WICKED AND RIGHTEOUS
Eternal Lord, I thank you for the wisdom of Scripture that guides me through the complexities of daily life. I want to live in you and for you.
Read PSALM 7
A shiggaion[b] of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.
1 Lord my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
2 or they will tear me apart like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
3 Lord my God, if I have done this
and there is guilt on my hands—
4 if I have repaid my ally with evil
or without cause have robbed my foe—
5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me;
let him trample my life to the ground
and make me sleep in the dust.[c]
6 Arise, Lord, in your anger;
rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.
7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you,
while you sit enthroned over them on high.
8 Let the Lord judge the peoples.
Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High.
9 Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure—
you, the righteous God
who probes minds and hearts.
10 My shield[d] is God Most High,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
a God who displays his wrath every day.
12 If he does not relent,
he[e] will sharpen his sword;
he will bend and string his bow.
13 He has prepared his deadly weapons;
he makes ready his flaming arrows.
14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open … and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit.’1
This psalm is attributed to David but we know nothing of his adversary, Cush the Benjaminite. It is likely that the psalmist has been falsely accused and may even have to appear before the Temple court. While this psalm was written to be sung, we must remember that it is a prayer. Today, most of our own hymns and songs are also prayers addressed to God. We should not mouth the words thoughtlessly, carried away by music or dulled by familiarity.
So the psalmist is speaking to God. As Christians, conscious of our own shortcomings and the need to be humble and honest before God, we may balk at Old Testament people, like Job or some psalmists, who protest their innocence before God,2 but here, when this psalmist speaks of ‘my righteousness’ (v 8), it is not a claim about the whole of life but about a specific allegation. The psalmist claims to be innocent of the false accusation brought against him, prepared to swear before God that he has done no wrong (vs 3–5). We can all understand that. We all know whether we are guilty of something or not. We know perfectly well whether or not we stole something, hurt someone or lied about our income. We also know, however, that we can be victims of injustice. Thus we must read the psalms with our finger in the New Testament. We know what the psalmist did not know. We know that injustice will not always be righted in this life. We know that these tensions will only reach their final resolution in the life to come.3 In the end we can only do what the psalmist did: praise God (v 17) and trust our future to God.
‘Hail to the Lord’s anointed, / great David’s greater Son; / hail, in the time appointed, / his reign on earth begun! / He comes to break oppression, / to set the captive free.’4
Mighty God, I acknowledge before you that criticism is not easy for me to handle. I want to leave any criticism of me in your hands because you know the truth and I must answer to you.
1 Collect for Purity, The Communion, Book of Common Prayer 2 Job 29:4–25 3 2 Thess 1:5–7 4 James Montgomery, 1771–1854
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