Today’s passage: Psalm 7
Today’s chocolate: Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Mint Crunch
In this psalm, as in Psalm 5, David urges God to protect him from his enemies and to bring justice to evildoers. However, much like Mitch Hedberg, this time he has taken out the old words and added new ones.
For starters, there’s a much more serious threat against him this time. He sets the stage for his petition to God by stating, “Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver” (1-2). There’s no question that his enemies threaten his very life. Perhaps this is why he proposes to God that, if he has harmed his friends or made anyone his enemy without due cause, God should let his own enemies prevail against him(4-5). Without God’s intervention, it would seem that David is going to die anyway, so he might as well make his case on the strongest basis he can find: God’s own justice.
As verse 11 indicates, David is convinced that God is just and hates evil. That’s why he couches his petition as “Only let my enemies kill me here if I deserve to die at their hands.” Seemingly, David either has confidence that his own righteousness is enough to merit deliverance from his foes, that justice is so vital that it trumps even his own desire for survival, or both. David’s confidence that he’s in the right is pretty high, as he states: “Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me” (8). But it would seem that he also has a strong desire to see virtue thrive and vice fail, even in himself.
How do we square David’s convictions with God’s grace? Isn’t it the case that we all deserve God’s judgment for our evil, that none of us measure up to the just standard of perfection, and that we ultimately have no recourse but his mercy, certainly not our own righteousness? Yes. Yes, we do. And I’m not entirely sure how to view David’s petition in light of that, but I do think it’s important that David is not asking God for eternal life or salvation from his own sins on the basis of his own righteousness, nor is he claiming perfection. Regardless of whether he’s “good enough for heaven,” he simply appears to be saying, “God, you are just, so please reward me insofar as I have acted justly and punish my enemies for their injustice.” And that, at least, seems reasonable to me.