs to himself, and falls on him.

Shall return upon his own head - like a stone falling on him who threw it up, or an arrow recoiling and hitting him who shot it.

Verse 17

I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness - according to what His righteous nature demands, so signally exhibited in making the evil plotters mischief fall on his own head (Psalms 7:14-16), and in saving the righteous (Psalms 7:1).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.