A Meditation of David

The New King James Version, which I always use in these messages, translates Shiggaion by “Meditation.”  This word comes from the Hebrew word sha’ag, which means “roar,” and indicates a loud cry in danger or joy.  Both meanings are seen in this Psalm.  Once again, this Psalm is by Israel’s greatest king, David, but in this case it is probably concerning a different situation than the one in the previous psalms that we have been considering.

Which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite.

We do not read of this occasion anywhere else in Scripture.  Since Cush was a Benjamite, it is likely that he was associated with King Saul, which would put this Psalm early in David’s career, long before Absalom and Shimei.

1.  O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;

David is trusting God in this time of trouble.  How good it would be if we would do the same!

Save me from all those who persecute me;

In this case, it is specifically Cush the Benjamite, but if he was associated with Saul and his retinue it could explain the plural here.

And deliver me.

David looks to God for deliverance from this difficulty.

2.  Lest they tear me like a lion,

Apparently this trouble was bad enough that David feared for his life.

Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

The hatred of Cush toward David was apparently great.

3.  O LORD my God, if I have done this:

Cush had apparently accused David of some terrible crime.

If there is iniquity in my hands,

David knows that there is not, and by speaking to God this way he is emphasizing the fact that he did not commit the horrible act that Cush was accusing him of.

4.  If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,

This then is what Cush was accusing him of.  He was apparently accusing David of attacking him unprovoked.  We can imagine how Saul would have responded to such a charge, knowing how he hated David already!

Or have plundered my enemy without cause,

His enemy here is Cush.  The King James suggests rather that he had rescued his enemy.  It would seem that David rescued Cush from an attack, and then Cush accused him of being behind the attack in the first place!

5.  Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;

David admits that the crime of which he is accused is so severe that, if he actually had committed it, he would deserve this fate.

Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,

The death penalty would have been a righteous judgment for David if he had actually acted in such a treacherous manner.

And lay my honor in the dust.

If David had done this, his honor would have been destroyed by it.


This connects what David (and the Spirit Who inspired David) considers would have been right for him if he had actually done this treacherous deed with what David (and the Spirit) considered was right for David since the charge against him was a lie.

6.  Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;

Consider the treachery of Cush, the one accusing David of this.  David had saved him in his time of need, and rather than being thankful he turned around and accused David of being responsible for the damage done to him in the attack!  This was a serious charge against God’s anointed, and thus merited the LORD’s wrath upon Cush.

Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies,

The LORD needed to go into action on David’s part because if he did not David would have been killed by the enemies who hated him so.

And awake for me to the judgment You have commanded!

David knows what is right in this matter, and calls upon the LORD to set it straight.  This reference to God’s judgment calls up an interlude jumping ahead to the great time of God’s judgment, the future Kingdom of God, when God will awake and bring his judgment not just to David but to the entire earth.  The next few verses speak of that future time, and not of the predicament of David long in the past.  The Psalms often take such leaps across the millennia, and we need to be ready for them or we will be hopelessly confused.

7.  So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You;

The word for “congregation” in the Hebrew is edah.  In this passage, the edah are those designated to rule and judge those under them.  In that future day, those who are appointed as governors will “surround” the LORD in order to learn from Him how to rightly govern their countries.

For their sakes, therefore, return on high.

This passage, amazingly to most people, predicts that the LORD will bring judgment to the earth, not after His Second Coming, but rather before it.  It makes it clear that the LORD’s judgment must be awakened while He is still in heaven, not while He is on the earth!  This strikes a blow to the popular theology of the day. 

This is much the same thing as Christ said when he proclaimed in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  Many people have wrongfully connected this with the work the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of people when He leads them to Christ.  When we connect it with this passage in the Psalms, however, we see that it is talking about the time in the future when God establishes His Kingdom on earth by showing forth judgment to everyone in all parts of the world.  This could not be done with Christ on earth, but can only occur now that He is ascended on high.

8.  The LORD shall judge the peoples;

This again cannot be true except in the coming Kingdom of God.

Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness,

David jumps back to his current trouble.  If God is able to judge the whole world in the future, then surely He can judge David’s case now and see that he is innocent of the charge made against him!

And according to my integrity within me.

David knows what is in his heart, and that he has not committed the sin he is accused of.

9.  Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,

I believe that all prayers in the Bible asking God to do things are actually prophecies stating what God will do in the future.  We know from several passages in the Scripture (like II Timothy 3:9) that this prayer will indeed some day be answered, and the wickedness of the wicked will come to an end forever!  In this case, however, the wickedness of Cush would also soon come to an end, for God had great things in store for David.

But establish the just;

This again will happen in God’s future Kingdom, and was also due to happen in David’s near future, when he would be established as King of Israel.

For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.

David knew that God had already tested his heart and mind and knew that he was innocent of the charges made against him.

10.  My defense is of God,

David knew that he could not defend himself in this matter, so he appeals to God for his defense.

Who saves the upright in heart.

This concept of being “upright in heart” is an interesting one.  It obviously does not mean that they are righteous, for Psalm 36:10 states, “Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.”  It would seem that the upright in heart are those whose hearts are right with God.  This is what causes God to show them grace (lovingkindness) and to credit righteousness to them.

11.  God is a just judge,

And therefore we know that He will do what is right in the case of every individual on earth.  No one will receive an eternal fate that is not fair or just.  We must trust God in this.  Yet it seems to me that many of our modern-day theologies about how God decides who will live and who will die are based on criteria that are very unjust.  I do not believe that God condemned people in the past simply for not being Israelites, as some believe.  Moreover, I do not believe that God condemns people for not believing in Christ who never heard the true story of Christ in our day.  For Him to condemn people for not believing what they had never heard would not be fair or just.

And GOD is angry with the wicked every day.

I would call this a dispensational statement.  That means that I think it was a statement that was consistent with how God was acting toward people at that time, but I do not believe it is consistent with how He is acting toward people today.  The reason I don’t believe it is consistent with today is because I know that today we live in the dispensation of grace (Ephesians 3:2).  Grace demands that God shows favor to all men, not anger.  I don’t believe that you could cause God to be angry no matter what you did today.  God is not like a child who is roused to wrath by the teasing of his fellows.  No one can rouse Him to anger when He does not wish to be angry.  And in our day He does not wish to be angry.  This does not mean that He will not justly condemn the wicked in the future when they stand before Him in judgment.  It just means that He does not act against them to condemn them now in this life.

At the time David wrote this, however, GOD had made no such constraints upon Himself, so He was therefore angry with the wicked constantly.

The word GOD here is the singular El rather than the plural Elohim, which it usually is.

12.  If he does not turn back,

“He” would be Cush the Benjamite.

He will sharpen His sword;

God Himself will fight against Cush if he does not turn back from his wicked designs against David.

He bends His bow and makes it ready.

These are figures of speech showing that God is preparing to go into action to fight against Cush.  We know Who will win such a battle!

13.  He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;

Cush’s offense, not David’s, was deserving of capital punishment.

He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.

Fiery arrows, of course, were more deadly than regular arrows.

14.  Behold, the wicked travails with iniquity,

“Travails” here means the same as a woman “travailing” with child.  The wicked is bringing forth his actions using the instrument of iniquity.

Conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.

The same idea is repeated three times in slightly different ways for emphasis.  What the wicked had done was wrong from its very conception in his mind on through to the time when it was carried out.

15.  He made a pit and dug it out,

A pit here is symbolic for a trap, a pit being a common trap of the day.  Cush had laid a trap for David.

And has fallen into the ditch which he made.

Cush’s trap would end up hurting himself once God entered the picture.

16.  His trouble shall return upon his own head,

The idea of the previous verse is repeated here for poetic emphasis.  This is a common figure of speech throughout the Bible.

And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.

The crown is the flat top part of the skull.  The head and the crown here are put for his entire person by a figure of speech.  His trap was going to hurt himself rather than its intended victim.

17.  I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness,

Saving David and returning calamity upon Cush was the righteous thing for the LORD to do in this case, and David will praise Him for it.

And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

“Most High” here is Elyon, the God Who is the Owner of the whole earth and the Dispenser of all good things to those upon it.  David promises to praise God for His aid and favor in the matter of Cush, and he will keep his promise in the following psalm.

To the Chief Musician.

This psalm was dedicated to this Musician.  It seems that there were several human musicians with this title in the days of David, and this dedication may indicate that the psalms connected with them were meant for public singing.  This may also be a reference to the Divine Musician Who wrote the psalms.

On the instrument of Gath.

This is a poor translation of GittithGittith means that this psalm relates to the Feast of Tabernacles, just as many of our Christian songs relate to our holidays (like Christmas songs.)  The Feast of Tabernacles was commemorative of the people of Israel coming safely into the land after their long sojourn in the wilderness.  This psalm is appropriate for that feast because it speaks of David’s hope of dwelling safely after his deliverance from the wicked plans of Cush.