Series on Psalms, Text: Psalm 7, Title: Remedy for Slander


The occasion of this Psalm is given in the superscription, A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Kish and the name of this Benjamite, Cush, is essentially the same as Saul’s Father. Since Saul was already jealous of David, it is quite evident that he would have credited the slanderous accusations of this kinsman who most likely accused David of plotting against Saul. This is called the song of the slandered saint. Slander is not an occasional thing. I Peter 2:23 says of Christ, when they hurled their insults at him he did not retaliate. Jesus said to his disciples, John 15:18, If the world hates you keep in mind it hated me first. If you belonged to the world it would love you as its own. if they persecuted me they will persecute you also and in 16:2, The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. The ancient theologian Tertullian tells about the trials of the early Christians. In the celebration of communion Christians were accused of cannibalism. They were charged with being rude and ignorant fools so that their enemies pictured the Christian God with an ass’s head and a book in his hand. They were accounted enemies of the state. They were indicted of being filthy lecherous people guilty of sexual immorality. They were said to rest on the Sabbath because they had some kind of strange disease. Cyprian of Carthage, another theologian of the ancient Church was nicknamed Coprion, which means a dung-gatherer. Slander always follows the faithful. But the word of God says, Isaiah 54:17, No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me. Although these words were written about 300 years after David’s time, David understood the truth expressed. He reveals his understanding in this prayer which includes the venue for his complaint, the vindication of his character, the vision of completion and the victory in his circumstances.

I The Venue of His Complaint

The effect of slander is usually demoralization or revenge. Given the awful damage that lies can do this is not strange. David pictures the experience graphically as only  Shepherd can in verses 1 and 2, O LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me. Those who pursue and persecute are like savage animals. Their words are like the teeth of the lion which descends upon the helpless sheep and tears it to pieces. Yet the venue of his complaint is to go immediately to God. “O Lord I take refuge in you.”  The only sure refuge from the slander of the wicked is in God Himself, because the Lord knows the heart and the Lord’s mercy is steadfast and sure. Rather than complain to others, or allow himself to descend into the ever deepening spiral of discontent, David goes to the Lord. The reason why this is a good idea will become apparent as we consider the vindication of David’s character.

II The Vindication of His Character

When slandered one must go to the Lord as David does because God knows the truth. He knows the difference between David and those who offend. In other words David is not asserting his innocence in an absolute way when he says in verses 3-5, O LORD my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands; if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or without cause have robbed my foe; then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust. He is simply pointing out that by contrast with those who libel and vilify him his cause is righteous. Thus by comparison and by contrast with his enemies David is righteous. But David also knows that he receives forgiveness and righteousness from God. So he is not being presumptuous here in his request for vindication. Remember he says I will take refuge in the Lord. He knows the Lord will receive him and the Lord loves him. When you and I are defamed and scandalized we must appeal to God. The man who knows that God loves and accepts him is a man who also knows that the lies of his enemies cannot ultimately harm him. Robert Cook former President of King’s College once went to the famous preacher Harry Ironsides and confided that he was being subjected to unfair criticism and slander. “What shall I do?” He asked. Harry Ironsides said, “Bob if it’s true, mend your ways, and if it isn’t true forget it.” It sounds rather simplistic, but it is exactly why the Bible teaches in I Peter 3:16 that we should be keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is the only thing one can do. God will vindicate either in time or eternity.

III The Vision of Completion

This is exactly what David has in view in his vision of completion. He pictures God ascending his throne of judgment. The Hebrew is go up! There is a total picture of a judgment scene in vss.6-9, Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples gather around you. Rule over them from on high; let the LORD judge the peoples. Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. Here David again pleads his integrity with regard to the slanderous assaults. He is comfortable with God judging. He pleads with God for relief because God alone knows the truth and furthermore, it is in the interest of God’s kingdom that He do this. Ultimately David did receive vindication in this life. It did require a good deal of patience. That’s why the Bible says wait for the Lord. But we must never lose this vision of completion.

IV The Victory in His Circumstances

In the closing verses, 10-17 we see David has achieved a kind of peace, My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day. If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.  I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. It is not the kind of peace the world gives. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 14 when He says that he is giving us peace “not as the world gives.” It is a peace of God’s perspective. David had a foretaste but we have greater peace since Christ has come. The realization of vs.12 and 13, leads to the praise of v.17. But there is in addition to this realization another compensation.  Verses 14,15 state that the slanderer cannot sin with impunity. The slanderer harms himself as well as the one he slanders. He throws stones at himself. Someone has said you can’t sink someone else’s boat and keep yours afloat. The slanderer falls into his own pit. Perhaps this is what Paul means when he quotes Proverbs 25:20,21 in Romans 12:19-21, Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Summary of Psalm 7

In Psalm 7 a relative of King Saul is slandering David by accusing him of plotting against Saul. David combats the evil tongue by fleeing to God for refuge. He pleads his innocence and calls upon God to rise up in judgment. David concludes with praise and thanks to God because God alone can humiliate the slanderer and vindicate his children. The persecuted find peace only by resting their cause with God.