A Meditation of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite.
1 O Lord my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
2 Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
4 If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
5 Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust.
6 Arise, O Lord, in Your anger;
Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies;
Rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!
7 So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You;
For their sakes, therefore, return on high.
8 The Lord shall judge the peoples;
Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness,
And according to my integrity within me.
9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
But establish the just;
For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
10 My defense is of God,
Who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.
17 I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
This is the first imprecatory psalm.
meditation (intro) — an obscure Hebrew word probably meaning an ecstatic song, although it’s not clear if this is a reference to its ragged, irregular meter, the method in which it is to be sung or the fact that is is a highly emotionally-charged psalm.
Cush (intro) — not mentioned elsewhere — probably referring to one of Saul’s men sent to kill David (or to Saul himself, a Benjamite). Phrases in the psalm parallel passages in 1 Samuel 24 and 25 when David was cornered by Saul and his men.
if (3x in vs.3-4) — David is willing to be punished if he has done wrong.
integrity (v.8) — David does not believe he deserves punishment in this case.
It is important to note that David does not expect God to vindicate him completely, but only according to his righteousness and the integrity that is in him (v.8). David also affirms that it is not only — or even firstly — men’s actions that God judges, but also their hearts and minds (v.9) — the thoughts and motives that underlie one’s actions, whether good or bad. This important principle is also affirmed by Solomon, who states with respect to the “selfish man” that “as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). — Wechsler, page 37
hearts and minds (v.9) = lit. “kidneys” — man’s entire immaterial being
the wicked (v.14) — here described as a pregnant woman giving birth
David affirms the well-attested biblical principle that the mischief of the wicked ultimately returns upon his own head (v.16) — a principle which is vividly attested in connection with Israel’s enemies, upon whom God not only visits judgment, but often does so with the same affliction wherewith they afflicted Israel (e.g., His diminishing of Egypt’s military might by drowning, just as Pharaoh sought to diminish Israel’s ability to make war by drowning all their male children (Exodus 1:10); Haman executed by hanging in place of Mordecai (Esther 7:10), etc.) — Wechsler, pages 37-38
Most High (v.17) — a name for deity — it first occurs in Genesis 14:18-22, the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek.
David ends his petition by expressing gratitude and praise for whatever God chooses to do, for whatever that will be, it will be what it should, consistent with God’s perfect righteousness. Indeed, God chose not to resolve David’s persecution by Saul for several years more, encompassing that period between the events in this psalm alludes to in 1 Samuel (chapters 24 and 26) and David finally being anointed as “king over Israel” in 2 Samuel 5:3). — Wechsler, page 38