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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 7

Psalms 7:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Lord Implored to Defend the Psalmist Against the Wicked MT Intro “A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite” Prayer and Praise for Deliverance From EnemiesPrayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies(A Lament)A Prayer for Justice Prayer of the Upright in Persecution
Psalms 7:1-2 Psalms 7:1-2 Psalms 7:1-2 Psalms 7:1-2 Psalms 7:1-5
Psalms 7:3-5 Psalms 7:3-5 Psalms 7:3-5 Psalms 7:3-5
Psalms 7:6-11 Psalms 7:6-8 Psalms 7:6-8 Psalms 7:6-9 Psalms 7:6-8a
Psalms 7:8-9
Psalms 7:9-10 Psalms 7:9-11
Psalms 7:10-13 Psalms 7:10-12a
Psalms 7:11-13
Psalms 7:12-16 Psalms 7:12-16
Psalms 7:12-14
Psalms 7:14-16 Psalms 7:14-16
Psalms 7:15-16
Psalms 7:17 Psalms 7:17 Psalms 7:17 Psalms 7:17 Psalms 7:17

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 7:1-2 1O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, 2Or he will tear my soul like a lion, Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

Psalms 7:1 “I have taken refuge” This verb (BDB 340, KB 337) is a Qal perfect, which denotes a complete or settled action. The psalmist had and continued to seek refuge (i.e., protection, care, provision) with YHWH.

The psalmist asks God to

1. save him BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative

2. deliver him BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative

because he has taken refuge in Him (BDB 340, KB 337, Qal perfect). This is a recurrent theme, cf. Psalms 2:12; Psalms 5:11; Psalms 7:1; Psalms 11:1; Psalms 16:1; Psalms 17:7; Psalms 18:2, Psalms 18:30; Psalms 25:20; Psalms 31:1, Psalms 31:19; Psalms 34:8, Psalms 34:22; Psalms 36:7; Psalms 37:40; Psalms 57:1; Psalms 61:4; Psalms 64:10; Psalms 71:1; Psalms 118:8, Psalms 118:9; Psalms 141:8; Psalms 144:2. YHWH is the only true place of protection and rest!

SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (OT)

Psalms 7:2 In Psalms 7:1 the psalmist's antagonists are called “those who pursue me.” In Psalms 7:2 they are described as a carnivorous animal (cf. Psalms 57:4).

1. tear BDB 382, KB 380, Qal imperfect, cf. Psalms 17:12

2. drag away BDB 830, KB 973, Qal participle

3. none can deliver this is in contrast to Psalms 7:1, where the psalmist pleads for YHWH to deliver. No one but God can!

The psalmist is either using striking metaphors or is afraid of a violent physical attack by his enemies.

SPECIAL TOPIC: LIONS IN THE OT

Verses 3-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 7:3-5 3O Lord my God, if I have done this, If there is injustice in my hands, 4If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, 5Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; And let him trample my life down to the ground And lay my glory in the dust. Selah.

Psalms 7:3-5 The psalmist sets up hypothetical parallel situations.

1. if I have done this (but “this” is not specified)

2. if there is injustice in my hands (i.e., actions, see SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND below)

3. if I have rewarded evil to my friend (this may be a well known proverb, cf. Proverbs 20:22; Proverbs 24:29; Romans 12:17)

4. if I have plundered my friend without cause

If any of these things are true, then

1. let my enemy pursue me BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. let my enemy overtake me BDB 673, KB 727, Hiphil jussive

3. let my enemy trample my life BDB 942, KB 1245, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. I will lay my glory in the dust BDB 1014, KB 1496, Hiphil jussive (“glory” in the sense of one's life essence, cf. Psalms 16:9; Psalms 30:12; Psalms 57:8; Psalms 108:1)

This is a poetic way of claiming innocence!

SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND (ILLUSTRATED FROM EZEKIEL)

Psalms 7:5 “Selah” See note at Psalms 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII.

Verses 6-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 7:6-11 6Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment. 7Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You, And over them return on high. 8The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. 9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. 10My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart. 11God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day.

Psalms 7:6-11 The psalmist calls on YHWH to act on his behalf.

1. arise BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative (see note at Psalms 3:7). This verb can mean

a. stand up and act on our behalf Judge/Warrior

b. wake up in the sense of “pay attention and act” (cf. Psalms 44:23)

2. lift up Yourself BDB 669, KB 724, Niphal imperative

3. arouse Yourself BDB 734, KB 802, Qal imperative, cf. Psalms 35:23; Psalms 44:23; Psalms 59:4

4. return BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative (or understood as “dwell,” BDB 442, cf. Psalms 23:6)

5. vindicate me BDB 1047, KB 1622, Qal imperative, cf. Psalms 26:1; Psalms 35:24; Psalms 43:1

YHWH is called on to allow His anger against sin to manifest itself in judgment. This thought is summarized in Psalms 7:7. The Hebrew is difficult.

JPSOA“let the assembly of peoples gather about You, with You enthroned on high” NJB“let the assembly of nations gather around You; return above it on high”

The question is “How does 'the peoples' fit in this context of justice for an individual?” Does this psalm seek justice against

1. personal enemies (Psalms 7:6, Psalms 7:8)

2. the pagan nations (Obad. v. Psalms 7:5)

The fact that Psalms 7:8 begins with “The Lord judges the peoples” gives credence to option #2, but it is surprising in this context.

Psalms 7:8 “according to my righteousness” This phrase must be interpreted in light of Psalms 7:3-5. The psalmist is not claiming sinlessness but that he had not done what he was accused of doing!

Notice Psalms 7:9, Psalms 7:17, where YHWH's righteousness is affirmed. The psalmist is longing for the day when God will set all things straight, reveal the true motives and actions of all humans. The Bible is clear that this physical universe was created and maintained by a moral/ethical God. Each human made in His image will give an account to Him of the gift/stewardship of life (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:11-15)!

“integrity” This term (BDB 1070) means “innocence,” “blamelessness” (cf. Psalms 25:21; Psalms 26:1, Psalms 26:11; Psalms 41:12; Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 10:9; Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 20:7; Proverbs 28:6). It is not a claim to sinlessness but a claim to a pure mind/motive/heart (cf. Psalms 7:10b). See Special Topic: BLAMELESS, INNOCENT, GUILTLESS, WITHOUT REPROACH.

Psalms 7:9 “the evil of the wicked” Does this refer to those who accuse the psalmist in Psalms 7:3-5 or all the peoples/nations (cf. Psalms 2:0)?

The psalmist calls on God to end evil (BDB 170, KB 197, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) and establish (BDB 465, KB 464, Polel imperfect) righteousness (see Special Topic: Righteousness).

“for the righteous, God tries the heart and minds” This is a recurrent theme (cf. Psalms 11:4-5; Psalms 17:3; Psalms 26:2; Psalms 66:10; Psalms 139:23; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12). God knows the motives of the heart (BDB 480, lit. kidneys; the lower viscera were seen as the seat of the emotions and moral character).

Psalms 7:10-11 For the faithful follower, YHWH is a shield (see note at Psalms 3:3-6), but for the faithless follower He is a “righteous judge” (cf. Psalms 96:13).

Psalms 7:11 “indignation” The verb (BDB 276, KB 277, Qal participle) is found only here in the Psalms. It is found several times in Proverbs (cf. Proverbs 22:14; Proverbs 24:24; Proverbs 25:23).

This verse describes YHWH's (both Elohim and El are used in this verse for Deity) continual reaction against sin. This is not the world He intended it/created it to be. Genesis 3:0 has had a terrible effect on

1. God (cf. Hosea 11:1-4, Hosea 11:8-9)

2. humans (cf. Romans 3:10-18, Romans 3:23)

3. physical creation (cf. Romans 8:18-23)

Sin affects time and eternity!

Verses 12-16

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 7:12-16 12If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. 13He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts. 14Behold, he travails with wickedness, And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood. 15He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, And has fallen into the hole which he made. 16His mischief will return upon his own head, And his violence will descend upon his own pate.

Psalms 7:12 “If a man does not repent” Notice the conditional covenant. Also notice that repentance, like faith, is life long! See the Special Topics below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSEVERANCE

Psalms 7:12-13 God's reactions to unrepentant people are (cf. Deuteronomy 32:34-43)

1. He will sharpen His sword (cf. Psalms 17:13)

2. He has bent His bow (cf. Zechariah 9:13)

3. He has prepared deadly weapons

4. He makes fiery arrows (cf. Psalms 38:2)

This terminology relates to warfare. This lends support to verse Psalms 7:7 addressing the nations, not just faithless Israelites.

Psalms 7:14-16 These verses, however, seem to relate to personal, not national, enemies.

1. he travails with wickedness (see note below)

2. he conceives mischief (cf. Job 15:35; Isaiah 59:4)

3. he brings forth falsehood

4. he digs a pit, Psalms 7:15a

(these seem to combine metaphors from birthing and hunting)

But notice the reversal (cf. Proverbs 26:27; Proverbs 28:10; Ecclesiastes 10:8).

1. he falls into his own pit, Psalms 7:15b; Psalms 57:6

2. his mischief will return on his own head, Psalms 7:16a,b

Psalms 7:14

NASB, NKJV“wickedness” NRSV, JPSOA“evil” NJB“malice” REB“iniquity”

There is no matching verb for this noun (BDB 19). There are no cognates to this root in the Semitic languages. It is found in poetic passages in the Psalms, Job, and Proverbs.

It may come from a root which denotes “power” or “an abuse of power” (NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 310). This is hated by YHWH (cf. Psalms 5:5; Psalms 11:5). It can denote inappropriate covenant conduct in

1. worship (cf. Isaiah 1:13; Zechariah 10:2)

2. politics (cf. Isaiah 31:2)

3. the courts (cf. Isaiah 10:1; Isaiah 29:20)

4. warfare (Psalms 56:7)

This term denotes a heart that has a settled disposition against God and His people.

Verse 17

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 7:17 17I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Psalms 7:17 “I will give thanks. . .will sing praise” These are both cohortatives (vows).

1. give thanks BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

2. sing praise BDB 274, KB 273, Piel cohortative

The NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 406, #3, suggests that “thank offerings” were accompanied by verbal expressions of thanksgiving (i.e., songs, cf. Psalms 107:22; Psalms 116:17; Jonah 2:9). Prayers of lament often involved thanksgiving and praise (cf. Psalms 35:18; Psalms 43:4; Psalms 54:6; Psalms 56:12; Psalms 57:9; Psalms 69:30; Psalms 71:22; Psalms 109:30; Psalms 140:13; Psalms 142:7).

“the name of the Lord” See Special Topic: The Name of YHWH.

“Most High” This Hebrew name, Elyon (BDB 751 II) is used often in the Psalms as a title for YHWH (cf. Genesis 14:19; Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalms 9:2; Psalms 18:13; Psalms 21:7; Psalms 46:4; Psalms 47:2, and many more.). It comes from the word “high” or “upper” (BDB 751 I). It is linked with YHWH in Psalms 47:2, where it is parallel with “a great King over all the earth.” In Psalms 7:2 and 92:1 the exact phrase that is in Psalms 7:17 is repeated.

This was the title of the high god in the Canaanite pantheon. It is possible that Israel took this name (as they did the names of the gods of Babylon and Persia) as a way of asserting that their God was the only true God! See SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the theological distinction between “YHWH” and “Elohim”?

2. What are the psalmist's enemies accusing him of in Psalms 7:3-4?

3. What does this statement, “God tries the hearts and minds,” mean?

4. Explain the difference between the Hebrew word “repent” and the Greek term “repent.”

5. Explain the literary concept of “reversal.” Why is it found so often in the Bible?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 7". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-7.html. 2021.