The vivid start of this psalm expresses the extreme vulnerability David felt and, his sense of ‘there is nowhere else to go!’
David knew what it was like to fight a lion. He tells Saul, in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, he has rescued lambs from both bears and lions while tending his father’s flocks. The ‘ripping and tearing apart’ (Ps7:2) are something that he can visualise very clearly.
Somehow David has escaped his pursuer and seems to be peering out from behind his protector. But, he senses the hunt is still on, the lion is getting nearer, and his prayer is ‘Lord, if you don’t protect, they will rip me to pieces, there is no one else’.
The pursuit is single-minded and determined; Cush the Benjamite (an otherwise unknown character) was apparently not going to give up and the effect of his actions will be catastrophic.
David’s emotions are ‘all over the place’. The introduction to the Psalm uses a strange and unfamiliar term shiggaion which conveys a Dithyrambic rhythm; or wild passionate song. Dithyrambic rhythm also has links to hymns sung to the Greek god of wine. The implication is David is somehow out of his mind (drunk) with fear. But, David is certain of his own innocence and also God’s ability to help, “Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.” “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.”
David was a loyal and effective servant to an insecure and failing king (Saul).
Whatever the reason for the sense of persecution we feel at times, God is our shield and protector. We can be confident that he knows what is going on and we can ‘take refuge in him’ as David did.
A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.
1 Lord my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
2 or they will tear me apart like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
3 Lord my God, if I have done this
and there is guilt on my hands—
4 if I have repaid my ally with evil
or without cause have robbed my foe—
5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me;
let him trample my life to the ground
and make me sleep in the dust.
6 Arise, Lord, in your anger;
rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.
7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you,
while you sit enthroned over them on high.
8 Let the Lord judge the peoples.
Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High.
9 Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure—
you, the righteous God
who probes minds and hearts.
10 My shield is God Most High,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
a God who displays his wrath every day.
12 If he does not relent,
he will sharpen his sword;
he will bend and string his bow.
13 He has prepared his deadly weapons;
he makes ready his flaming arrows.
14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
New International Version(NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Lord, I feel ‘hounded’ on every side. There are people who want to destroy me but I am making you my ‘hiding place’. Please protect me because, without your help, I will be torn apart.
You know what is in my mind and heart. There is nothing that is hidden from you. If, somehow, I am guilty please show me. I am not trying to avoid responsibility. Lord please bring the truth to light and treat me based on what is true.
Lord the accusations really hurt but, I choose to give you thanks and trust you to lead me forward as I seek to serve you.