The Word Made Fresh
(A shiggaion of David which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjaminite.)
1LORD my God, I have retreated to you.
Rescue me from those who are after me!
2They’ll tear me apart like a lion.
With no one to save me, they’ll drag me away.
3Lord my God, if I have done anything they accuse me of,
4or if I have done anything to harm my friends,
or pillaged my enemies without cause,
5then let them chase me and catch me,
let them trample me in the ground and lay my life in the dust.
6Lord, in your anger take action against their rage.
Awake, my God, and enforce your justice.
7Let the people gather around you
and take your seat over them.
8Judge the nations, LORD, and judge me also.
See that I am in the right and that I am a man of virtue.
9Destroy the evil of the evildoers and lift up the righteous.
For you are the only one who can judge our hearts and minds.
10God protects me and rescues those who are in the right.
11God is in the right,
and indignant toward the wicked every day.
12God sharpens the sword and strings the bow
against all who refuse to repent.
13God is well-armed with arrows of fire.
14Do you see those who are evil-minded,
those who are filled with mischief and lies?
15They dig a pit, and then fall into it themselves.
16Their misdeeds will rebound against them,
and descend on their own heads.
17I will extoll the LORD with thanksgiving, for the LORD is righteous.
I will sing praises to the name of the LORD most high.
Superscription: “shiggaion” is from the verb shagah (“to reel about drunkenly”) and scholars believe it refers to a song of strong emotion and impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music. The word occurs only here and at Habakkuk 3:1. This is the 5th of the 72 Psalms ascribed to David. The reference to “Cush, a Benjaminite” is unexplained; no such person appears in the accounts of the reign of David.
1-2: The petition: the psalmist is being pursued by enemies and he is asking God to protect him.
3-5: He claims that he is innocent by saying that if he is guilty of having caused any harm then by all means let him be punished. In other words, he doesn’t think he is guilty.
6-8: These verses seem to refer to a trial about to take place in which the psalmist is falsely accused of some crime. His prayer is that God will sit in as judge above the courtroom and guide the proceedings in such a way that his innocence will be maintained.
9-11: It is a common belief expressed in the psalms – and elsewhere in the Bible – that God will thwart the plans of the wicked and uphold and defend “those who are in the right.”
12-16: God’s defense is pictured in military terms. The psalmist’s wish is that evildoers (his enemies) will themselves suffer the consequences of their evil.
17: The psalm ends with a promise of praise and thanksgiving.
God protects the innocent. If they are not acquitted in this life, and they often are not, they will be raised to glory in the life to come.