Threatened by Enemies
(H) A lament (Shiggaion) of David which he sang to Yahweh because of the words of Cush, a Benjamite. (1) Yahweh, my God, in you I seek refuge. Save me from all who pursue me and deliver me (2) lest they tear apart my soul like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to deliver me. (3) Yahweh, my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice on my hands, (4) if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or have plundered my enemy without a reason, (5) then let my enemy pursue my soul and overtake me. Let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.
Several repetitions are scattered through these five verses. Two verbs are used twice: “deliver” (vss. 1 & 2) and “pursue” (vs. 1 & 5), terms which indicate how threatened David felt in the circumstances which motivated him to compose this psalm. Twice David invokes God with the same title, “Yahweh, my God” (at the beginnings of vss. 1 & 3).
This double use of God’s name helps us distinguish the two divisions of this segment. In the first two verses, David calls out to God for deliverance from enemies that were intent upon destroying him. In the next three verses, he pleads his innocence with three hypothetical “if” clauses (vss. 3 & 4), all followed by a conclusive “then” (vs. 5), to set forth the consequences he would be willing to face if he were actually guilty of such treachery.
I. David seeks God’s deliverance. (1 & 2)
II. David protests his innocence. (3-5)
When pursued by enemies who are unjustly seeking to destroy us, we turn for refuge to the protection of a just and holy God.
The heading of Psalm 7 provides us with an important clue regarding the circumstances of David’s life that led him to write this psalm. While we do not know the precise identity of the person named “Cush,” we do know that the Benjamites were the tribe to which Saul, the first king of Israel, belonged. David had never sought to overthrow his predecessor. In fact, he had made every effort to serve King Saul and to avoid conflict with him by fleeing rather than resisting his murderous assaults. Saul’s son, Jonathan, had become David’s close friend and ally and had supported his cause until the tragic day when both Saul and Jonathan were slain by the Philistines.
Whether Cush was a member of the army that pursued David during Saul’s lifetime or was a lone avenger who sought David’s death after he had become king is something we may never know. Whatever his identity, David felt him to be a genuine threat and cried out to God for protection. It was not due to David’s desire or ambition that God had chosen him to replace Saul as Israel’s king. It was because of Saul’s repeated failures to honor the Lord with wholehearted obedience that he had been disqualified and then removed from leadership.
At various times in our lives we may find ourselves bearing blame for something we did not do or subject to the envy of others for an issue over which we had no control. Good students are sometimes treated with contempt by poorer students for getting A’s on examinations or term papers and ruining the curve. Sometimes a brother or sister is wrongfully held responsible for having become a parent’s favored child, the one who receives more attention or a larger portion of the inheritance. Sometimes good employees who do their work conscientiously can become the objects of envy and may even be subjected to the attacks of others in the workplace who accuse them of pandering to their bosses and showing up their poor performances.
What should we do when we find ourselves in such a position, under attack through no fault of our own? David’s example of turning to the Lord for protection and eventual vindication can help us bear up under such unfair treatment. When others turn against us with their resentments and accusations and we have no effective way to defend ourselves, we must, like David, trust in God to guard our reputations and keep us safe.