Theme: David’s Growing Intensity
In this week’s lessons we see how David dealt with the anguish of being unjustly accused, and learn the need to leave our own mistreatment with the Lord, trusting him to act justly.
Scripture: Psalm 7:1-17
If you have been paying close attention to the psalms preceding Psalm 7 and have been comparing them, you may have noticed a growth in the intensity of feeling on David’s part. The first two psalms are introductory and are not by David, so far as we know. But the next ones, indeed, almost all the psalms in the psalter’s first division (Psalms 1-41), are by David, and it is the earliest of these that show the growth I am talking about.
Psalm 3 is a prayer for deliverance, apparently from physical or military danger. This was a serious danger, but the psalmist was not in any great distress about it. Instead he shows quiet confidence in God. It is called a morning psalm, because David says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me” (v. 5). Psalm 4 is an evening psalm. In this psalm David is distressed. It is true that he comes to a condition of trust and peace, but this is only at the psalm’s end. Psalm 5 is filled with expressions of intense sighing and cries for God’s help (v. 1), and David’s enemies are described as, not merely political foes, but rather as those who “do wrong” and “tell lies.” They are “bloodthirsty and deceitful men” (vv. 5, 6). By Psalm 6 the psalmist is in deep personal anguish (vv. 2, 3). He says that he is worn out from his groaning and weeping that last throughout the night (vv. 6, 7).
Psalm 7 is the longest psalm thus far, and in it David is so overcome with his enemies’ injustice that he cries out for divine vindication: “Awake, my God; decree justice” (v. 6).
The specific details of David’s problem are alluded to in the psalm’s title, which describes it as a lament sung “to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite.” We have no other information about Cush, but the fact that he was from the tribe of Benjamin fits well with what we know of the opposition David faced from this tribe. David’s predecessor, King Saul, was a Benjamite. So when Saul was killed by the Philistines and David became king of Israel, a process that spanned nearly eight years, it was natural that the new king’s chief source of opposition was this tribe.
It seems to have lasted for a long time, too. For when David was forced to flee Jerusalem years later on the occasion of his son Absalom’s rebellion, a man named Shimei of Benjamin cursed him as he left the city. He accused David of being a “man of blood” and a “scoundrel.” He cried out, “The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned” (2 Sam. 16:7, 8). Still later, when David had returned to Jerusalem after Absalom’s death and the defeat of his armies, another Benjamite named Sheba led a revolt against him (2 Sam. 20:1, 2). Neither of these men can be identified with the Cush of Psalm 7, but it is easy to understand how the slander described in the psalm could have emerged from the smoldering hostility of this tribe.
In what sense does Psalm 7 reflect an intensity of King David’s feelings?
What are the historical circumstances behind this psalm?
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