New English Translation
A musical composition[b] by David, which he sang to the Lord concerning[c] a Benjaminite named Cush.[d]
7 O Lord my God, in you I have taken shelter.[e]
Deliver me from all who chase me. Rescue me!
2 Otherwise they will rip[f] me[g] to shreds like a lion;
they will tear me to bits and no one will be able to rescue me.[h]
3 O Lord my God, if I have done what they say,[i]
or am guilty of unjust actions,[j]
4 or have wronged my ally,[k]
or helped his lawless enemy,[l]
5 may an enemy relentlessly chase[m] me[n] and catch me;[o]
may he trample me to death[p]
and leave me lying dishonored in the dust.[q] (Selah)
6 Stand up angrily,[r] Lord.
Rise up with raging fury against my enemies.[s]
Wake up for my sake, and execute the judgment you have decreed for them.[t]
7 The countries are assembled all around you;[u]
take once more your rightful place over them.[v]
8 The Lord judges the nations.[w]
Vindicate me, Lord, because I am innocent,[x]
because I am blameless,[y] O Exalted One.[z]
9 May the evil deeds of the wicked[aa] come to an end.[ab]
But make the innocent[ac] secure,[ad]
O righteous God,
you who examine[ae] inner thoughts and motives.[af]
10 The Exalted God is my shield,[ag]
the one who delivers the morally upright.[ah]
11 God is a just judge;
he is angry throughout the day.[ai]
12 If a person[aj] does not repent, God will wield his sword.[ak]
He has prepared to shoot his bow.[al]
13 He has prepared deadly weapons to use against him;[am]
he gets ready to shoot flaming arrows.[an]
14 See the one who is pregnant with wickedness,
who conceives destructive plans,
and gives birth to harmful lies—
15 he digs a pit[ao]
and then falls into the hole he has made.[ap]
16 He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans[aq]—
and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head.[ar]
17 I will thank the Lord for[as] his justice;
I will sing praises to the Lord Most High![at]
- Psalm 7:1 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.
- Psalm 7:1 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.
- Psalm 7:1 tn Or “on account of.”
- Psalm 7:1 sn Apparently this individual named Cush was one of David’s enemies.
- Psalm 7:1 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form probably refers here to a completed action with continuing results.
- Psalm 7:2 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.
- Psalm 7:2 tn Heb “my life.” The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3.
- Psalm 7:2 tn Heb “tearing and there is no one rescuing.” The verbal form translated “tearing” is a singular active participle.
- Psalm 7:3 tn Heb “if I have done this.”
- Psalm 7:3 tn Heb “if there is injustice in my hands.” The “hands” figuratively suggest deeds or actions.
- Psalm 7:4 tn Heb “if I have repaid the one at peace with me evil.” The form שׁוֹלְמִי (sholemi, “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.
- Psalm 7:4 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 (tsoreri, “my enemy”) to צוֹרְרוֹ (tsorero, “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.
- Psalm 7:5 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.
- Psalm 7:5 tn Heb “my life.” The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3.
- Psalm 7:5 tn Heb “and may he overtake.” The prefixed verbal form is distinctly jussive. The object “me,” though unexpressed, is understood from the preceding statement.
- Psalm 7:5 tn Heb “and may he trample down to the earth my life.”
- Psalm 7:5 tn Heb “and my honor in the dust may he cause to dwell.” The prefixed verbal form is distinctly jussive. Some emend כְבוֹדִי (khevodi, “my honor”) to כְבֵדִי (khevedi, “my liver” as the seat of life), but the term כְבוֹדִי (khevodi) is to be retained since it probably refers to the psalmist’s dignity or honor.
- Psalm 7:6 tn Heb “in your anger.”
- Psalm 7:6 tn Heb “Lift yourself up in the angry outbursts of my enemies.” Many understand the preposition prefixed to עַבְרוֹת (ʿavrot, “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.
- Psalm 7:6 tc Heb “Wake up to me [with the] judgment [which] you have commanded.” The LXX understands אֵלִי (ʾeliy, “my God”) instead of אֵלַי (ʾelay, “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.
- Psalm 7:7 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.”
- Psalm 7:7 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.
- Psalm 7:8 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).
- Psalm 7:8 tn Heb “judge me, O Lord, according to my innocence.”
- Psalm 7:8 tn Heb “according to my blamelessness.” The imperative verb translated “vindicate” governs the second line as well.
- Psalm 7:8 tn The Hebrew form עָלָי (ʿalay) has been traditionally understood as the preposition עַל (ʿal, “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 (ʿalah, “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.
- Psalm 7:9 tn In the psalms the Hebrew term רְשָׁעִים (reshaʿim, “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.
- Psalm 7:9 tn The prefixed verbal form is a jussive, expressing an imprecation here.
- Psalm 7:9 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.
- Psalm 7:9 tn The prefixed verbal form expresses the psalmist’s prayer or wish.
- Psalm 7:9 tn For other uses of the verb in this sense, see Job 7:18; Pss 11:4; 26:2; 139:23.
- Psalm 7:9 tn Heb “and [the one who] tests hearts and kidneys, righteous 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.
- Psalm 7:10 tn Traditionally, “my shield is upon God” (cf. NASB). As in v. 8, עַל (ʿal) 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.
- Psalm 7:10 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).
- Psalm 7:11 tn Heb “God (the divine name אֵל [ʾel] is used) is angry during all the day.” The verb זֹעֵם (zoʿem) 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.
- Psalm 7:12 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).
- Psalm 7:12 tn Heb “if he does not return, his sword he wields.” The referent (God) of the pronominal subject of the second verb (“sharpens”) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The verb לָטַשׁ (latash) appears only five times in the Bible. It is typically taken as a reference to sharpening, as in 1 Sam 13:20. But the meaning “wield” known from Ugaritic, a close cognate language, seems to fit the context better. The following verbs describe past actions of having gotten instruments prepared for battle. It is more consistent with that setting to picture God taking his sword and swinging it as a final act of preparation or as an immediate threat.
- Psalm 7:12 tn Heb “his bow he has stepped [on] and prepared it.” “Treading the bow” involved stepping on one end of it in order to bend and string it and thus prepare it for battle. The verbs are a perfect and a preterite, thus referring to past action.
- Psalm 7:13 tn Heb “and for him he has prepared the weapons of death.”
- Psalm 7:13 tn Heb “his arrows into flaming [things] he makes.” The verb is a prefixed form and understood as an imperfect. As a parallel to the first verb in the series, יִלְטֹשׁ (yiltosh; he will wield), it describes a final act of preparation or the beginning of engaging in battle. It is also possible that the form is a preterite and should be understood as past tense, like the preceding perfect and preterite verbs.
- Psalm 7:15 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.
- Psalm 7:15 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.
- Psalm 7:16 tn Heb “his harm [i.e., the harm he conceived for others, see v. 14] returns on his head.”
- Psalm 7:16 tn Heb “and on his forehead his violence [i.e., the violence he intended to do to others] comes down.”
- Psalm 7:17 tn Heb “according to.”
- Psalm 7:17 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, ʿelyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Ps 47:2.