It seems like in these beginning psalms we have some explanation to do in order to clarify some terms that are used which simply are not a part or our normal vocabulary. The term we find used in the introduction to the psalm is this word “shiggaion”. It is again another one of those terms whose definition is not completely clear. We find it used also in Habakkuk 3:1 which is an introductory phrase just like what we find in Psalm 7. The best scholarship tells us that a shiggaion refers to a meditation. A meditation which in this case we might find king David in thought and in prayer in regards to the life situation in which he finds himself. Again, the historical context is important. We think we find ourselves in a time when David has been anointed as King but not yet made it on the throne. King Saul is still in power and some of his followers, like Cush from the tribe of Benjamin, is accusing and pursuing David because he feels that he is being disloyal. That doesn’t seem too far fetched. King David, the writer of the psalms, is not yet king, but about to be. The king in power, Saul, has allies and they are accusing David of being disloyal.
On to the psalm. So we live in an age where the word terrorist strikes fear in many hearts. I think back to just 16 years ago when if we used the word terrorist it didn’t have any meaning which we thought might affect us. We traveled freely, didn’t have our eye on people in a crowd, didn’t pay attention to bags that might be lying around unattended. When I read through this psalm I think of the fear which David was facing as he was hiding out in caves never knowing if someone was targeting him from some obscure place. He cries out to God to deliver him and to provide him refuge.
He goes on to ask God that if there is any wrong in him, that God would eliminate that from his life. Now, that’s an interesting transition. To go from God save my life from those who are looking to kill me to, oh, and while you are at it, can you eliminate the sin in my life? I know that I’m not perfect and since you are around putting a hedge of protection around me, can you also get rid of those bad habits which have plagued me my entire life? Can I have a two for one?
One fear that I have for us as we read these psalms is that we might put ourselves in the position of the psalmist where our self-righteousness seems to monopolize our words. We should never find ourselves in a position where we think that we are the righteous and in no way do we represent the evil or the wicked and so God is always on our side. I wish that were the case. David does seem to present himself in that light. But let’s be realistic that at times we are the ones pursuing the righteous, we are the ones who don’t allow the downtrodden to have a voice, we are the ones who dig our own holes and have a hard time digging out. But every now and then we can take our side next to David and be glad that God has blessed us and we know it. It is good to have balance.