Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psalm 7

Psalm 7
A psalm of confidence in God's justice

 "A Meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite. O LORD my God, in You I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me. Lest they tear me like a lion, rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver. O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there is iniquity in my hands, if I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me, or have plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue and overtake me; yes, let him trample my life to the earth, and lay my honour in the dust. Selah." (verses 1-5)

       David writes of a man from the tribe of Benjamin, Cush, who is persecuting him; Cush had apparently spoken malicious slander against David ("...concerning the words of Cush"...vs.1), accusing him of a specific sin, ("...if I have done this..." vs.3). There are others in agreement with Cush as well, ("...all those who persecute me"...vs.1), who seem to have set out to find and kill David for this supposed iniquity he is accused of.  David, in fear for his life, cries out to God for deliverance from their hands. In his appeal for Divine intervention on his behalf, he magnifies his own innocence by pronouncing a harsh judgement upon his own head should he actually be found guilty of what they are accusing him of.  In so doing, we are given a hint about the nature of the accusation itself. 
       David lays out three ifs, so to speak, followed by three thens; in other words, "If I have indeed done this, then let this happen to me." The three ifs are: "if there is iniquity in my hands," "if I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me," and "[if I] have plundered my enemy without cause." So the nature of Cush's slander against David is that he treated someone else unjustly, whether friend or foe, and "did them wrong."  David responds by inviting them to pursue and overtake him, trample him under foot until he is dead, and defame his name, ("...lay my honour in the dust"...vs.5), if he is indeed guilty of wrong. 
       Perhaps you have been slandered before. Someone has unjustly accused you or defamed your reputation before others, and you now bear the shame of their words, however untrue. I know how that feels. Everything inside you begs to defend yourself and your actions. From experience, I have this one nugget of wisdom to offer: do not defend yourself. 
       It says in Proverbs, "The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him." (18:17) Someone has already pleaded their case against you, but when you plead innocent before others, you actually make them your judges! Like the defense in a court case, you are suspected of guilt, and your first inclination is to defend yourself against the prosecution. However, you are not on trial before men. You owe no one an explanation or alibi. If you are innocent before God, then let God be your defense. 
       It says of Jesus, "And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7) Once I was accused of doing something just aweful, and at the start, I sought often to clear my name. Yet as time progressed, I realized that people believe what they want to, and those who love truth, heard it. I found myself sympathizing with those who believe a lie about me, for if it was actually true, I would deserve to be tarred, feathered, and exposed as the villain I was! Now, when the matter is spoken of, I simply say nothing to my own defense, for if God wants my name cleared, that is His business, not mine. 
       We have been crucified with Christ and our life is now His; if He decides to do something about the slander, that is His place alone. Like David, pour out your heart to the Lord alone, and then simply rest in Him.

"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! So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You; for their sakes, therefore, return on high. The LORD shall judge the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me. Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just; for the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart." (verses 6-10)

       David's plea here is unique; he is begging God to get up on His judgment seat and judge him publicly!  He is essence saying, "Get everyone together, all the peoples, and hold court. I'll go stand in the place of the accused and my accusers can stand opposite. God, would You please act as Judge, because we know You are just. Lets just get this whole messy thing out on the table once and for all. Lord, You know the truth about me. Judge me by it. You see everything, including our hearts and minds. I know I am innocent. You know it. Defend me and publicly put this thing to rest for good."
          David's confidence was in God's omniscience; he knew God knew the truth, even if no one else did. And that was all that really mattered; still, he hungered for others to know the truth, "...for their sakes..."(vs.7) Clearly, believing this particular slander about David was not in the best interest of the people of Israel, David's friends and followers, or really anyone...for truth is always in the best interest of everyone. Some might argue that there is a time for everything in its place, and that there are times that truth should be set aside for the sake of unity, or peace, or whatever. Some might argue that speaking truth is not always gracious, but herein lies the beauty of the gospel of grace: it is truth coupled with grace that liberates the human soul from guilt, fear, hate, shame, and sorrow. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) 
       Truth is always in our best interests.

"God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes his arrows into fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity; yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood. He made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High." (verses 11-17)

       David remains confident in the Lord's justice. He probably has a certain way he hopes this will turn out, but regardless of the outcome, he is assured that God is just and will not forget the cause of the innocent. At the final judgment, God will judge all the peoples righteously, but even in this short life time, God often allows natural consequences to serve as His judgment upon the wicked. Haman, at the time of the Persian Empire, who had built gallows upon which he intended to hang his enemy,  the God-fearing Mordecai, was instead executed upon them himself. David rests not in a divine promise so much as the very character and nature of God. He knows God is just. That is enough for him. 
        Whether God literally fights for his cause, or simply allows David's enemies to receive the due recompense for their accumulated acts of wickedness, David praises God in advance. David glories in the righteousness of God that is his by faith alone, and glorifies God in that same righteousness that he knows will ensure justice for himself. David starts this psalm with a declaration of trust and ends with praise. Such is always the way of faith. We can glorify God for what we know and trust He will do, even before there is any sign of it happening. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

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