Matthew Henry Complete CommentaryPsalms 7
on the Whole Bible
It appears by the title that this psalm was penned with a particular
reference to the malicious imputations that David was unjustly laid
under by some of his enemies. Being thus wronged,
I. He applies to God for favour,
II. He appeals to God concerning his innocency as to those things
whereof he was accused,
III. He prays to God to plead his cause and judge for him against his
IV. He expresses his confidence in God that he would do so, and would
return the mischief upon the head of those that designed it against him,
V. He promises to give God the glory of his deliverance,
In this David was a type of Christ, who was himself, and still is in
his members, thus injured, but will certainly be righted at last.
|David Prays Against His Enemies; Prayer for Sinners and Saints.
Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the words
of Cush the Benjamite.
1 O LORD my God, in thee do I
put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and
2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces,
while there is none to deliver.
3 O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in
4 If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me;
(yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
5 Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him
tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the
6 Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the
rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that
thou hast commanded.
7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about:
for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
8 The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according
to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in
9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but
establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and
Shiggaion is a song or psalm (the word is used so
only here and
--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
(1 Samuel 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
I. He puts himself under God's protection and flies to him for succour
"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
my God, and therefore I am one of thy servants, who may expect to be
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 Timothy 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,"
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,
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
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
he abhorred the thought of it. He never rewarded evil to Saul
when he was at peace with him, nor to any other,
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
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 Samuel 24:4)
and afterwards when he took away his spear
(1 Samuel 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
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
[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
[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,
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
[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
and will make it to appear that the delays were no neglects.
(2.) He prays
"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
"Judge me, judge for me, give sentence on my side." To enforce
[1.] He pleads that his cause was now brought into the proper court:
The Lord shall judge the people,
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 Chronicles 13:3.
3. He prays, in general, for the conversion of sinners and the
establishment of saints
"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
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
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.
10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the
wicked every day.
12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his
bow, and made it ready.
13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he
ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
14 Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived
mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch
which he made.
16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent
dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and
will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
David having lodged his appeal with God by prayer and a solemn
profession of his integrity, in the former part of the psalm, in this
latter part does, as it were, take out judgment upon the appeal, by
faith in the word of God, and the assurance it gives of the happiness
and safety of the righteous and the certain destruction of wicked
people that continue impenitent.
I. David is confident that he shall find God his powerful protector and
Saviour, and the patron of his oppressed innocency
"My defence is of God. Not only, God is my defender, and I shall
find him so; but I look for defence and safety in no other; my hope for
shelter in a time of danger is placed in God alone; if I have defence,
it must be of God." My shield is upon God (so some read it);
there is that in God which gives an assurance of protection to all that
are his. His name is a strong tower,
Two things David builds this confidence upon:--
1. The particular favour God has for all that are sincere: He saves
the upright in heart, saves them with an everlasting salvation, and
therefore will preserve them to his heavenly kingdom; he saves
them out of their present troubles, as far as is good for them; their
integrity and uprightness will preserve them. The upright in heart are
safe, and ought to think themselves so, under the divine protection.
2. The general respect he has for justice and equity: God judgeth
the righteous; he owns every righteous cause, and will maintain it
in every righteous man, and will protect him. God is a righteous
Judge (so some read it), who not only doeth righteousness himself,
but will take care that righteousness be done by the children of men
and will avenge and punish all unrighteousness.
II. He is no less confident of the destruction of all his persecutors,
even as many of them as would not repent, to give glory to God.
He reads their doom here, for their good, if possible, that they might
cease from their enmity, or, however, for his own comfort, that he
might not be afraid of them nor aggrieved at their prosperity and
success for a time. He goes into the sanctuary of God, and there
1. That they are children of wrath. They are not to be envied, for God
is angry with them, is angry with the wicked every day. They are
every day doing that which is provoking to him, and he resents it, and
treasures it up against the day of wrath. As his mercies are new
every morning towards his people, so his anger is new every morning
against the wicked, upon the fresh occasions given for it by their
renewed transgressions. God is angry with the wicked even in the
merriest and most prosperous of their days, even in the days of their
devotion; for, if they be suffered to prosper, it is in wrath; if they
pray, their very prayers are an abomination. The wrath of God abides
and continual additions are made to it.
2. That they are children of death, as all the children of wrath are,
sons of perdition, marked out for ruin. See their destruction.
(1.) God will destroy them. The destruction they are reserved for is
destruction from the Almighty, which ought to be a terror to
every one of us, for it comes from the wrath of God,
It is here intimated,
[1.] That the destruction of sinners may be prevented by their
conversion, for it is threatened with that proviso: If he turn
not from his evil way, if he do not let fall his enmity against the
people of God, then let him expect it will be his ruin; but, if he
turn, it is implied that his sin shall be pardoned and all shall be
well. Thus even the threatenings of wrath are introduced with a
gracious implication of mercy, enough to justify God for ever in the
destruction of those that perish; they might have turned and lived, but
they chose rather to go on and die and their blood is therefore upon
their own heads.
[2.] That, if it be not thus prevented by the conversion of the sinner,
it will be prepared for him by the justice of God. In general
He has prepared for him the instruments of death, of all that
death which is the wages of sin. If God will slay, he will not want
instruments of death for any creature; even the least and weakest may
be made so when he pleases. First, Here is variety of
instruments, all which breathe threatenings and slaughter. Here is a
sword, which wounds and kills at hand, a bow and arrows, which wound
and kill at a distance those who think to get out of the reach of God's
vindictive justice. If the sinner flees from the iron weapon,
yet the bow of steel shall strike him through,
Secondly, These instruments of death are all said to be made
ready. God has them not to seek, but always at hand. Judgments are
prepared for scorners. Tophet is prepared of old. Thirdly, While
God is preparing his instruments of death, he gives the sinners timely
warning of their danger, and space to repent and prevent it. He is slow
to punish, and long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any
should perish. Fourthly, The longer the destruction is delayed, to
give time for repentance, the sorer will it be and the heavier will it
fall and lie for ever if that time be not so improved; while God is
waiting the sword is in the whetting and the bow in the drawing.
Fifthly, The destruction of impenitent sinners, though it come
slowly, yet comes surely; for it is ordained, they are of old
ordained to it. Sixthly, Of all sinners persecutors are set up
as the fairest marks of divine wrath; against them, more than any
other, God has ordained his arrows. They set God at defiance, but
cannot set themselves out of the reach of his judgments.
(2.) They will destroy themselves,
The sinner is here described as taking a great deal of pains to ruin
himself, more pains to damn his soul than, if directed aright, would
save it. His conduct is described,
[1.] By the pains of a labouring woman that brings forth a false
The sinner's head with its politics conceives mischief,
contrives it with a great deal of art, lays the plot deep, and keeps it
close; the sinner's heart with its passions travails with
iniquity, and is in pain to be delivered of the malicious projects
it is hatching against the people of God. But what does it come to when
it comes to the birth? It is falsehood; it is a cheat upon himself; it
is a lie in his right hand. He cannot compass what he intended, nor, if
he gain his point, will he gain the satisfaction he promised himself.
He brings forth wind
that is, falsehood.
[2.] By the pains of a labouring man that works hard to dig a pit, and
then falls into it and perishes in it. First, This is true, in
a sense of all sinners. They prepare destruction for themselves by
preparing themselves for destruction, loading themselves with guilt and
submitting themselves to their corruptions. Secondly, It is
often remarkably true of those who contrive mischief against the people
of God or against their neighbours; by the righteous hand of God it is
made to return upon their own heads. What they designed for the
shame and destruction of others proves to be their own confusion.
|--------------------- Nec lex est jusitior ulla
Quam necis artifices arte perire sua ---------
There is not a juster law than that the author
of a murderous contrivance shall perish by it.
Some apply it to Saul, who fell upon his sword.
In singing this psalm we must do as David here does
praise the Lord according to his righteousness, that is, give
him the glory of that gracious protection under which he takes his
afflicted people and of that just vengeance with which he will pursue
those that afflict them. Thus we must sing to the praise of the Lord
most high, who, when his enemies deal proudly, shows that he is above