Psalm 7 ~ "Shield for the Just"
Every analogy and illustration falls short at some point. Some of them hold up really well, while others may have a lot of holes. This is one of the latter, but bear with me for a moment. I want to talk about sidekicks. First of all, God is not our sidekick. We are not even his side kick. We are his children, the objects on which he lavishes his love and grace. He is the hero. He is the main character, and he does not need us. That being said, in any literary or cinematic story, the hero and sidekick often have a beautiful relationship. The hero is the main character of course, but the hero would never be what he is without his sidekick. The sidekick supports and protects and even saves the hero. That’s why I wanted to draw your attention to sidekicks as we look at Psalm 7, another song of the might David. The typical literary hero would be nothing without his faithful sidekick. There is such great trust and protection that the hero is able to climb to higher heights. God is not our sidekick, but we are going to look at the peace, strength, and protection that He gives to us.
[READ PSALM 7] “A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite” The term shiggaion indicates that this song is one of wild passion. To reflect that passion, it has an irregular and erratic rhythm. Cush the Bejaminite is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture except here in the title of Psalm 7. A number of scholars make an educated guess that this refers to king Saul, who also was a Benjaminite, but even so it’s still just guess and we don’t know for certainty. It could have been someone different who spoke these words to King Saul or it could have been someone from a completely separate account.
David begins this song with a statement of trust in the Lord and a plea to save him from those who are pursuing him. If God does not intervene, David’s pursuers would destroy him like a lion. They would crush his bones and tear the flesh from him. Growing up as shepherd, this metaphor was not without significance. When David faced the giant Goliath, he recounted to King Saul how he fought off lions and bears to protect his father’s flock--to protect them from having their flesh torn off. As a shepherd, he was responsible for the sheep. Being charged with their safe keeping, this required the shepherd to diligently look after the sheep. I recently read a true story that took place in Turkey. Some shepherds took their sheep out to pasture. At some point during the morning, they left their flock, sat down and prepared their breakfast. While they were eating, one of the sheep walked off a cliff. It wasn’t an extremely high drop, so the sheep did not die from the fall. However, the thing about sheep is that they flock together for safety. So where one goes, they all go. 1,500 of them to be precise. So even though, the height of the fall was not enough to kill the sheep, 400 of them still died from simply being crushed by the other 1,100 sheep who fell on top of them. And where were their protectors? Eating breakfast. They failed. It was their job to protect their helpless sheep from danger. This danger includes the more aggressive predators like lion and wolves and bears as well the pitfalls of breakfast. A good shepherd protects his sheep. God is the good shepherd. We see a wonderful example of this in Psalm 23. [READ PSALM 23] God leads us and provides for us and protects us. So when David makes the plea to the Lord, the good shepherd, to intervene lest he be destroyed by the lions in his life, he is pleading with God to take notice of the predators who are pursuing His flock and not sit idle.
Verse 3. “If I have done this” Here we see what the words of this Benjaminite were, the charges he made against David. “If I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause” David is being pursued by his enemy for charges he claims innocence to. But he is still humble. He is not his own judge, so he defers to the true judge. Very similar to Paul’s statement to the Corinthians, “In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, by I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” Let justice be done he says. If I committed the crime, then let me bear my judgement. Has David committed sin? Undeniably yes. As all have. He is not declaring sinlessness. Before the almighty God, we do not begin to receive the full weight of what we deserve for our guilt. The only thing we truly deserve is punishment. However, David is not prideful for making his claims of innocence concerning this situation. And if he truly was innocent, then he really would be underserving of being slandered and pursued by the hands of this enemy.
As I said before, we don’t know for certain if this Cush from the tribe of Benjamin is indeed King Saul, but regardless, there is a lot of correlation between this Psalm and David’s relationship with King Saul, and so we will still look at that story as an example tonight. David was a faithful servant and mighty warrior in Saul’s army. He had also been anointed to be king after Saul. David won the favor or the people, leading them to proclaim, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Saul eventually became so jealous of David that he tried to kill him. He pursues him. David is forced to seek refuge in the wilderness. He is declared an outlaw. He cannot even come to the tabernacle to worship and offer sacrifices. He is cut off. And yet, he was innocent. Betrayal is one thing to endure, but slander is much worse. Not only is it betrayal, but words of slander are heard by many. Every person who believes the lie and is slated against David becomes an additional incident of betrayal. Slander spreads. It reaches exponentially further than a single act of betrayal.
We’ve almost all been slandered against. It is bitterly painful. As Christians, we should expect slander. We serve God almighty, the Lord of heaven, but there is also the evil prince of this world. That prince is the Father of lies and he is against our Lord. If anyone has not surrendered to Christ, then they serve the prince of this world, the father of lies. So yes, we should expect slander. Yet very few, if any of us, will ever experience the extent of slander and betrayal that David did. Our slanderers are often people we continue to have regular interaction with. Perhaps coworkers, or relatives. So we engage in this political tango, this uncomfortable dance and charade. And perhaps you’ve confronted your slanderer. Maybe there was conflict. Maybe there was temporary remorse, but imagine it continues. You’ve tried to play by the rules, but they aren’t. You continue to be trampled and pursued by your enemy. Then you have an opportunity, an opportunity take the upper hand. The only thing is that it requires you to engage in some activity that you perhaps would not have even considered originally. And so then we may rationalize. They’re not playing by the rules. This isn’t nearly as bad as some of the things that they’ve already done. This would simply be giving them a taste of their own medicine. And it would be finished. Surely that’s better than this continued war. This is THEIR consequence, rather than our compromise. That’s a great temptation. But let’s look at David’s example.
David had that opportunity more than once. Please turn with me to 1 Samuel 24 [READ 1 SAM 24:3-19]. Saul relinquished for a period but then again pursued David. And David walked into Saul’s camp while Saul was sleeping. He could have easily killed King Saul. He could have put an end to things once and for all. But instead David took Saul’s spear and water jar which was next to Saul’s head. He left camp and had another conversation similar to the first interaction. Saul continued to pursue David. Eventually Saul became surrounded by Philistines and fell on his own sword to avoid being captured. Yet, he did not die right away. An Amelekite found Saul and killed him for he saw that Saul could not survive his injuries. He put Saul out of his misery and brought news of Saul’s death and the crown to David. Even then, David had the Amelekite killed for killing God’s anointed servant. David did not raise a finger against Saul. And this was a man that not only slandered him, but pursued him to death and killed 75 priests because they gave aid to David. It would have been so easy for David to reach out his sword and make one clean stroke. It would have been so easy to claim self defense. Rather than defending himself, He trusted God to be his shepherd and bring deliverance.
Turn in your Bibles please to 1Peter 2. [READ 1 PEER 2:13-25] Slander is great temptation for us to rise against. And I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t renounce lies and falsehood about us. We rejoice with the truth. We see here Peter’s letter that our recourse should not be stealthy attacks, but pure living. Live and walk with such discipline and faith that we are able to have self control and certainty in all of our actions. Walking in this great integrity will not prevent slander, but it will squelch it out and give transparency to all our actions.
We live in a time where there is great criticism against Christianity. It is very easy to find platforms and causes filled with half truths and twisted words. Throughout the world, there are many conversations and decisions brewing that would oppose Christians and penalize us for living out our beliefs. But we can learn a lot from David. It is so tempting to lash out with bold words, but those attacks seem to often go unheard, or become twisted, or perhaps are spoken out of fear, pride, and anger and end up only soiling our testimony.
Although David was an outlaw in Saul’s kingdom, he was able to call out for true justice to the true judge. We would often be afraid for all of our thoughts and actions to be known. We hush our voices and are careful about what we say to who. But imagine the freedom that comes to the innocent, to those who take every step with self control and purity. David wasn’t sinless, but he knew could call on his judge. He didn’t have to seek favors and loopholes, but merely justice. And this is the judge who “tests the minds and hearts”. What peace God gives to those who walk in his ways.
Verse 10 “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart”. What peace and confidence to know that the God in heaven, the sovereign creator and ruler of all is your God, your judge, your shepherd, your shield. As a young man, in the face of enemies like lions, David knew and trusted his God to protect him. But one cannot merely say those things. God isn’t your shield merely because you say he is or even desire him to be. We see in verse 11 that he is a righteous judge. He tests our hearts and our minds and sees every single wicked thought we have. There is no compromise in him. God saves the people who he can benefit from most? No, he saves the upright in heart. And consequently, as an adult in the face of personal attacks from King Saul, David knew and trusted his God to protect Him. (?)
To have grace, protection, and forgiveness is an amazing thing, but we cannot take it for granted. David could have presumed on grace and compromised, but he did not. Saul took advantage of his position and acted as his own priest. He tried to manipulate God and achieve his desires through mere rituals. He did not put faith in God. Thus he was rejected by God for a man with an upright heart, a man after God’s own heart, David. Salvation is to the upright in heart who endure in walking in integrity.
Verse 12-13 We must never confuse vengeance with justice. We must also be careful not to presume upon our own idea of justice. As David said to Saul in 1 Samuel 24:12 “May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. Vengeance is not justice. We know that judgement will come to all, but we must seek to offer salvation and not be volunteering to swing the sword and release the bows. That is for the judge. (your example of trying to pry God’s fingers...we cant even do that) We must trust him and patiently await his justice even in the midst of persecution.
Verse 14 Sin breeds more sin. The man who is not desiring to be completely pure in every area will compromise. When we embrace sin, and walk in hypocrisy, there will always be one more situation, one more small circumstance that requires some misdeed. We’ll be pregnant with wickedness, always caught up in the inevitable coming sin.
Vs. 15-16 When caught up in a web of sin, whether that be lies or a progressing pattern of bitterness, pride, aggression, or rivalry, we all want an escape. We want everything to be better in a moment. The more we seek i, the more damage we inflict. The only real freedom is to admit our guilt and call upon mercy and forgiveness. Integrity doesn’t mean perfection. But it will lead us in humble confession. Integrity will keep us pure.
And that leads us to David’s final exaltation here, “give thanks to the Lord due to His righteousness.” Integrity will lead us to call on our shepherd and protector. We know what we deserve, but in God’s mercy, He judges His children by their integrity, which is really from Him. Any and all good in us is imputed on us by God, which means that it is His goodness and grace. David in this whole song is really calling not on his own righteousness, but God’s. He is our shield. We can call on the righteous judge because His grace has not brought pure wrath, but righteous justice.