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Psummer in the Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:15
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Slander. Criticism. Persecution. Gossip. Accusations. Something...
We don’t know what’s going on exactly here with David; we just know it has something to do with a fellow named Cush, a Benjamite.
We can let our imaginations take us various places pretty quickly. Imagine with me:
The tribe of Benjamin is the tribe of Saul, David’s predecessor. This man—Cush—is part of the same tribe Saul was. So Cush and Saul are likely related, if distantly. Let’s say they’re cousins, Cush and Saul.
Saul, the first king of Israel, was rejected as king by the Lord for his rejecting what God said. David is anointed in Saul’s place. Saul tries to kill David, pursues David; David spares Saul’s life again and again. Eventually, Saul takes his own life, falling on his own sword.
It’s a terribly sad story (re: 1 Samuel). Upon realizing that Cush and Saul were of the same tribe (and, in my mind, cousins), I thought, “Oh, sure. Cush is threatening David for Saul’s downfall, for stealing Saul’s throne, for Saul’s death.”
Here’s the thing: who knows what’s going on with Cush and David? Cush is up to something. Cush and David are in the middle of something. Cush has accused David of something. And so David, the musician and song-writer—the psalmist—writes a song concerning Cush and sings it to the Lord:
Psalm 7:title NIV
A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.
In this psalm, in this song of David, turns to the just and righteous God for justice. We don’t have all the background information we’d like (nosy as we are), but we have the prayer that came out of it.
I pray the Holy Spirit will use Psalm 7 to teach us to:

Watch Our Prayer (Psalm 7:1-5)

Psalm 7:1–5 NIV
1 Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, 2 or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me. 3 Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands— 4 if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe— 5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.

Watch Our Prayer (Psalm 7:1-5)

As we pray, we should take special care with our prayers; we must watch our prayer.
There is the trouble, though, of praying like we think we ought to pray—praying old, tired prayers that sound the same all the time; there’s the trouble of praying fancy prayers—Jesus has some words for those folk:
Matthew 6:7 NIV
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
There is the trouble of praying to impress—Jesus has some words for those folk, too:
Matthew 6:5 NIV
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
There is trouble in praying flippantly, without having grounded yourself, without understanding whose you are.
David takes special care in his prayer. He mentions right out the gate his position before God.
The first part of the first verse:
“Lord my God, I take refuge in you...”
The tense of the verb is actually past. He’s saying: “I have taken refuge in you; In Thee I do trust.”
This is not something new for David. David isn’t now, all of a sudden, because of whatever’s going on with Cush just now turning to God, taking refuge is God.
The verb is in the past tense, indicating that David has placed himself in the care and under the protection of God at some point in the past—some time before this latest round of trouble.
And this—to be under the shelter of the Lord’s mighty wings—is a really good place to be. It’s a comfort. It’s an assurance. The Lord is a refuge for His people. It’s as Jude, the half-brother of Jesus says:
Jude 1 NIV
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
This is our position—we are called, loved, and kept by the Triune God. And what can be any more safe than that? From Him, nothing can separate us.
So it is with David. And so it is with us.
No matter what we face, we know that we are positioned with the Lord, that He is caring for us, looking out for us, holding onto us.
No doubt about it, though, for all the assurance he has in the Lord, David is in a great deal of trouble.
Pursuers dog his tracks, threatening to tear him limb from limb, ripping him to pieces. It’s an ugly, messy picture.
Without the Lord, his God, his Refuge, there is no hope for David. Only the Lord can save and deliver. David is in real danger, but for the Lord.
David’s keeping a careful watch on his prayer; his lays out his conscience before the Lord.
David wants it on the record that he is innocent of whatever Cush, the Benjamite is accusing him of.
David begins: “If I have done this...”—this being whatever Cush is claiming he did.
“If I have done this…if there is guilt on my hands…if I have repaid my ally with evil…if I have robbed my foe without cause…if I’ve done this then let my enemy pursue me and overtake me, let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.”
David is using a classic curse formula (If I have…then…) as a way of asserting his innocence of the charges. He’s emphatically denying any wrong action or hostility on his part has brought Cush to the point of doing whatever he did.
David’s not claiming perfection; he is simply claiming to be clear of responsibility for this bit of trouble.
David’s keeping a careful watch on his prayer, laying out his case, clearing his conscience before the Lord, because David knows something crucial to praying properly.
David knows he stands under the Almighty’s gaze and that God knows him truly and deeply and intimately.
We need to pray like David; we need to pray knowing God knows all—and all about us, especially.
Our attempts to hide ourselves from Him are like little kids who play hide-and-seek with their parents. Mom knows her kids are going to hide under the table 25 times in a row; the kids think it’s the most ingenious hideout of all time. The seeker has to pretend to not know where they are to make the game more fun than it actually is.
It’s laughable, really, that we do the same thing. We think we can hide ourselves, or part of who we are, from the All-Knowing, when really, to Him, we’re as poorly hidden as a giggly toddler in the same tired spot.
Hebrews 4:13 NIV
13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Let’s watch our prayer carefully—understanding our position, being honest with our situation, and fully aware that God knows us deeply and intimately.
We have Psalm 7 because the Holy Spirit knows we need to:

Get a Full Picture of God (Psalm 7:6-11)

Psalm 7:6–11 NIV
6 Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. 7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. 8 Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. 9 Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure— you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts. 10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.

Get a Full Picture of God (Psalm 7:6-11)

“God created man in His own image, and ever since man has returned the favor.”—Blaise Pascal
We have an idea of what we think God is like that is neither informed by the Bible nor anything other than our own imagination and desire.
Our picture of God owes more to Santa Claus and Aladdin’s Genie than it does the Bible: we like a ‘god’ on our terms, a ‘god’ who gives us whatever “we wants when we wants it”; a ‘god’ who requires nothing of us, a ‘god’ who is always nice and meek, a ‘god’ who is gentle and gives good gifts.
But we don’t need a God of our own imagination; we need the God who is, God in all His glory and might and strength and holiness.
When David is here in Psalm 7 crying out for justice, He doesn’t want some weak, ineffectual deity. He wants, He needs the ineffable, inexplicable, Holy and True God.
God—the God the Bible—is righteous; He’s righteously angry, righteously full of wrath. He’s the God of justice, a God who judges the wicked and the righteous, separating one from the other.
What David needs, what we need, is God on God’s terms, not God on our terms. We need the God who is, not the God of our collective imagination.
David—seeking justice—turns to the Lord who is gloriously angry.
There is hope in God’s anger. You see, if our enemies who are angry at us come up against a ‘god’ who is always kindly and soft and cuddly, we’re up a creek without a paddle.
But if our angry, hate-filled enemies come up against the God who is, if it’s their anger and strength against His anger and strength, well then, our enemies do not stand even the hint of a chance.
If the contest is Yahweh vs. Enemy, Yahweh wins every time.
There’s great hope in these verses—great hope for us in the anger, the justice, the judgment, the wrath of God.
These are not things to be embarrassed about; these are not things to hide. These are truths we should rejoice in, truths we should exalt in.
The doctrine of judgment brings hope to tired and battered servants of God.
David pleads with the Lord in verse 6:
Psalm 7:6 NIV
6 Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.
This is judgment already appointed by God.
The Lord will judge the peoples.
According to verse 7, all the peoples of the earth are gathered before the Lord who sits on His throne as judge over them all.
Paul preached this great truth to the Areopagus:
Acts 17:31 NIV
31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
If the judgment of God is not certain, if there is not a time when the Lord God will make all things right, we should just give up right now, just throw in the towel.
If evil people face no judgment, what makes their choice to murder and assault, to harm and abuse any different than your choice of cereal or oatmeal for breakfast?
If there’s no objective standard of right and wrong, if there is not One who will judge the wicked and the righteous, we have no hope of anything beyond this wicked, depraved, dark sinful world.
David has hope, and so should we, precisely because of Yahweh’s anger, precisely because God will decree justice; because He has appointed judgment.
Psalm 1—the prologue for the entire book of Psalms—makes clear that there is separation, a judgment made between the wicked and the righteous.
Psalm 1:6 NIV
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
David prays for just a taste of the judgment to come now to help him in his current situation.
In verse 8, he prays, “Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness.”
David is actually praying for the Lord to judge. He says “vindicate me” which is David asking for judgment—“Judge me; show me to be in the right in this Cush-the-Benjamite-matter.”
Having a full picture of who God is should cause us to pray to Him for the trouble, the evil, the wickedness of the world to come to an end. We should long to see the day where suffering is squashed, where abuse is abolished, where hatred is hanged by its neck, and all this by the God whose wrath is displayed every day.
You understand, don’t you, that when we see injustice or read about some injustice taking place around us or somewhere in the world, our righteous anger is only a tiny fraction of what God feels every day?
God does indeed display His wrath every day.
This makes some people uncomfortable. Some people say it isn’t so. But if this is not true, if God is not righteously angry, righteous in His wrath, you can take away any hope His wronged and suffering people have.
It’s good to have a full, Biblical picture of who God is. And Psalm 7 is meant to help us with that.
The Holy Spirit is going to help us

See How Judgment Works (Psalm 7:12-16)

Psalm 7:12–16 NIV
12 If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. 13 He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. 14 Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. 15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. 16 The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.

See How Judgment Works (Psalm 7:12-16)

Here in these verses, we get to watch judgment take place right before our eyes.
David paints God as a Warrior (remember the need for a full picture of who God is). God is a warrior, outfitted with sword and bow, with deadly weapons and flaming arrows.
This is a picture of God’s judgment upon the unrepentant.
If the enemy of the righteous does not repent, does not cease and desist, then the Lord Yahweh will sharpen His sword or bend and string his bow and take down the enemy of the righteous.
Notice the process that Yahweh’s judgment can take. The judgment in verses 14-16 might not seem as direct as the judgment in verses 12-13. It seems that wickedness may take some time to develop and show itself; it has a gestation period.
And then, after a time, judgment may come, “boomerang style”.
The wicked person who digs a hole and scoops out a pit is preparing a trap for someone else, he’s planning it for another, but the wicked ends up making a wrong move and falling in the pit.
The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.
Their downfall is not merely “how the world turns.” This is not simple cause and effect. This is not the outworking of some natural law.
Don’t think that this is karma (the only time the Christian should reference “karma” is when they’re singing “karma, karma, karma, karma, karma-chameleon”). We don’t believe in “karma”; we believe in divine judgment.
This is not karma; this is divine judgment. Behind the process of verses 15-16 stands the God of verses 12-13—it’s His arrows, His sword that “bring the wicked to wreck.”
The enemies of God’s people give way to their passion to persecute, their lust to eliminate His servants. But their plans, their wickedness, their depravity will be their downfall; the Lord will cut them down.
You understand how judgment works? It’s the work of the divine, just God. David cries out to God for justice, and David seems to know that God is indeed just and that His just judgment works—for His own glory and for the ultimate good of His people.
It’s this realization, this truth that moves David to praise. Even in the midst of whatever it is he’s going through, David makes sure not to forget praise.
The Holy Spirit wants us to make sure we

Don’t Forget Praise (Psalm 7:17)

Psalm 7:17 NIV
17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
It’s simple, short and sweet. It’s profound.
Knowing everything the Lord is, everything the Lord has done and will do for David and for the righteous, David doesn’t neglect praise.
David remembers to Whom praise is due.
Sadly, this is easy to forget, especially when we’re in the middle of something. Our focus is on a thousand other things and we forget what is important.
Years ago, the church replaced one of the exterior doors in our house with a steel door. It was an improvement in many ways over the door we had, but my favorite feature was that it was magnetic.
This meant I could write little notes to Meghann and affix them to the door with a magnet; we could put the grocery list on the door, appointments, and other reminders that would otherwise be easy to miss if they weren’t in our way to get out the door to the car.
Verse 17 is David’s note to himself—his personal post-it note not to forget the praise he will owe.
Whether in trouble or triumph, we never get away from praising the Lord. We must never forget praise.
>David, if he’s anything, is a pray-er. We find him praying all the time. It’s a common theme in his life. He’s praying. He knows who God is, who the Lord Yahweh is and how He operates.
He’s seeking justice so David prays to the Just God. David knows God is just, and so David appeals to His justice, to God’s unimpeachable sense of right.
It’s good that God is just—that He’s always in the right. God’s justice gives hope for vindication when we are in the right.
But, in the matter of eternal salvation, no one is right except Christ alone, and in Him we take refuge.
You see, apart from Christ, we are all in the wrong. The Just God is justly angry with us. His wrath is justly directed toward us.
Understand, friends, God is no hit man looking to kill those who are presently His enemies. God would much rather convert them than do away with them.
Herein is the Good News: God is just and the One who justifies.
God is just—perfectly right, all the time right; He is perfect in righteousness.
Just.
But He’s not just just. He’s not waiting for us to make ourselves right with Him. He is just. And He’s the One who makes us right; He’s the One who justifies those who belong by faith to Jesus Christ.
Let’s be sure to praise Him for His judgment, His just justice, for the fullness of who He is. And as we pray, would we remember that He is perfectly just, just as He has perfectly justified those who are united to His Son, Jesus.
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