Before we begin to read Psalm 7, we are given some insight as to the nature of this psalm. In the superscription we read that this is a psalm of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite. David writes this psalm because of one particular person in his life who is giving him some great problems. Unfortunately, we know nothing about this man named Cush during the days of David. It would certainly have been nice if we could have gone to other scriptures to know the circumstances David is dealing with as he writes this. Much has been done in speculation concerning this matter, but that is all it is. We simply do not know anything about this man or the circumstances except that which is revealed here. We can begin by noticing that in the first two verses the things which Cush had done were not good toward David. David is not writing a psalm of praise for the kindness of Cush . Instead, we see David crying out for refuge, salvation, and deliverance from those who pursue him. So great is the oppression that David says that he will be ripped to pieces like a lion tears at prey if he is not rescued. In this lesson we are going to notice how David handled those who did evil against him. What are you to do when someone is declaring evil against you and is out to destroy you? What should be your plan of action? When evil stands against us, particularly in the form of someone who desires to do us harm, what shall we do? Thus we will consider the example of David, a man after God’s own heart.
The Steps of David
Trust God (7:1)
The first verse tells us that David takes his refuge in the Lord. It is very easy for us to pass over such a statement and not truly grasp the meaning of the Lord as a refuge. Under the old covenant, the need for refuge was very important in the law. Refuge had a rich meaning to the people of Israel . In Numbers 35 the Lord commanded that the people designate six cities as the cities of refuge. These cities were given to the Levites, since they were not allotted land in the conquest of Canaan . But the purpose of the cities of refuge is what is important. These six cities were refuge for those who accidentally killed someone, what we would call in our legal society manslaughter. An example would be that if a man were swinging an ax and the ax head flew off and killed another man, this would be manslaughter. To prevent his life from being avenged by the victim’s kinsmen, the man could flee to the city of refuge to preserve his life from death. This was the meaning and idea of refuge to the people of Israel . Refuge was the place to run to when your life was endangered to be protected. There was no other place to run to for the person to find protection from death.
We must realize that there is no other place to turn to for safety than God. When trouble came to the Israelite, there was nothing else that should have come to their mind than the six cities of refuge that God had designated. Friends, there should be nothing else that comes to our minds in the times of trouble than fleeing to the Lord for refuge. This was a great theme of the major and the minor prophets. Notice Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Refuge is about trusting in God. You and I will never find refuge from the troubles of this world and we will never find refuge from those who commit evil against us until we put our trust in God. Unfortunately, in religious arenas putting one’s trust in God means saying that I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But that is confession and not trust. Trust is about turning over control to someone else. Trust is about depending upon another for the outcome. Trust is about what you are relying upon when under fire and in a tight bind. Trust is seen in a man like Abraham who could leave all that he had and had known to go to a place that God would show. He was trusting that the outcome would be good, though he did not know what he would encounter along the way. Without this releasing and surrendering of our lives to the Lord, the rest of the steps of David are not going to matter. If we are simply unwilling to let go, then the rest of this lesson has no value. God is a refuge if we will put our trust in Him.
Confidence in innocence (7:3-5)
In verses 3-5 David makes a declaration of his innocence. However, David does not simply state that he is innocent. Listen to his tone about how sure he is concerning his condition. David is laying it out before God. “If I have done this….” David is making it clear that the things which Cush has charged against him are not true. So great is David’s confidence concerning the matters for which he is charged that he makes a very bold statement in verse 5. If any of these things have happened, then David tells God to let the enemy pursue and overtake him. In fact, David says let the enemy put him to death if any of the charges are true. Now, those are strong words to be saying to God. We must see the confidence David has in his purity and in his blamelessness.
This is a character trait that God has called us to have. We must have a blameless character. 2 Peter 3:14 says, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” Blameless does not happen by luck or mere chance. The only way to have a spotless and blameless life is to make a conscious effort about everything that is said and done. What purity in life is demanded of us so that we can say that we are blameless! Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Too often we underestimate the importance of blamelessness and purity in our lives. We forget that this is a call to be a follower of Jesus. Our blamelessness ought to be seen by those we are around, that they would not be able to blaspheme the name of God. Remember one of the condemnations against the people of Israel was that the Gentiles had opportunity to blaspheme God. Purity of life does not allow it. Further, when the evildoers come and try to charge us with error, we can be vindicated from such charges when we have led blameless lives. If we are not blameless, then the charges can stick whether they are true or not. Let us dedicate our minds to purity of life so that we can be found blameless and spotless in the eyes of God and in the eyes of those around us.
Leaves vengeance to God (7:6)
How strongly we desire to take vengeance upon those who falsely charge us, speak evil of us, and try to destroy us. We want to do something because of the injustice that has taken place against us. How strongly we can burn to act! How desirous we can be for retribution! Let us notice what David does concerning these evildoers. David calls upon the Lord’s anger, not upon his own anger. I am impressed with such a statement made by David. David does not act out of his own fury and rage for what is happening against him. David knows that what is being done is wrong. David knows that the Lord is angry at what is happening. Therefore, David pleads for action out of God’s anger and not from his own. This is an impressive act of self-control. In fact, David describes the rage of the enemies and not of himself.
The people of God are not to take vengeance for themselves. The people of God are not to take matters into their own hands when they are wronged. Our reaction may be that this does not seem right. We have been wronged. We have been sinned against while we have been innocent. How can we say that the people of God are not to take matters into their own hands? Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Romans 12:17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We must remember to allow these things to happen to us without retaliation because it is in the hands of God and He will give His wrath against the evildoers. We must trust God to give the appropriate measure of judgment.
Call for God’s judgment (7:7-8)
We also see David call for God’s judgment. But he realizes something that many of us fail to realize when we call upon God to judge evildoers. David understands that judgment must come upon all. David calls for the people to be assembled and judged, but he does not leave himself out of the judging process. David asks that he also be judged according to his righteousness and integrity. Before we can call for judgment upon our enemies, we need to look at ourselves and make sure that we can endure judgment upon ourselves. It is easy for us to demand that God take vengeance on others, but we usually are not so bold when it comes to our own actions. But we cannot expect judgment upon others until we are ready to accept judgment ourselves. David says that he is ready to be judged.
Compare my actions to theirs and vindicate me. Do we have the integrity in our lives that we can ask God to judge? Are we ready for God’s judgment? If not, we need to make changes now to be prepared for the judgment.
The Nature of God’s Judgment
God’s discernment (7:9-10)
David now describes the nature of God’s judgment. How can we know that God will judge rightly? How can we trust that in God vengeance is His and He will repay? David expresses the reasons for his trust. First, David declares that God searches the mind and the hearts. God is able to discern the hearts and minds of men and women. Those with secret intentions, with callous hearts, and with evil motives will be known by God. They are not escaping the notice of the Lord. Why do we think that God does not know what we are doing? Why do we think that God does not know what we are thinking? Why do we think that God does not care? Oh, how we fool ourselves into believing that God does not know or God does not care. God knows and He will bring an end to the evildoer to make the righteous secure.
God’s actions ( 7:11 -13)
Notice the imagery David uses to describe God in judgment. The first image is a shield to the upright in heart. In the judgment, those with the cleansed hearts will be protected and defended by the Lord. David is able to say with confidence that his shield is God Most High. The second image is God as a righteous judge. But notice the frequency of His judgments. David says that God expresses His wrath every day. Too often we merely think about God giving judgment in the very end of time. But this is not the only time the Lord judges. Consider the history of Israel. The 586 B.C. destruction of Jerusalem was not the only judgment of the nation. There had been numerous judgments that the prophets declared in an effort to turn the people to the Lord. The Lord is judging continuously. Judgments occur now and on the final day. This is further seen by the rest of the imagery found in verses 11-13. What is the purpose of God’s continual judgments and expressing of wrath? To make the people relent, according to verse 12. God wants His people to turn back to Him. God will use judgments and troubles to get the people to turn back to Him. But what will happen to the people who will not turn to God?
Notice the imagery again. God will sharpen His sword, bend back the bow, and will make ready the deadly weapons and flaming arrows. This is a very interesting image to describe the condition of those who will not turn their hearts and minds to the Lord. God is standing at the ready to judge. Such a person stands in the condition of an archer with the bow pulled back and flaming arrows ready to fire. Destruction is eminent for those who will not yield to the Lord and those who do evil against God and His people. What greater image of warning could God give us to describe where the disobedient stand with God? God is ready to judge. So what can we do to overcome the snare of sin when we see that we have judgment pointed against us? How can we overcome? David describes some steps in the conclusion of the psalm.
The Snare of Evil ( 7:14 -16)
Sin is a birthing process ( 7:14 )
David describes the snare of evil and problem of sin. In verse 14 David begins by describing the birthing process of sin. When evil is allowed to remain in the heart, it is going to be carried out into action and that will bring about trouble on the evildoer. When evil is allowed to remain in the mind and continues to be in our thoughts, the thoughts will lead us to conceive sin. This is exactly what James described in James 1:14-15. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown brings forth death.” We wonder why we struggle with sin and the reason is that we are hatching out these thoughts in our minds. When we are thinking about these things, we are going to carry them out.
Sin is a trap ( 7:15 )
David further describes that when we have evil in our hearts, we are going to be caught in a trap and fall into a pit. We only hurt ourselves when these things are going on in our hearts. Numbers 32:23 says that your sin will find you out. We are going to get what we deserve. We are going to fall into our own pits and take our own bait when we allow evil within the heart. I believe the best example of this principle is found in the book of Esther concerning a man named Haman. Haman conceived a plot to kill Mordecai through deceiving the king of Persia . So excited was Haman to kill Mordecai that Haman had built the gallows to hang Mordecai. But Haman was caught in his own trap and was hung on the gallows he built himself. Sin is a trap that we will fall into if we allow evil to remain in the heart. We trap ourselves in sorrows, guilt, foolishness, harmful lusts, destruction, and problems beyond measure. We do all of these things to ourselves when we will not clean out our minds and purify our hearts.
Sin is a boomerang ( 7:16 )
David enhances this thought further in verse 16. Sin will come back to your face and capture you. In 1 Kings 21 we read about King Ahab and Naboth. Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard so badly that his wife Jezebel had Naboth killed so that he could take over the vineyard. Note the condemnation in 1 Kings 21:19. “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours.” What was God saying? As you have done to others, so it will be done to you. There is a saying that what goes around comes around. We are going to pay for our actions. We cast blame upon others but many times it is because of our own traps that we have fallen into that we have such problems. Yet many times we are just getting what we deserve as consequences for our foolish and sinful actions.
Sin begins with a lack of thankfulness ( 7:17 )
This is one thing that I do not think we are very willing to believe. How can it be possible that sin can come by a lack of thankfulness? It does not make any sense to us. We want to blame all sorts of other variables in life as the reason why we commit so many sins. But Paul in the book of Romans states very clearly the beginning steps to sinful activity. Romans 1:21-32 describes the sins of the Gentiles, who had given themselves up to every kind of impurity and lust. They worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. They exchanged normal relationship for shameless acts. They had murdered, were covetous, slanderers, and gossips. It is all listed there as you can see. How did the people begin down this road? Verse 21 tells us what were the beginning steps. “They did not honor Him as God or give that to Him.” Sin begins when we take our eyes off God and do not give Him the glory and honor that He deserves in our lives. How easy it is to slip away! How simple it is to fall into our desires and lusts when we lose our focus and take our minds away from God. David reminds us that we need to praise God continually.
David’s story is twofold in this psalm. First, remember the steps of David when the evildoers charge against you. Trust in God, live a pure life to be innocent of the charges and let God do the judging. How do we avoid becoming the evildoer? Realize that sin begins in the heart and if left there will turn into evil acts. Sin is a snare in our lives that will come back to haunt us. Because of our sins, the fiery arrows of God’s judgment are pointed at us. We must obey God’s call to receive mercy for what we have done. Let us turn to God before it is too late. The things we feel and endure are meant to get us to focus upon God and set our lives to Him.