A Cry Against Personal Injustice
Genre: Individual lament. Occasioned by a false accusation, the psalmist offers an "oath of cleansing" in the temple sanctuary (e.g., 1 Kgs 8:31-32). The lamenter seeks justice in the context of a false accusation.
I. Prayer for God's Righteousness (1-11).
A. The Appeal: "O Lord My God" (1-5).
1. Prayer for deliverance (1-2).
2. Oath of Innocence (3-5).
B. The Petition: Judicial Imprecation (6-11).
1. The Imperatives (6-8).
2. The Righteous God (9-11).
a. Petition (9).
b. Ground (10-11).
II. Praise of God's Righteousness (12-17).
A. Imprecation Against the Wicked (12-16).
1. The Oath Against the Wicked (12-13).
2. Pronouncement of the Wicked's Fate (14-16).
B. Vow of Praise (17).
Theme: The righteous God delivers the righteous from the false accusations of the wicked. The cognates of "righteous" are used five times (140 in the whole Psalter): three times in reference to God (7:9,11,17) and twice in reference to humanity (7:8,9; also "upright" in 7:10).
1. The accused turns to God as the righteous judge; he seeks God's sanctuary rather than personal vengeance.
2. The accused confesses his innocence ("not guilty" to the charge of his enemies). This is not self-righteousness, but integrity.
3. He petitions God as the righteous judge to establish his innocence and put an end to his enemies.
4. The call for God to "awake" draws upon the "sleeping God" metaphor of the ancient Near East. This metaphor denotes "the deity's absolute dominion over the heavens and the earth and the underworld" so that it reflects "Israel's active faith in Yahweh's universal rule even in the midst of gross injustice and manifest evil" (Batto, 164, 172).
5. He is confident that the distinction between the wicked and righteous will be revealed.
6. He vows to praise God's righteousness and name.
1. The prayer assumes a covenantal relationship between God and the accused. It is Yahweh, "my God" (7:1,3).
2. The accused asserts his loyalty to God's covenant; he asserts his integrity before God's covenant and invites God to test his heart.
3. The imprecation is rooted in God's righteousness as the one who saves the upright in heart.
4. God is active in his world to test the hearts of the righteous and destroy the wicked.
5. God's righteousness pursues evil through its own self-destructive character. God wars against the impenitent.
6. God is praised for his righteousness which exalts the righteous and destroys the wicked.
1. It is the prayer of all who have been unjustly accused.
2. It is an expression of anger against personal injustice by an appeal to the just God.
3. It offers us a biblical form through which to express our yearnings for justice, anger against injustice and our trust in God's righteousness.
1. Entrance into the Life of the Falsely Accused.
b. Empathy for the Falsely Accused.
c. A Vision of God's Righteousness.
2. The Dynamic Movement of the Psalm: What does this form give us?
a. Confession of Commitment to God's Righteousness.
b. Prayer for God's Righteousness in this Situation.
c. Confession of Trust in God's Righteousness.
3. Possible NT Application:
a. Endure hardship, knowing that "anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism" (Col. 3:25).
b. This is the example of Christ for "when they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Pet. 2:23).
4. Christologically, Jesus is the innocent one who deals with injustice. He defeats it; so we find our justice in the one who offered himself, and we leave its eschatological judgment to him.
5. Blessing: Despite the injustices done to us, we pray for our persecutors that they may see God's face and repent. God seeks them, and we ought to love them. But we still pray for God's justice to be revealed in the world (for the will of God to done on earth as it is heaven).
Homiletic Point: When you are falsely accused, turn your righteous indignation over to the righteous judge, your God.