Psalm 7: God is a Righteous Judge

Psalm 7 English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.

Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
    save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
    rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
Lord my God, if I have done this,
    if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
    or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
    and let him trample my life to the ground
    and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
    lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
    awake for me; you have appointed a judgement.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
    over it return on high.
The Lord judges the peoples;
    judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
    and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
    and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
    O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
    who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
    and a God who feels indignation every day.
12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
    he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
    making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
    and is pregnant with mischief
    and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
    and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
    and on his own skull his violence descends.
17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
    and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

v17 is the key verse in this psalm. Praise God because he is a righteous judge who will bring judgement on the world. Now before you write this post off as the rantings of a fundamentalist madman, there are a few news items I want you to think about: Jayde Panayiotou; Xenophobia and ISIS. Often the comments, tweets and status updates associated with these sorts of tragic events are along the lines of “when will it ever stop?” or “how can people be so evil?” This is not very different from the cry of the Psalmist who says;

Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
    and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
    O righteous God!

When we take a good hard look at the world, and at the people inhabiting it, a day of righteous judgement by a just judge is very good thing. We should praise God that he does not allow evil to go unpunished. We should praise God that he is righteous and just. The reality is that however indignant you feel about all that is wrong with the world, God feels it more keenly.

11 God is a righteous judge,
    and a God who feels indignation every day.

The problem is where we draw the line. It is easy to condemn a killer, whether they kill because of a terrorist organisation, mob mentality or financial gain, we find it easy to say they are deserving of judgement. But what about us? Are we willing to be consistent enough to let God’s righteous judgement fall not only on them but on us as well? Are we willing to accept that if God feels indignation about the evil in them, he also feels it about the evil in us? This is what is so striking about this psalm:

Lord my God, if I have done this,
    if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
    or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
    and let him trample my life to the ground
    and lay my glory in the dust.

The reality is that what separates us from them is not that they are guilty and that we are not. True, they may be more guilty of greater crimes, but a criminal is a criminal no matter the crime. So what hope is there for those of us who hate the evil in the world but who also, when we’re brave enough to admit it, sit far too comfortably with the evil inside us. The answer lies in v12:

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
    he has bent and readied his bow;

Our hope does not lie in attaining perfect innocence but in repentance. That is, admitting and turning away from the evil that plagues us and turning back to God to forgive us and change us. The wonderful promise of God alluded to in this passage is that those who repent and believe in Jesus will be forgiven and transformed. Jesus will take the guilt and wrath that you deserve and give you the righteousness you don’t.

O God may we never be deluded by self-righteousness. May we recognise your judgement as good and just and may we run to Jesus for refuge.

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