A Reflection on the Psalms

Read through Psalm 7
Hebrews 10.26-27 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” These words are helpful to capture the idea presented here in Psalm 7. This psalm also exemplifies the wisdom presented in the opening of the entire Psalter – Psalm 1: God will bless the way of the righteous ones and He will pour out wrath upon the way of the wicked ones.

The psalmist begins placing his trust in God, “I take refuge in you” (v.1). He calls on the protection of the LORD from his enemies who are as brutal and violent as lions pursuing their prey to devour (v.2). The cruel violence of this imagery is important to keep in mind.

Even though his faith and trust is in the LORD, the psalmist still takes time to confess his sins. To confess the hidden evils in his heart. The psalmist asks that if “there is guilt on my hands” (v.3), then he will accept the wrath that he deserves. If he is to be found as violent as lions, then he accepts having his life trampled to the ground (v.5). But the psalmist believes in his innocence. In fact, the psalmist asks the LORD to “vindicate” (or justify) him “according to my righteousness, according to my integrity” (v.8). This may rub us the wrong way because any appeal to “my righteousness” would seem utterly presumptuous. We focus on “God’s righteousness” when we think of His “vindication” of us. But if we consider the whole of Psalm 7, we will see that there is not a contradiction of righteousness here. We must keep in mind the theological implications of the significance of “my righteousness” (v.8) being situated completely in the context of, and is encompassed by, God’s righteousness (v.6, 9, 11, 17).

A core attribute of God is His justice. The core of this psalm lies in verse 9: “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.” And what accounts for God being such a righteous judge? Well, He “probes minds and hearts” (v.9); therefore, He knows fully every person – the righteous and the wicked. And because of God’s righteousness He “saves the upright in heart” (v.10). And who are the upright in heart? They are those who “relent” (v.12). To relent means to fully surrender or abandon a harsh intention or cruel treatment. Those who are as violent as lions are not ones who relent (v.2). It is these violent wicked ones that do not relent, and therefore God “prepares his deadly weapons” for them (v.12-13).

God, in all His divine justice, seeks to protect the innocent and give relief to the victims. We cannot remove victims from our sins. Sin always creates victims – whether of the other or of the self. And God’s justice allows Him to “vindicate” and “save” the victim (who is the innocent one), and at the same time carries out His wrath on the violent and the wicked. Therefore, the innocent victim, the psalmist, can worship the LORD “because of his righteousness” (v.17).

Prayer: Father, we ask that you search us deeply and bring to light our sin. We confess that we have sinned against you and made victims – of ourselves and of others – through our sins. We have been your enemies. We ask for forgiveness and to be blessed with your righteousness. We praise you for transforming us from your enemies to your children. We thank you that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is how we see your love today and forever more.

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