Psalm 7#sn Psalm 7. The psalmist asks the Lord to intervene and deliver him from his enemies. He protests his innocence and declares his confidence in God’s justice.
A musical composition#tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew term שִׁגָּיוֹן (shiggayon; translated here “musical composition”) is uncertain. Some derive the noun from the verbal root שָׁגָה (shagah, “swerve, reel”) and understand it as referring to a “wild, passionate song, with rapid changes of rhythm” (see BDB 993 s.v. שִׁגָּיוֹן). But this proposal is purely speculative. The only other appearance of the noun is in Hab 3:1, where it occurs in the plural. by David, which he sang to the Lord concerning#tn Or “on account of.” a Benjaminite named Cush.#sn Apparently this individual named Cush was one of David’s enemies.
1 O Lord my God, in you I have taken shelter.#tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form probably refers here to a completed action with continuing results.
Deliver me from all who chase me! Rescue me!
2 Otherwise they will rip#tn The verb is singular in the Hebrew text, even though “all who chase me” in v. 1 refers to a whole group of enemies. The singular is also used in vv. 4-5, but the psalmist returns to the plural in v. 6. The singular is probably collective, emphasizing the united front that the psalmist’s enemies present. This same alternation between a collective singular and a plural referring to enemies appears in Pss 9:3, 6; 13:4; 31:4, 8; 41:6, 10-11; 42:9-10; 55:3; 64:1-2; 74:3-4; 89:22-23; 106:10-11; 143:3, 6, 9. me#tn Heb “my life.” The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3. to shreds like a lion;
they will tear me to bits and no one will be able to rescue me.#tn Heb “tearing and there is no one rescuing.” The verbal form translated “tearing” is a singular active participle.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done what they say,#tn Heb “if I have done this.”
or am guilty of unjust actions,#tn Heb “if there is injustice in my hands.” The “hands” figuratively suggest deeds or actions.
4 or have wronged my ally,#tn Heb “if I have repaid the one at peace with me evil.” The form שׁוֹלְמִי (sholÿmi, “the one at peace with me”) probably refers to a close friend or ally, i.e., one with whom the psalmist has made a formal agreement. See BDB 1023 s.v. שָׁלוֹם 4.a.
or helped his lawless enemy,#tn Heb “or rescued my enemy in vain.” The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive (the verb form is pseudo-cohortative; see IBHS 576-77 §34.5.3) carries on the hypothetical nuance of the perfect in the preceding line. Some regard the statement as a parenthetical assertion that the psalmist is kind to his enemies. Others define חָלַץ (khalats) as “despoil” (cf. NASB, NRSV “plundered”; NIV “robbed”), an otherwise unattested nuance for this verb. Still others emend the verb to לָחַץ (lakhats, “oppress”). Most construe the adverb רֵיקָם (reqam, “emptily, vainly”) with “my enemy,” i.e., the one who is my enemy in vain.” The present translation (1) assumes an emendation of צוֹרְרִי (tsorÿriy, “my enemy”) to צוֹרְרוֹ (tsorÿro, “his [i.e., the psalmist’s ally’s] enemy”) following J. Tigay, “Psalm 7:5 and Ancient Near Eastern Treaties,” JBL 89 (1970): 178-86, (2) understands the final mem (ם) on רֵיקָם as enclitic, and (3) takes רִיק (riq) as an adjective modifying “his enemy.” (For other examples of a suffixed noun followed by an attributive adjective without the article, see Pss 18:17 (“my strong enemy”), 99:3 (“your great and awesome name”) and 143:10 (“your good spirit”). The adjective רִיק occurs with the sense “lawless” in Judg 9:4; 11:3; 2 Chr 13:7. In this case the psalmist affirms that he has not wronged his ally, nor has he given aid to his ally’s enemies. Ancient Near Eastern treaties typically included such clauses, with one or both parties agreeing not to lend aid to the treaty partner’s enemies.
5 may an enemy relentlessly chase#tn The vocalization of the verb form seems to be a mixture of Qal and Piel (see GKC 168 §63.n). The translation assumes the Piel, which would emphasize the repetitive nature of the action. The translation assumes the prefixed verbal form is a jussive. The psalmist is so certain that he is innocent of the sins mentioned in vv. 3-4, he pronounces an imprecation on himself for rhetorical effect. me#tn Heb “my life.” The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3. and catch me;#tn Heb “and may he overtake.” The prefixed verbal form is distinctly jussive. The object “me,” though unexpressed, is understood from the preceding statement.
may he trample me to death#tn Heb “and may he trample down to the earth my life.”
and leave me lying dishonored in the dust.#tn Heb “and my honor in the dust may he cause to dwell.” The prefixed verbal form is distinctly jussive. Some emend כְבוֹדִי (khÿvodiy, “my honor”) to כְבֵדִי (khÿvediy, “my liver” as the seat of life), but the term כְבוֹדִי (khÿvodiy) is to be retained since it probably refers to the psalmist’s dignity or honor. (Selah)
6 Stand up angrily,#tn Heb “in your anger.” Lord!
Rise up with raging fury against my enemies!#tn Heb “Lift yourself up in the angry outbursts of my enemies.” Many understand the preposition prefixed to עַבְרוֹת (’avrot, “angry outbursts”) as adversative, “against,” and the following genitive “enemies” as subjective. In this case one could translate, “rise up against my furious enemies” (cf. NIV, NRSV). The present translation, however, takes the preposition as indicating manner (cf. “in your anger” in the previous line) and understands the plural form of the noun as indicating an abstract quality (“fury”) or excessive degree (“raging fury”). Cf. Job 21:30.
Wake up for my sake and execute the judgment you have decreed for them!#tc Heb “Wake up to me [with the] judgment [which] you have commanded.” The LXX understands אֵלִי (’eliy, “my God”) instead of אֵלַי (’elay, “to me”; the LXX reading is followed by NEB, NIV, NRSV.) If the reading of the MT is retained, the preposition probably has the sense of “on account of, for the sake of.” The noun מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat, “judgment”) is probably an adverbial accusative, modifying the initial imperative, “wake up.” In this case צִוִּיתָ (tsivvita, “[which] you have commanded”) is an asyndetic relative clause. Some take the perfect as precative. In this case one could translate the final line, “Wake up for my sake! Decree judgment!” (cf. NIV). However, not all grammarians are convinced that the perfect is used as a precative in biblical Hebrew.
7 The countries are assembled all around you;#tn Heb “and the assembly of the peoples surrounds you.” Some understand the prefixed verbal form as a jussive, “may the assembly of the peoples surround you.”
take once more your rightful place over them!#tn Heb “over it (the feminine suffix refers back to the feminine noun “assembly” in the preceding line) on high return.” Some emend שׁוּבָה (shuvah, “return”) to שֵׁבָה (shevah, “sit [in judgment]”) because they find the implication of “return” problematic. But the psalmist does not mean to imply that God has abandoned his royal throne and needs to regain it. Rather he simply urges God, as sovereign king of the world, to once more occupy his royal seat of judgment and execute judgment, as the OT pictures God doing periodically.
8 The Lord judges the nations.#sn The Lord judges the nations. In hyperbolic fashion the psalmist pictures the nations assembled around the divine throne (v. 7a). He urges God to take his rightful place on the throne (v. 7b) and then pictures him making judicial decisions that vindicate the innocent (see vv. 8-16).
Vindicate me, Lord, because I am innocent,#tn Heb “judge me, O Lord, according to my innocence.”
because I am blameless,#tn Heb “according to my blamelessness.” The imperative verb translated “vindicate” governs the second line as well. O Exalted One!#tn The Hebrew form עָלָי (’alay) has been traditionally understood as the preposition עַל (’al, “over”) with a first person suffix. But this is syntactically awkward and meaningless. The form is probably a divine title derived from the verbal root עָלָה (’alah, “ascend”). This relatively rare title appears elsewhere in the OT (see HALOT 824-25 s.v. I עַל, though this text is not listed) and in Ugaritic as an epithet for Baal (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 98). See M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:44-45, and P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 98.
9 May the evil deeds of the wicked#tn In the psalms the Hebrew term רְשָׁעִים (rÿsha’im, “wicked”) describes people who are proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander (Ps 50:16-20), and cheat others (Ps 37:21). They oppose God and his people. come to an end!#tn The prefixed verbal form is a jussive, expressing an imprecation here.
But make the innocent#tn Or “the godly” (see Ps 5:12). The singular form is collective (see the plural “upright in heart” in v. 10), though it may reflect the personal focus of the psalmist in this context. secure,#tn The prefixed verbal form expresses the psalmist’s prayer or wish.
O righteous God,
you who examine#tn For other uses of the verb in this sense, see Job 7:18; Pss 11:4; 26:2; 139:23. inner thoughts and motives!#tn Heb “and [the one who] tests hearts and kidneys, just God.” The translation inverts the word order to improve the English style. The heart and kidneys were viewed as the seat of one’s volition, conscience, and moral character.
10 The Exalted God is my shield,#tn Traditionally, “my shield is upon God” (cf. NASB). As in v. 8, עַל (’al) should be understood as a divine title, here compounded with “God” (cf. NIV, “God Most High”). See M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:45-46. The shield metaphor pictures God as a protector against deadly attacks.
the one who delivers the morally upright.#tn Heb “pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 11:2; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).
11 God is a just judge;
he is angry throughout the day.#tn Heb “God (the divine name אֵל [’el] is used) is angry during all the day.” The verb זֹעֵם (zo’em) means “be indignant, be angry, curse.” Here God’s angry response to wrongdoing and injustice leads him to prepare to execute judgment as described in the following verses.
12 If a person#tn Heb “If he”; the referent (a person who is a sinner) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The subject of the first verb is understood as the sinner who fails to repent of his ways and becomes the target of God’s judgment (vv. 9, 14-16). does not repent, God sharpens his sword#tn Heb “if he does not return, his sword he sharpens.” The referent (God) of the pronominal subject of the second verb (“sharpens”) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
and prepares to shoot his bow.#tn Heb “his bow he treads and prepares it.” “Treading the bow” involved stepping on one end of it in order to string it and thus prepare it for battle.
13 He prepares to use deadly weapons against him;#tn Heb “and for him he prepares the weapons of death.”
he gets ready to shoot flaming arrows.#tn Heb “his arrows into flaming [things] he makes.”
14 See the one who is pregnant with wickedness,
who conceives destructive plans,
and gives birth to harmful lies – #tn Heb “and he conceives harm and gives birth to a lie.”sn Pregnant with wickedness…gives birth to harmful lies. The psalmist metaphorically pictures the typical sinner as a pregnant woman, who is ready to give birth to wicked, destructive schemes and actions.
15 he digs a pit#tn Heb “a pit he digs and he excavates it.” Apparently the imagery of hunting is employed; the wicked sinner digs this pit to entrap and destroy his intended victim. The redundancy in the Hebrew text has been simplified in the translation.
and then falls into the hole he has made.#tn The verb forms in vv. 15-16 describe the typical behavior and destiny of those who attempt to destroy others. The image of the evildoer falling into the very trap he set for his intended victim emphasizes the appropriate nature of God’s judgment.
16 He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans#tn Heb “his harm [i.e., the harm he conceived for others, see v. 14] returns on his head.”
and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head.#tn Heb “and on his forehead his violence [i.e., the violence he intended to do to others] comes down.”
17 I will thank the Lord for#tn Heb “according to.” his justice;
I will sing praises to the sovereign Lord!#tn Heb “[to] the name of the Lord Most High.” God’s “name” refers metonymically to his divine characteristics as suggested by his name, in this case the compound “Lord Most High.” The divine title “Most High” (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Ps 47:2.