205 - Songs for Future Kings and Queens (Psalms 7–8)
Psalm 7 reminds us that God is just and powerful enough to deal with the slanderous, hateful attacks upon us. Psalm 8 illustrates that He is also gracious and powerful enough to use weak people like us to carry out His will.
As we journey through the book of Psalms, you will notice comments at the top of certain psalms. We are now at Psalm 7, and we see one of these superscriptions—you might call them headers—and it says here, “A Shiggaion of David.”
Shiggaion (pronounced Shigaiywn) means “to wander.” It is possible David used a familiar tune that sort of wandered up and down the musical scale.
This psalm is “a Shiggaion of David which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.” Now we have no idea who Cush the Benjaminite was, but we do know that David’s history with the tribe of Benjamin was not all that rosy.
In 1 Samuel 13, the Lord judged King Saul, a Benjaminite, and gave the throne to David, a member of the tribe of Judah. I don’t think the tribe of Benjamin ever got over that, and they never seemed to care much for David.
Now this superscription tells us that David was composing this song about something Cush, this Benjaminite, said. And it evidently was not very nice. So, this is going to be a psalm about experiencing hurtful words.
In verses 1-2 we read:
O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
David basically just starts praying here. He is hurt, and he wants the Lord to defend him.
Then he says, “O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands ... let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it” (verses 3, 5). David opens himself up for God’s inspection. Don’t skip over this step when you are being attacked. Sometimes there are kernels of truth inside unkind criticism—the Lord might be revealing a blind spot in your life.
So, David surrenders to whatever the Lord wants to do in his own life. He says here in verse 8: “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness [or right-standing].”
Yes, David can point a finger at Cush, but maybe God can point a finger at David. This is the transparent attitude that allows you to grow during times of unfair treatment and unkind words.
By the way, there is no record of David being vindicated from whatever this slander was. But I can tell you that David ended up with a deeper relationship with God because of it.
In Psalm 8 we have another superscription. This one is addressed to the director of the choir; it says, “To the choirmaster: according to the Gittith.”
Gittith (pronounced Gittee) is a reference to the musical instrument that will accompany this song. David wants it played on the Gittith. Hebrew scholars think this was an instrument that was struck, like a drum or a kettle, but we are not sure.
David begins this psalm and ends it with the same words. These form bookends, so to speak, that give us the psalm’s theme. Here it is in verse 1 and verse 9: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
In this psalm David gives us reasons why God is so highly exalted. Look at verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your [enemies].”
Over in Matthew 21, when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple and then healed the blind and the lame, He said to the infuriated religious leaders in verse 16: “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and . . . babies you have prepared praise’?”
He was quoting this verse in Psalm 8. He didn’t need the powerful and the religious scholars to praise Him; He could get that from the lame and the blind and even little children who praise Him.
Next, David writes:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (verses 3-4)
When David looked up and observed the heavens, he called it the finger work, the sculpting, of the creator God. And he was overwhelmed that such a majestic creator would care about the human race. He writes in verse 5: “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings.”
What does that mean? Well, the word translated “heavenly beings” is Elohim—the name for God. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint, translates it with the Greek word for angels or heavenly beings.
And that is how the writer of Hebrews quoted it (Hebrews 2:7). Using the Greek translation of Psalm 8, he wrote that for a little while, Jesus was made lower than the angels. He was emphasizing the humility of Jesus when He was born here on earth.
But here in Psalm 8, David is not directly referring to the Messiah; he is talking about the human race. And he marvels that we were created a little lower than God.
In other words, we are the highest created order, the apex, of God’s creation. When David looked at the magnificent moon and the stars, he was blown away that God would even care about us; but God created us a little lower than Himself. Wow!
Now, before you swell up and start strutting around, David does not mean that we have divine attributes or that we even come close to being God. David is reminding us here of God’s original created design. Adam and Eve were the apex of God’s creation, created as King and Queen of Planet Earth. The animals were their subjects. But sin ruined all that.
Now David describes what our future will look like one day when God reverses the curse and creates a new earth and a new universe (Revelation 21). So, listen to your future, beloved, described here in verses 5-8:
You have . . . crowned him [the human race] with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea.
Beloved, here is your future when you one day co-reign with Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:6). You will have complete and perfect dominion over earth and the animal kingdom.
I want to remind you, though, that David did not say here in verse 5 that you are a little higher than the animals; he said you are a little lower than God. Charles Darwin wrote, “Man is the most efficient animal ever to emerge on earth.” In other words, you are just a smarter animal; you are just a superior mammal. Well, that is not what the Word of God says you are here in verse 5. You have been created far above the animal kingdom; you have been crowned with special glory and honor.
So, if you have been the object of unfair criticism, unjust treatment, unkind words, perhaps you have concluded that you are a nobody and nobody cares. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just go outside tonight and look up at the stars and listen to the rustling of the leaves and the evening songs of the birds. One day your dominion over God’s creation will be fully realized, as you reign with Christ as a king or queen in the coming kingdom of God.
 John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Volume One (Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 68.
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