LORD my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
LORD my God, if I have done this
and there is guilt on my hands —
if I have repaid my ally with evil
or without cause have robbed my foe —
then let my enemy pursue and overtake me;
let him trample my life to the ground
and make me sleep in the dust.
Arise, LORD, in your anger;
rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.
Let the assembled peoples gather around you,
while you sit enthroned over them on high.
Let the LORD judge the peoples.
Vindicate me, LORD, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High.
Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure —
you, the righteous God
who probes minds and hearts.
My shield is God Most High,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
a God who displays his wrath every day.
If he does not relent,
he will sharpen his sword;
he will bend and string his bow.
He has prepared his deadly weapons;
he makes ready his flaming arrows.
Those who are pregnant with evil
conceive trouble and give birth to disillusionment.
Those who dig a hole and scoop it out
fall into the pit they have made.
The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
(Psalm 7 TNIV)
At first glance, this Psalm appears to be asking for retribution against our enemies. Our modern "sensibilities" recoil against the violence attributed to God and requested of God. The problem with these sentiments, however, is not God. The problem is with our modern sensibilities. We say we disdain violence, yet worship it in many forms — violent sports attract the crowds and TV audiences; violent activities give us a rush and lure us into their intoxicating grip; violent news gains our attention and wins the marketplace battles; violent video games sell best; violent movies invite us into the world of violence as we see the action through the eyes of abusive, murderous, and vicious; violence grips many families and batters the futures of many children, women, elderly, and men; and violence occurs on our city streets at dreadful rates destroying neighborhoods, families, and businesses.
Look closer! This Psalm is not about retribution, but is about justice. In a world starved for true, equitable, and accessible justice, this Psalm is a reminder that only God can settle every score, even each playing field, and settle all debts. The Psalmist dares us to have our integrity, our fairness, and our righteousness scrutinized by God.
To read, pray, or say this Psalm — to claim it as our own — is to invite God into every area of our life — even our thoughts and emotions — and let Him have His way with us. Trying to live righteously, seeking to dispense mercy, committing to live with justice in a warped world is going to end up leaving all of us unfairly treated and deeply in need of God's grace, mercy, righteousness, and justice!
Ultimately, the description of the violent — those who are pregnant with evil ... — is a reminder that God is our only source of fairness, righteousness, mercy, and justice. Our place in the equation is to live with justice, mercy, fairness, and righteousness toward others and pray earnestly, "O LORD, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure." Our only real hope for fairness, ultimately, is to place ourselves in the hands of the righteous God who probes minds and hearts and who will one day bring to an end the violence of the wicked. Let us hasten the day this comes by living out the character of our just, righteous, and merciful God.
O God, please, for Your glory and our grace, bring an end to the violence of the wicked. In Jesus' name we cry! Amen.