Psalms 7 & It’s Cultural Background

Psalm 7[a]

A shiggaion[b] of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.

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.[c]

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.

10 My shield[d] is God Most High,
    who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
    a God who displays his wrath every day.
12 If he does not relent,
    he[e] will sharpen his sword;
    he will bend and string his bow.
13 He has prepared his deadly weapons;
    he makes ready his flaming arrows.

14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
    conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
    falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
    their violence comes down on their own heads.

17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.


  1. Psalm 7:1 In Hebrew texts 7:1-17 is numbered 7:2-18.
  2. Psalm 7:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
  3. Psalm 7:5 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
  4. Psalm 7:10 Or sovereign
  5. Psalm 7:12 Or If anyone does not repent, / God


NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

7:3 if I have done this. In some psalms, the psalmist is aware that sin has resulted in divine discipline (e.g., 6:132:4 – 551:3); however, frequently this is not the case, and the psalmist, like Job, protests his or her innocence. Declaration of innocence by one who is suffering is also a feature of Mesopotamian thought. While some texts preserving lament seem to presume guilt on the part of the worshiper, even if unknown, others complain that the worshiper is innocent.

7:9 probes minds and hearts. See note on 19:7.

7:13 flaming arrows. The OT never uses the Hebrew word for arrows to describe the flaming arrows used by human armies (see Pr 26:18 where it is “firebrands” in Hebrew). In Akkadian, there are a few references to the use of flaming arrows that kings rain down on the enemy. These arrows were presumably dipped in a type of oil or pitch and set on fire before shooting them. When Yahweh is said to shoot arrows, they are usually considered to be bolts of lightning (see 77:17 – 18 and its parallel passage in 2Sa 22:15). Lightning would fit well with the concept of flaming arrows in that it is sometimes just called fire. In the divine warrior motif, the deity is fighting the battles and defeating the deities of the enemy (see the article “Divine Warfare”). In Assyria, Nergal is the King of Battle, and Ishtar is viewed also as a war-goddess. The latter is viewed as raining down flames in war. The Canaanite Baal and the Babylonian Marduk are divine warriors. Thunder and lightning were considered to regularly accompany the presence of a deity in the ancient Near East, often in a battle setting. From the Sumerian Exaltation of Inanna to the Hittite myths about the storm-god to the Akkadian and Ugaritic mythologies, the gods are viewed as thundering in judgment against their enemies. Baal is depicted as grasping a handful of thunderbolts. Thundering terminology is picked up in royal rhetoric as Hittite or Assyrian kings portray themselves as the instruments of the gods, thundering against those who have violated treaties or stood in the way of empire expansion.

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