Psalms 6–8: Breadth & Depth

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 3: Wednesday




In today’s Bible reading of Psalm 6–8, each one written by David, we see both the depth and breadth of his knowledge of God. The depth of his knowledge of God is seen in David’s trust as he pours out his dismay and weariness, his cries for vindication and judgment, and his praise and wonder to God. The breadth of his knowledge is seen in his understanding and affirmation of who God is. The two are interwoven together, for the breadth of his understanding of God is reflected in the depth of his outpouring of his soul.

Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23–24

Psalm 6 is written out of dismay and weariness.  David is worn down and in a state of exhaustion from the acts of his enemies. In evident quandary of mind as to why this he has endured this long season of attrition, he asks God not to rebuke him or chasten him, but to have mercy on him and heal him, to return and rescue him.  In verse 4, he appeals:

“Save me because of Your lovingkindness.”
Psalm 6:4

David knows God is a God who exercises lovingkindness, but not only that, God delights in lovingkindness. This is David’s appeal when he has no respite from his grief and tears.

In Psalm 7, David is actively being pursued by an enemy, Cush, a Benjamite. We don’t know who Cush is, but because Saul was also of the tribe of Benjamin, this could have been someone seeking David on Saul’s behalf in order to kill him. David vehemently declares his own integrity in this psalm, asking God to let his enemy take his life if he has done evil to his friend or plundered an adversary without cause.1 At the end of verse 8, he asks God to, “Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.”  The Hebrew word translated as vindicate, שָׁפַט (shōpaţ), is the same word translated as judge in verse 11.

“The primary sense of shōpaţ is to exercise the processes of government. …although the ancients knew full well what law—whether civil, religious, domestic of otherwise—was, they did not think of themselves as ruled by laws rather than by men…The centering of law, rulership, government in a man was deeply ingrained.

…in a situation of government by persons rather than merely of laws, the civil officer (the shōpēţ “one judging”’) had the executive as well as judicial powers….Hence such words as deliver, vindicate, condemn, punish, and related words of judicial-executive import are justly used in translations.

…Because all true authority is God’s and he shall ultimately act as judge of the world in the last great assize, he is shōpēţ pre-eminent…and meanwhile through providence he is always supreme shōpēţ of the universe.”2

What kind of judge is God?

“God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.”
Psalm 7:11

David’s reliance for vindication is on God, who exercises and delights in justice and righteousness.

Psalm 8 is a psalm of praise and awe as David considers God’s display of His splendor in the heavens, and asks, “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” and then answers in wonder at the glory and majesty God has given to man.  The psalm begins and ends with the same phrase:

“O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:1a, 9

Dismayed and weary—deep grief finding expression in nightly tears; pursued and treated unjustly—needing deliverance and wanting vindication; in his deepest needs and darkest valleys, David prays. In wonder of God’s majesty, humbled by His works and in awe God condescended to make man all that he is, David praises.

David wrote his psalms as poetry, and they are certainly great poetry, however; David did not write them for the purpose of having an eloquent format for his thoughts and feelings— his psalms were addressed to someone—he was calling on God. He cries out, O LORD; LORD; God; my God.  David knew God, but he was a man like us with adversity, fears and dismay in the midst of perilous times. He appealed to God to help because he knew and understood who God is.

Through His Word, may God teach us who He is, and may we call on Him because we know and understand Him: God, who exercises and delights in lovingkindness and justice and righteousness; God, whose name is majestic in all the earth.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Wenceslas HollarThe Psalms, 1668: Public Domain.
1Leslie S. M’Caw, J. A. Motyer, “The Psalms,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie,
J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 454–455.

Psalm 7: “Cush (see title) is not named in the chronicles of the time. The Talmud identifies him with Saul; he may have been one of Saul’s fanatical fellow-tribesmen like Shimei (2 Sa. 16:5). It is generally assumed that the poem belongs to the period of Saul’s persecution of David….Evidently those who sought David’s life accused him also of dishonour, i.e., of attempting to seek vengeance on the anointed Saul. The words of 4b recall the incident of 1 Sa. 24:1–12.”

2R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the
Old Testament
, vol. 2, pp. 947–948

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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