A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.
1 O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
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3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.
8 The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.
12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.
17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
Today, the Internet is full of gossip and hearsay. People are interested in the scandals or family disputes of celebrities, in information that makes them feel good and morally superior. Language, which was originally meant to express love, has become a tool with which to accuse one other, a bloodless knife.
When God questioned Adam after he disobeyed and ate the fruit of the tree, how did Adam answer? He said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Although it seems Adam was just stating a fact, his heart was evil. Ultimately, he blamed God: “If you hadn’t given me this woman, this would not have happened.” Eve did the same, saying the serpent had seduced her. In the biblical account, God did not bother to ask the serpent.
Yet I wonder – if God had asked the snake, what would the snake say? Would he consider himself innocent? Would he accuse Adam and Eve? I think so, because Adam and Eve learned accusation from him. The New Testament teaches that this serpent, Satan, who accuses believers before God day and night, is a slanderer, a liar, a tempter, a sinner, and a ruler of death. He is an enemy of God and resists God’s truth.
Our Enemy Is the Devil
In Psalm 7 David (a righteous man with whom God is pleased) encounters this ancient enemy’s accusations and slander. David describes the enemy’s pursuit as if he were a lion seeking to tear him apart. This reminds us of Peter’s exhortation in the New Testament: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Gossip and slander pounce on us like a lion, leaving nowhere to turn, affecting our heart and all our social relationships. People are afraid of gossip, afraid they will become the scapegoat. David was one of those people at the center of all the attention. As a result, he encountered a lot of slander and malice.
Throughout his life, David was often in great distress and surrounded by enemies. In the midst of hardship, the enemy’s slander against David is that God is not pleased with him. God will not hear his prayers or save him, because David was evil. This is similar to slander we encounter: God is not pleased with you; you suffer because of sin, not righteousness; you are under God’s discipline; the house church is being persecuted so heavily today because of your faults! And guess what? It is not just the government who says this! Even many churches say this – doesn’t it make you shudder?
How do we respond to this slander? This psalm gives the way out. We do not respond by speaking to humans, for humans are not our enemy. Our enemy is the devil. We first turn to the living God, as David did: “O Lord my God!” (v. 1) We are to come to God and ask him to save us.
We also ought to come before God and make the case for our innocence: if I have done the thing others accuse me of; if I have sin on my hands; if I have treated my friends badly and robbed my enemies without reason, then let them judge. My own life and glory are nothing.
A Slandered Reputation and a Wrathful King
The first thing the enemy attacks is our reputation. Today, the charges we house churches face are of fraud, provocation, or of being cults. After the devil attacks our reputations, then he binds our bodies. We can pray like the psalmist (v. 3): “O God, if I really am defrauding others; if I really am provoking, if I am truly spreading a cult; if I am actually trying to build my kingdom on earth – if this is true, then let the enemy bind, chain, and disgrace me!”
Next, we see the wrath and judgment of the supreme Judge, even in the midst of the enemy’s wrath and judgment. A great King, who judges the whole earth, will stand up for David. This King is God, who sees the heart. This gives David comfort and hope. When gossip strikes or makes him doubt God’s righteousness, he sees the King and Judge, about to strike in wrath.
We often overlook God’s wrath, righteousness, and holiness. We are afraid to pray: “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.” (v. 8) Is it possible for us to be sinless before God? Does he see us as righteous? Unless we trust in Christ and have put on his righteousness, it is indeed terrible to fall into the hands of the living God.
After David saw God’s wrath, when he looked at the wicked, he no longer saw them as vicious lions. Instead, they were like women in the midst of childbirth, pregnant with poisonous falsehoods. The wicked are digging their own graves, binding themselves to sin and death. This bitter fruit is described in James: “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
The greatest damage to a church is when gossip begins to grow from within. When believers freely judge the pastor, the elders, and those who work in the church; and when believers freely doubt the brothers and sisters around them, the devil has succeeded. The faith of God’s children has been corrupted. We are in great danger when we spend greater effort judging others than in coming to God to judge ourselves. We can begin to think that our own troubles are due to the faults of others. After all, this is what our first parents did after the Fall.
God Is Pleased With Me
When we place all our faults on our spouses, parents, churches, institutions, or nations, we are actually putting these faults on the God who made us: “He is responsible!” Instead, we ought to fall on the ground and cry, “Lord, deliver me from the evil that besets me!” When the righteous encounter the unwarranted slander of the wicked and experience the harm of gossip, the righteous know that gossip itself cannot really harm. The harm comes when we begin to believe the gossip.
When we face false accusations or when the devil accuses us, saying we have not received God’s help or salvation, we can rebuke him. We can say: “You speak lies, but God is my God. Christ has cleansed me from all sin, and I am no longer in your debt. God is pleased with me. Satan, go away, for you will perish!”
Christ rebuked Satan saying that the devil understood only human will, not the will of the Lord. If we rely on Christ to understand God’s will, we can resist the slanders of the slanderer.
In times of persecution and hardship, when we are being chased by slander and gossip and are exiled from our homes, we can sing this song. As the psalmist did, we can open our mouths to praise: “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” (v. 17)
Brother Fan is a pseudonym for a preacher at an urban house church in southwest China.