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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–9
Verses 1–9

Shiggaion is a song or psalm (the word is used so only here and Hab. 3:1) --a wandering song (so some), the matter and composition of the several parts being different, but artificially put together—a charming song (so others), very delightful. David not only penned it, but sang it himself in a devout religious manner unto the Lord, concerning the words or affairs of Cush the Benjamite, that is, of Saul himself, whose barbarous usage of David bespoke him rather a Cushite, or Ethiopian, than a true-born Israelite. Or, more likely, it was some kinsman of Saul named Cush, who was an inveterate enemy to David, misrepresented him to Saul as a traitor, and (which was very needless) exasperated Saul against him, one of those children of men, children of Belial indeed, whom David complains of (1 Sam. 26:19), that made mischief between him and Saul. David, thus basely abused, has recourse to the Lord. The injuries men do us should drive us to God, for to him we may commit our cause. Nay, he sings to the Lord; his spirit was not ruffled by it, nor cast down, but so composed and cheerful that he was still in tune for sacred songs and it did not occasion one jarring string in his harp. Thus let the injuries we receive from men, instead of provoking our passions, kindle and excite our devotions. In Ps. 7:1-9,

I. He puts himself under God’s protection and flies to him for succour and shelter (Ps. 7:1): “Lord, save me, and deliver me from the power and malice of all those that persecute me, that they may not have their will against me.” He pleads, 1. His relation to God. “Thou art my God, and therefore whither else should I go but to thee? Thou art my God, and therefore my shield (Gen. 15:1), my God, and therefore I am one of thy servants, who may expect to be protected.” 2. His confidence in God: “Lord, save me, for I depend upon thee: In thee do I put my trust, and not in any arm of flesh.” Men of honour will not fail those that repose a trust in them, especially if they themselves have encouraged them to do so, which is our case. 3. The rage and malice of his enemies, and the imminent danger he was in of being swallowed up by them: “Lord, save me, or I am gone; he will tear my soul like a lion tearing his prey,” with so much pride, and pleasure, and power, so easily, so cruelly. St. Paul compares Nero to a lion (2 Tim. 4:17), as David here compares Saul. 4. The failure of all other helpers: “Lord, be thou pleased to deliver me, for otherwise there is none to deliver,” Ps. 7:2. It is the glory of God to help the helpless.

II. He makes a solemn protestation of his innocency as to those things whereof he was accused, and by a dreadful imprecation appeals to God, the searcher of hearts, concerning it, Ps. 7:3-5. Observe, in general, 1. When we are falsely accused by men it is a great comfort if our own consciences acquit us—

----- Hic murus aheneus esto, Nil conscire sibi. -------- Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence, Still to preserve thy conscious innocence.—and not only they cannot prove their calumnies (Acts 24:13), but our hearts can disprove them, to our own satisfaction. 2. God is the patron of wronged innocency. David had no court on earth to appeal to. His prince, who should have righted him, was his sworn enemy. But he had the court of heaven to fly to, and a righteous Judge there, whom he could call his God. And here see, (1.) What the indictment is which he pleads not guilty to. He was charged with a traitorous design against Saul’s crown and life, that he compassed and imagined to depose and murder him, and, in order to that, levied war against him. This he utterly denies. He never did this; there was no iniquity of this kind in his hand (Ps. 7:3); he abhorred the thought of it. He never rewarded evil to Saul when he was at peace with him, nor to any other, Ps. 7:4. Nay, as some think it should be rendered, he never rendered evil for evil, never did those mischief that had injured him. (2.) What evidence he produces of his innocency. It is hard to prove a negative, and yet this was a negative which David could produce very good proof of: I have delivered him that without cause is my enemy, Ps. 7:4. By this it appeared, beyond contradiction, that David had no design against Saul’s life—that, once and again, Providence so ordered it that Saul lay at his mercy, and there were those about him that would soon have dispatched him, but David generously and conscientiously prevented it, when he cut off his skirt (1 Sam. 24:4) and afterwards when he took away his spear (1 Sam. 26:12), to attest for him what he could have done. Saul himself owned both these to be undeniable proofs of David’s integrity and good affection to him. If we render good for evil, and deny ourselves the gratifications of our passion, our so doing may turn to us for a testimony, more than we think of, another day. (3.) What doom he would submit to if he were guilty (Ps. 7:5): Let the enemy persecute my soul to the death, and my good name when I am gone: let him lay my honour in the dust. This intimates, [1.] That, if he had been indeed injurious to others, he had reason to expect that they would repay him in the same coin. He that has his hand against every man must reckon upon it that every man’s hand will be against him. [2.] That, in that case, he could not with any confidence go to God and beg of him to deliver him or plead his cause. It is a presumptuous dangerous thing for any that are guilty, and suffer justly, to appeal to God, as if they were innocent and suffered wrongfully; such must humble themselves and accept the punishment of their iniquity, and not expect that the righteous God will patronise their unrighteousness. [3.] That he was abundantly satisfied in himself concerning his innocency. It is natural to us to wish well to ourselves; and therefore a curse to ourselves, if we swear falsely, has been thought as awful a form of swearing as any. With such an oath, or imprecation, David here ratifies the protestation of his innocency, which yet will not justify us in doing the like for every light and trivial cause; for the occasion here was important.

III. Having this testimony of his conscience concerning his innocency, he humbly prays to God to appear for him against his persecutors, and backs every petition with a proper plea, as one that knew how to order his cause before God.

1. He prays that God would manifest his wrath against his enemies, and pleads their wrath against him: “Lord, they are unjustly angry at me, be thou justly angry with them and let them know that thou art so, Ps. 7:6. In thy anger lift up thyself to the seat of judgment, and make thy power and justice conspicuous, because of the rage, the furies, the outrages (the word is plural) of my enemies.” Those need not fear men’s wrath against them who have God’s wrath for them. Who knows the power of his anger?

2. He prays that God would plead his cause.

(1.) He prays, Awake for me to judgment (that is, let my cause have a hearing), to the judgment which thou hast commanded; this speaks, [1.] The divine power; as he blesses effectually, and is therefore said to command the blessing, so he judges effectually, and is therefore said to command the judgment, which is such as none can countermand; for it certainly carries execution along with it. [2.] The divine purpose and promise: “It is the judgment which thou hast determined to pass upon all the enemies of thy people. Thou hast commanded the princes and judges of the earth to give redress to the injured and vindicate the oppressed; Lord, awaken thyself to that judgment.” He that loves righteousness, and requires it in others, will no doubt execute it himself. Though he seem to connive at wrong, as one asleep, he will awake in due time (Ps. 78:65) and will make it to appear that the delays were no neglects.

(2.) He prays (Ps. 7:7), “Return thou on high, maintain thy own authority, resume thy royal throne of which they have despised the sovereignty, and the judgment-seat of which they have despised the sentence. Return on high, that is, visibly and in the sight of all, that it may be universally acknowledged that heaven itself owns and pleads David’s cause.” Some make this to point at the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, who, when he returned to heaven (returned on high in his exalted state), had all judgment committed to him. Or it may refer to his second coming, when he shall return on high to this world, to execute judgment upon all. This return his injured people wait for, and pray for, and to it they appeal from the unjust censures of men.

(3.) He prays again (Ps. 7:8), “Judge me, judge for me, give sentence on my side.” To enforce this suit, [1.] He pleads that his cause was now brought into the proper court: The Lord shall judge the people, Ps. 7:8. He is the Judge of all the earth, and therefore no doubt he will do right and all will be obliged to acquiesce in his judgment. [2.] He insists upon his integrity as to all the matters in variance between him and Saul, and desires only to be judged, in this matter, according to his righteousness, and the sincerity of his heart in all the steps he had taken towards his preferment. [3.] He foretels that it would be much for the glory of God and the edification and comfort of his people if God would appear for him: “So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about; therefore do it for their sakes, that they may attend thee with their raises and services in the courts of thy house.” First, They will do it of their own accord. God’s appearing on David’s behalf, and fulfilling his promise to him, would be such an instance of his righteousness, goodness, and faithfulness, as would greatly enlarge the hearts of all his faithful worshippers and fill their mouths with praise. David was the darling of his country, especially of all the good people in it; and therefore, when they saw him in a fair way to the throne, they would greatly rejoice and give thanks to God; crowds of them would attend his footstool with their praises for such a blessing to their land. Secondly, If David come into power, as God has promised him, he will take care to bring people to church by his influence upon them, and the ark shall not be neglected, as it was in the days of Saul, 1 Chron. 13:3.

3. He prays, in general, for the conversion of sinners and the establishment of saints (Ps. 7:9): “O let the wickedness, not only of my wicked enemies, but of all the wicked, come to an end! but establish the just.” Here are two things which everyone of us must desire and may hope for:—(1.) The destruction of sin, that it may be brought to an end in ourselves and others. When corruption is mortified, when every wicked way and thought are forsaken, and the stream which ran violently towards the world and the flesh is driven back and runs towards God and heaven, then the wickedness of the wicked comes to an end. When there is a general reformation of manners, when atheists and profane are convinced and converted, when a stop is put to the spreading of the infection of sin, so that evil men proceed no further, their folly being made manifest, when the wicked designs of the church’s enemies are baffled, and their power is broken, and the man of sin is destroyed, then the wickedness of the wicked comes to an end. And this is that which all that love God, and for his sake hate evil, desire and pray for. (2.) The perpetuity of righteousness: But establish the just. As we pray that the bad maybe made good, so we pray that the good may be made better, that they may not be seduced by the wiles of the wicked nor shocked by their malice, that they may be confirmed in their choice of the ways of God and in their resolution to persevere therein, may be firm to the interests of God and religion and zealous in their endeavours to bring the wickedness of the wicked to an end. His plea to enforce this petition is, For the righteous God trieth the hearts and the reins; and therefore he knows the secret wickedness of the wicked and knows how to bring it to an end, and the secret sincerity of the just he is witness to and has secret ways of establishing.

As far as we have the testimony of an unbiased conscience for us that in any instance we are wronged and injuriously reflected on, we may, in singing Ps. 7:1-9, lodge our appeal with the righteous God, and be assured that he will own our righteous cause, and will one day, in the last day at furthest, bring forth our integrity as the light.