Introduction: The famous British preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834 –1892) once called Psalm 7 the “Song of the Slandered Saint.”1 Slander is defined as a false verbal statement that causes damage to another person’s reputation. As God’s servant, David was frequently the victim of slander. Through David’s example, God reveals in this psalm seven lessons for how a believer should respond to a slanderous attack. When you are slandered, God wants you to respond with:
(1) dependence, (2) surrender, (3) prayer, (4) trust, (5) faith, (6) love, and (7) praise / thanks.
First, when he was slandered, David depended upon God for his protection and refuge. When you are slandered, God also wants you to depend upon Him by seeking refuge and protection in Him. Second, although he was innocent of the charges against him, David turned to God to exonerate him instead of taking the matter into his own hands. When you are slandered, God also wants you to surrender your right to fight back and give Him that responsibility. Third, instead of taking matters into his own hands, David cried out to God to deliver him. When you are slandered, God also wants you to petition Him through prayer for deliverance. Fourth, David trusted God to bring justice to his situation. When you are slandered, God also wants you to trust Him to ensure a just and fair resolution to the situation. Fifth, David also showed his faith in God to deliver him instead of trying to fight back. When you are slandered, God also wants you to have faith that God will deliver you instead of taking matters into your own hands. Sixth, David showed God’s love by offering his attackers a path to escape the judgment. When you are slandered, God also wants you to respond to your attacker with His love. Finally, David thanked and praised God because he knew in advance that God would deliver him. When God delivers you or even when you are waiting for His deliverance, always praise and thank Him.
David professed that he would seek refuge in God. When an enemy who backed King Saul attacked David’s right to the throne, David sought refuge and protection in God: “The Lord Implored to Defend the Psalmist against the Wicked. A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjaminite. 1 O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue me, and rescue me, 2 or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is no one to rescue me.” (Ps. 7:1-2). This psalm is called a “shiggaion” or a “meditation” of David (Hab. 3:1). Because David’s attacker was a Benjaminite, we can assume that the person backed Saul’s right to the throne over David. Other backers of Saul, like Shimei, cursed David and falsely blamed David for causing Saul’s death (2 Sam. 16:5). This person might have made the same slanderous allegation. Like any other attack, David gave his burdens to God.
David took refuge in God. The slander that David faced was so dangerous that he analogized it to an attacking lion (Ps. 7:2). Thus, we can assume that it was a threat to his reign. God responded by giving David protection because David took refuge in Him (Ps. 7:1). David’s willingness to depend upon God and not in his own strength is something that he repeatedly professed: “3 But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (2 Sam. 22:31). “For You bless the righteous person, LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Ps. 5:12). “A Mikhtam of David. Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.” (Ps. 16:1). “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness . . . My times are in Your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.” (Ps. 31:1, 15). “In You, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.” (Ps. 71:1). “Many are my persecutors and my enemies, yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.” (Ps. 119:157). Solomon also repeated David’s advice: “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5). Satan once complained about a “hedge of protection” that God had placed around Job (Job 1:10). If you want to receive God’s shield or hedge of protection, you need to depend on Him.
David’s enemies frequently slandered him2
When others attack you, cry out to God for protection. David later recorded in a psalm how he turned to God in prayer when his enemies conspired against him: “For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me.” (Ps. 55:1-3). “Deliver me from all my transgressions; make me not the reproach of the foolish. I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, because it is You who have done it.” (Ps. 39:8-9). “Let them curse, but You bless; when they arise, they shall be ashamed, but Your servant shall be glad.” (Ps. 109:28). Like David, will you seek God’s protection when others attack you?
Let God strengthen you when others slander you. The exact subject of the Benjaminite’s slander is not stated. But we can assume that it was painful for David. David had many enemies who challenged his right to be king. Whenever he faced slander, he also gave his burdens to God: “But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together; the afflicted people whom I did not know gathered together against me, they slandered me without ceasing.” (Ps. 35:15). “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who devour, among sons of mankind whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword.” (Ps. 57:4). “They have gaped at me with their mouths, they have slapped me on the cheek with contempt; they have massed themselves against me.” (Job 16:10). “But now those who are younger than I mock me, whose fathers I refused to put with the dogs of my flock.” (Job 30:1).
David professed his innocence but surrendered his right to fight back. Although David knew that he was a sinner, he cried out to God that his enemy had falsely slandered him: “3 O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands, 4 if I have done evil to my friend, or have plundered my enemy for no reason, 5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah.” (Ps. 7:3-5). “The general charge against David in Saul’s lifetime was that he ‘sought the king’s hurt’ (1 Samuel 24:9). Afterwards he was accused of being ‘a bloody man’ (2 Samuel 16:8) - the death of Ishbosheth, and perhaps of others, being regarded as his work. If there be iniquity in my hands. If, i.e., I have committed any criminal act, if any definite offence can be charged against me. Human weakness and imperfection David does not mean to deny, but, like Job, he maintains in a certain qualified sense his righteousness.” (Pulpit Commentary on Ps. 7:3-5).3 David could have fought back because he was innocent. But he surrendered that right and gave it to God.
David professed his innocence to God on other occasions as well. This was not the only time when David cried out when he was innocent of the crime alleged: “For behold, they have set an ambush for my life; fierce men attack me, not for my wrongdoing nor for my sin, LORD,” (Ps. 59:3). On other occasions when he had sinned, David confessed his sins: “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” (Ps. 51:4). Thus, David was not self-righteous. Instead, he let God defend him against false accusations.
David also tried to reason with Saul and his followers. Instead of seeking to fight back, David also tried to reason with Saul and his followers when they pursued him: “So, my father, look! Indeed, look at the edge of your robe in my hand! For by the fact that I cut off the edge of your robe but did not kill you, know and understand that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life, to take it.” (1 Sam. 24:11). “He also said, ‘Why then is my lord pursuing his servant? For what have I done? Or what evil is in my hand?”’ (1 Sam. 26:18). This showed David’s attempt to avoid conflict with his own people when it was possible.
Don’t fight evil with evil. It is easy to cry out to God when you are guilty. It is harder to surrender your right to fight back when you are innocent. This requires that you surrender your pride. God never wants you to respond to evil with evil (1 Pet. 3:9).
David petitioned God for deliverance from his enemies. Instead of trying to right the wrongs against him, David cried out for God to stop his enemies from slandering him: “6 Arise, Lord, in Your anger; raise Yourself against the rage of my enemies, and stir Yourself for me; You have ordered judgment. 7 Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You, and return on high over it.” (Ps. 7:6-7). Because of his faith, David did not merely seek to hide under God’s shield. Instead, he sought God’s divine deliverance.
David repeatedly cried out for deliverance. Whenever he was under attack, David cried out for God to deliver him: “Arise, LORD; save me, my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” (Ps. 3:7). “Return, LORD, rescue my soul; save me because of Your mercy.” (Ps. 6:4). “Be gracious to me, LORD; see my oppression from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death,” (Ps. 9:13). “Arise, LORD, confront him, make him bow down; save my soul from the wicked with Your sword,” (Ps. 17:13). “O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me. . . Look at my enemies, for they are many, and they hate me with violent hatred.” (Ps. 25:2, 19). “Stir Yourself, and awake to my right and to my cause, my God and my Lord.” (Ps. 35:23). “Wake Yourself up, why do You sleep, Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever.” (Ps. 44:23). “God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; break out the fangs of the young lions, LORD.” (Ps. 58:6). “For no guilt of mine, they run and take their stand against me. Stir Yourself to help me, and see!” (Ps. 59:4). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). If you need deliverance, cry out to God.
David’s requests for deliverance included slander. Slander was one of the many forms of attacks that he gave over to God: “A Psalm of David. In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me . . . Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You; let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol. Let the lying lips be mute, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt.” (Ps. 31:1, 17-18). “Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.” (Ps. 120:2). If you are being slandered, let God defend you.
David trusted in God’s justice. In faith, David professed his confidence that God would vindicate him from the slanderous charges and ensure justice against the wicked: “8 The Lord judges the peoples; vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. 9 Please let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for the righteous God puts hearts and minds to the test. 10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.” (Ps. 7:8-10). By trusting in God’s justice, David freed himself of any feeling that he needed to act on his own to right the wrongs against him. David was further patient for God to act on His timing, not David’s.
You can trust in God’s justice because no evil can escape His sight4
God will also be your shield when you take refuge in Him5
Through faith in his sin offerings, David professed that God had made him righteous. David committed many terrible sins. Yet, because he repented and followed the prescribed methods for blood atonements, he proclaimed that God had made him righteous: “You have put my heart to the test; You have visited me by night; You have sifted me and You find nothing; my intent is that my mouth will not offend.” (Ps. 17:3). “The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has repaid me . . . Therefore the LORD has repaid me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.” (Ps. 18:20, 24). “A Psalm of David. Vindicate me, LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.” (Ps. 26:1). “A Psalm of David. I said, ‘I will keep watch over my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue; I will keep watch over my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.”’ (Ps. 39:1). Through the blood of Jesus you have also been made righteous: “but it is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction,” (Ro. 3:22). This allows you to approach Jesus’ throne of grace with “boldness” (Heb. 4:126).
Trust God to be just and fair. The psalms are also filled with praises for God’s just and fair character in judging good and evil: “And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples fairly.” (Ps. 9:8). “Your throne, God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.” (Ps. 45:6). “May the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with fairness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah” (Ps. 67:4). “Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns; indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples fairly.’ . . . Before the LORD, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness.” (Ps. 96:10, 13). “Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with fairness.” (Ps. 98:9). “[B]ecause He has set a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all people by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31). Even though evil may at times appear to be ramped, God will ultimately judge every evil act. But you need to have patience for God to act in His timing, not yours.
God is a shield to the righteous. David professed that God was his “shield,” who saves the upright in heart.” (Ps. 7:10). He is a shield to anyone who takes refuge in Him: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my savior, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. . . As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (Ps. 18:2, 30). He can also be your shield when you depend upon Him.
David proclaimed faith in God’s justice. As a warning to others, David stated that God is just. The implicit warning for his enemies was that they needed to fear God by rejecting evil: “11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who shows indignation every day. 12 If one does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and taken aim. 13 He has also prepared deadly weapons for Himself; He makes His arrows fiery shafts.” (Ps. 7:11-13). God will always provide a way for those who seek His justice to be in His presence: “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will see His face.” (Ps. 11:7). Yet, for those who reject His mercy, they will one day face His justice.
God is just and will judge evil. Because God is just, He will one day judge evil: “If I have sharpened My flashing sword, and My hand has taken hold of justice, I will return vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me.” (Dt. 32:41). “But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.” (Is. 5:16). “He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives justice to the afflicted.” (Job 36:6). “He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.” (Ps. 33:5). “For the LORD loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.” (Ps. 37:28). “The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.” (Is. 33:5). Among your many reasons to praise God, you can give thanks that He will avenge any wrong against you in His timing.
Have faith that Jesus will reign with justice and righteousness and one day judge evil. God promised that David’s line would lead to the Messiah, who would reign with eternal justice and righteousness and judge evil: “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’”’ (Jer. 23:5-6). “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Is. 9:6-7). “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, and a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; moreover, he will seek justice and be prompt in righteousness.” (Is. 16:5). Jesus was born into the line of David (Matt. 1:1). He came to fulfill God’s covenant with David as the eternal King of Kings: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:32-33). “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.’” (Rev. 19:16). You can also give thanks that you will forever live under His righteous reign where you will be protected from any form of evil.
Don’t interpret God’s delayed judgment as a license to sin. David said that God “has bent His bow and taken aim.” (Ps. 7:12). This means that God is ready to act, but He will do so in His timing. As one commentator explains, the opportunity to repent should not be wasted: “David here considered the readiness of God to judge the sinner. David saw the sword sharpened and the bow bent. With God so ready to judge, the sinner should never presume that God will delay His judgment. When God delays judgment out of mercy, many people make a fatal error. They think this mercy means that God is not concerned with justice. Instead, one should ask: ‘Why does God hold back the immediate application of justice?’ Is it because: ·The sinner is not really guilty? ·The Law is not really clear? ·Mankind, in fact, really deserves such mercy? ·God is not really powerful enough to bring justice? ·God is not really just? None of these are true. Instead, the sword is sharpened and the bow is bent. The only thing that holds back the immediate judgment of God against the sinner is the undeserved mercy of God, giving the sinner an unknown period of time to repent. Such mercy should never be presumed upon. . . The real reason for any apparent delay in God’s judgment is found in the line, if he does not turn back. In His great mercy, God waits for the sinner to turn back, to repent. The apparent delay is an expression of God’s love for the sinner.” (David Guzik on Ps. 7).6 If your sins have not been punished, repent of your sins and then give thanks that God withheld the judgment that you deserve out of love.
David offered his enemies a path to escape God’s punishment from their sins. Out of love, David offered his enemies a warning to allow them to escape God’s judgment: “14 Behold, an evil person is pregnant with injustice, and he conceives harm and gives birth to lies. 15 He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made. 16 His harm will return on his own head, and his violence will descend on the top of his own head.” (Ps. 7:14-16). David warned that a person’s unchecked sins slowly grow into judgment. In God’s perfect timing, a person ultimately reaps what they sow. God showed David mercy with a way out. David offered the same path to his attackers.
Show love to your attackers. When Shimei publicly cursed and slandered David (2 Sam. 16:5-6), David showed Shimei forgiveness in the hopes that God would also forgive and restore him (2 Sam. 16:12). Shimei later repented of his sins, and David forgave him (2 Sam. 19:16-23). As another example, when David responded to Saul’s attacks with love, Saul later repented: “And he [Saul] said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt maliciously with you.”’ (1 Sam. 24:17). Here, David could have said nothing when he was attacked and found comfort that God would one day judge his accusers. Instead, out of love, David offered his accusers a way out through repentance. Jesus encourages believers to love their enemies: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:44). When you are slandered or attacked, will you respond to your attacker with love and forgiveness?
Take God’s warnings about slander seriously. God warns believers not to slander others: “You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people; and you are not to jeopardize the life of your neighbor. I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:16; Ex. 23:7) “11 ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.’” (Lev. 19:11; Ex. 23:1-2). Lying is so offensive to God that it violates the Ninth Commandment (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Lies are also one of the sins that God “hates.” “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: . . . a lying tongue, and . . . a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16-19). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Prov. 22:22). Satan is the father of all liars. When you lie, you are under his influence: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father . . . Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Thus, no matter what the reason, you should never resort to lies or slander. Small lies can ultimately lead to more damaging ones. Ultimately, they grow into judgment. Here, instead of finding comfort in their judgment, David warned his attackers to repent.
Lies and deceit lead to even worse sins. David warned his enemies that their evil would only grow if they failed to repent (Ps. 7:14). God’s warnings about small unchecked sins leading to even worse sins and consequences is repeated throughout the Bible: “You have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble; My breath will consume you like a fire.” (Is. 33:11). “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death.” (Jam. 1:15). If there is any small sin in your life, don’t let it grow into a worse sin. Instead, repent of it and turn back to walking with God.
Unrepentant sinners will reap what they sow. David warned his enemies that they could bear the consequences of their actions (Ps. 7:15-16). The warning that a person reaps what he or she sows is also repeated throughout the Bible: “You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies.” (Hos. 10:13a). “One who sows injustice will reap disaster, and the rod of his fury will perish.” (Prov. 22:8). “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7). But God’s timing is not always our timing. Thus, you should never interpret the absence of an immediate consequence for a sin to assume that God does not care. God frequently delays punishment to give sinners the chance to repent.
Jesus will return to judge those who reject His mercy and grace. For those who reject Jesus’ mercy and grace, Jesus will judge them according to their deeds: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27). “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Rev. 22:12). “I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Rev. 2:23b). Thus, nonbelievers should not treat the promise of Jesus’ justice with indifference.
Fear God by hating all forms of lies. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10; Ps. 111:10). Fearing God includes turning away from evil: “And to mankind He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to turn away from evil is understanding.”’ (Job 28:28). If you want to be wise, avoid all lies.
David gave thanks for God’s righteousness. Because he was confident in his faith, David praised God for being just and righteous: “17 I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” (Ps. 7:17). David knew that God would ultimately act out of His own righteousness. David had no righteousness to merit God’s intervention on his behalf. God does so only out of grace.
Give thanks for God’s mercy and grace in your life7
Praise God for His deliverance. As our example, David always gave all the credit back to God when he was victorious: “I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, who gives salvation to kings, who rescues David His servant from the evil sword.” (Ps. 144:9-10). “He rescues me from my enemies; You indeed lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from a violent man . . . He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:48, 50; 2 Sam. 22:51). “O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.” (Ps. 140:7). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.” (Ps. 22:8). “Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words.” (Ps. 119:161). “Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.” (Ps. 119:157). “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:18). When God delivers you, do you also give Him the full credit?
Allow God to give you victory when others heap shame on you. David also praised God as “the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). In addition to protecting David, God also gave him victory and restored his honor: “And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.” (Ps. 27:6). “He rescues me from my enemies; You indeed lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from a violent man.” (Ps. 18:48). “Therefore He will lift up His head.” (Ps. 110:7b). If you feel shame or others use your past sins against you, turn to God for your victory and restoration.
Praise God for his righteousness. Also as our example, David repeatedly praised God in all circumstances: “I will rejoice and be jubilant in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 9:2; 66:1-2, 4). “My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the art of writing.” (Ps. 71:15). When God answers your prayers or delivers you, are you faithful to give God the praise?