The Judgment on David Vs. The Judgment of David’s Enemies: A Brief Reflection on Psalm 7

1 O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
2 Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

3 O LORD my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
4 If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
5 Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust.  Selah

6 Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;
Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies;
Rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!
7 So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You;
For their sakes, therefore, return on high.
8 The LORD shall judge the peoples;
Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness,
And according to my integrity within me.

9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
But establish the just;
For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
10 My defense is of God,
Who saves the upright in heart.

11 God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.

14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.

17 I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

-Psalm 7

The Judgment of David/The Judgment of the Wicked

Continuing through the Psalms, kind of randomly, I decided to run though Psalm 7 very briefly. This psalm stands out from the last two psalms I looked at in that while Psalm 15 speaks of the perfect obedience of Christ (see here), and Psalm 5 speaks of the mercy of God shown to those whom Christ has justified once and for all (see here), Psalm 7 speaks of the judicial innocence of David as he pleads his case against the wicked before God. David is seeking justice for crimes being unjustly attacked by the wicked and can, therefore, rightly state: “The LORD shall judge the peoples; Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, And according to my integrity within me” (v. 8).

Wicked men are persecuting the righteous and David desires to see an end to their injustice. The entire psalm bears great resemblance to Revelation 6:9-10, where we read:

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

As such, we see that when David is appealing to his own righteousness as he prays for God’s deliverance, he is not declaring his innocence before God with regard to his own law-keeping, but he is declaring his innocence before God with regard to the treatment he is receiving from his enemies. In other words: There is no reason for the unjust treatment that David is receiving; in this regard, David is righteous and “upright in heart” (v. 10).

This is important to note, for there are many who would seek to use this passage to establish a theology of works-righteousness, or justification-by-faith-and-works, all the while failing to properly deal with the following, very important, information.

[a.] The themes of salvation and judgment are primarily, in this psalm, temporal. Psalm 7 is concerned with justice executed by God upon the wicked who deal unjustly, harshly even, with the (already) righteous.

[b.] David’s differentiates between the judgment he will face if he is guilty, and the judgment his enemies will face. In vv. 3-5, David invites judgment to fall upon himself; however, the judgment he will face, if indeed he is guilty, would not be from God but from his enemies – mere men. The men who are dealing sinfully with David, however, will not face a mere temporal and human judgment for their crime (as David clearly states he would if he were guilty), but the terrifying wrath of God (cf. vv. 11-16). David, as a justified child of God, may face harsh affliction at the hands of mortal men for his sin, but David’s enemies will face the almighty wrath of God. These two forms of judgment are incommensurate with one another; as we learned from Psalm 5, one is either a child of God or a child of the wicked one – one is either justified by faith alone (apart from the works of the law), or one is a worker of iniquity. David cannot fall under the eternal judgment of God (for he is God’s elect, justified once and for all by faith in Christ), but he can be chastised for his sin here and now.

[c.] The theme of salvation here is temporal, but hints at an eschatological completion at the return of Christ (again, cf. Revelation 6:9-17). Practically, this means, for us who have been justified by faith alone in Christ, that our joy should lie in the fact that we are no longer enemies of God, in spite of whatever we may be presently facing. The wrath of man may be great, but God’s wrath is infinitely greater. Thank God for Christ who bore the wrath of God in our place, so that we, believing on Him, might be saved. This also should remind us to pray for our enemies, seeing as they are first and foremost the enemies of God whose end will be much worse than any affliction they might presently lay upon us.

[d.] David is a believer; his enemies are godless men. David already trusts in the Lord (v.1); his enemies, however, are the objects of God’s wrath (cf. v.11 & Eph. 2:1-3, et al).

David’s appeal is to God to judge His enemies, men that attack and persecute the justified children of God. We would do well to pray for a heart like David’s that is honest enough to seek temporal retribution for our own sins, to seek to be chastised here and now for our sins against others – and pray for our enemies, understanding that the wrath of God is a terrifying thing, and that it is only by grace that we have been eternally saved and set in a secure position before God, not by our own works.

Amen.

-h.

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