The Wages of Sin
(14) Look! He who travails with evil (as a pregnant woman), having conceived trouble, gives birth to deception. (15) He has dug a pit, scooping it out, and falls into the hole he has made. (16) The trouble (he causes) returns upon his own head. His violence shall fall upon the crown (of his head). (17) I will give thanks to Yahweh because of his righteousness. I will sing praise to the name of Yahweh most high.
David concludes this psalm with three portraits of those who persist in a life of sinful rebellion. He begins by using three verbs associated with pregnancy, “conceive,” “travail,” and “give birth,” as a way of describing how sin adversely affects the lives of those who refuse to turn to God (vs. 14). He then makes use of three more verbs, “dig,” “scoop out,” and “fall in,” to provide another graphic picture of the way sin damages lives (vs. 15). Finally, he employs two more verbs, “return” and “fall upon,” to describe the effects of sin (vs. 16). Had David been using contemporary English, he might well have turned to the term “boomerang.” Sin, like a boomerang, always returns to wreak havoc on the sinner.
In the final verse of the psalm, David employs two terms he used earlier to refer to God: “righteousness” (vss. 9 & 11) and “most high” (vs. 10). Note also that David refers to “Yahweh most high,” not “God most high,” as an expression of personal praise rather than a general reference to deity.
I. Depictions of sin's devastations (14-16)
II. Delighting in Yahweh, righteous and exalted (17)
The more we understand about sin’s devastating effects in our lives, the more we will desire to forsake sin and live for Yahweh’s glory.
The New Testament presents Jesus as a master teacher who skillfully used parables and stories to convey God’s truth. However, teaching with illustrative material did not originate with him. The Old Testament is filled with images that touch our hearts and get under our skin including this portion of Psalm 7. David closes this chapter with three powerful analogies, each one a verse in length, that personalize the misery that results from a life of sin.
First, David compares sin to childbirth. When we rebel against God, sin is “conceived.” Quickly that sin grows into a fetus called “evil” which, after a time of gestation, finally emerges from the womb as a fully developed infant that now takes on a perverse life of its own. The second parable describes how an animal trapper carefully digs a pit and prepares it to catch his quarry. So cleverly has he hidden the trap that, when he returns to retrieve his prey, he falls into the pit and is caught in his own device. The third describes how the sinner in attempting to do evil to others actually brings harm upon himself. Like a launched boomerang, his effort to hurt others unexpectedly returns to strike his own head.
“For the wages of sin is death...” (Rom 6:23) is a verse many believers learn as children. David’s message in Psalm 7 is precisely this, that a life apart from God will inevitably lead to personal devastation and spiritual ruin. Paul told the Ephesian believers, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph. 2:1). Before coming to faith in Christ, we were the walking dead, spiritual zombies. However, for those in Christ Paul describes a wholly different life situation: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4 & 5). What a difference faith in a resurrected Savior makes!