Friday, August 14, 2015

Trusting the LORD for Global Justice: Learning to Pray Psalm 7

Lord my God, I take refuge in you;
    save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
    and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
Lord my God, if I have done this
    and there is guilt on my hands—
if I have repaid my ally with evil
    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.
Arise, Lord, in your anger;
    rise up against the rage of my enemies.
    Awake, my God; decree justice.
Let the assembled peoples gather around you,
    while you sit enthroned over them on high.
    Let the Lord judge the peoples.
Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
    according to my integrity, O Most High.
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. (NIV)

 Psalm 7 will mark a transition in our journey through Book 1 of the psalter. Like Psalms 3–6, it offers another lament for deliverance from enemies, but as we will see Psalm 7 broadens into a vision for global justice (vv. 9–16) and ends with a vow to offer thanksgiving and praise to the LORD (v. 17).

The psalmist opens with a clear statement of trust as well as a plea for help (1–2). Trouble is near (again!) so there is only one response for the psalmist: turn immediately to the only one who can protect and save—the LORD.  The psalmist asks for deliverance from ravaging enemies whom he likens to a pride of lions. The psalmist grounds his request in recognizing the LORD as his refuge but also adamantly proclaims his personal innocence. In verses 3–5, the psalmist is bold in his prayer. God should respond immediately with deliverance because of the psalmist’s innocence. In fact, the psalmist asks God to allow his enemies to kill him (v. 5) if he is in fact guilty of any injustice. Wow. Reflect on this for a few moments. What kind of person do I need to become to pray Psalm 7 with such confidence?

In verses 6–8, the psalmist makes direct requests for salvation. The assumption is that he is indeed innocent. Therefore, God should act and must act. This is prayer at its best. Prayer assumes a dynamic relationship between God and the one praying. We can present ourselves openly and honestly to God and hold nothing back in the assumption that God will hear us and respond.

Remarkably, given the predicament of the psalmist, the psalmist expands the scope of the prayer to include all who are innocent (vv. 9–16). The psalmist imagines a world marked by the rule of justice and the end of injustice. The psalmist begs God to act against those who practice evil and injustice against those who seek to live rightly in love for God and neighbor.

The psalmist trusts that God is a warrior who will protect the innocent from those with ill intentions. Notice that the psalmist relinquishes all vengeance to God rather than taking action himself. The psalmist expects and awaits God’s righteous actions to establish justice.

Verse 17 ends the psalm with a vow of thanksgiving and praise of the LORD who reigns from on high. This vow will be fulfilled in Psalm 8 which begins, “O LORD our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Thanksgiving and praise is fitting for the LORD who is righteous and acts on behalf. Gratitude is a critical response to God’s graciousness and keeps us mindful of God’s ongoing work in our lives.

How does Psalm 7 teach us to pray?

How does the psalmist view of God’s righteous actions encourage us in our times of need?

What role does thanksgiving and praise play in your life of faith?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

No comments:

Post a Comment