The RIGHTEOUS One’s Response to Slander
A brief study of Psalm 7, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 9 June 2006
Psalm 7 may be known as ‘The song of the slandered saint’. It was written by David under inspiration when his heart was smarting in pain because of the words of Cush the Benjamite as the title suggests. Who is Cush the Benjamite? Well, the word Cush means ‘black’ or ‘Ethiopian’. So some commentators suggest that it refers to the black-hearted Saul. But it is interesting to note that sin and wickedness is not usually represented with the black colour in the Scripture. It is rather represented by red; whereas black represents suffering.
Well, more likely Cush refers to someone who was in league with Saul the Benjamite; and who had apparently slandered David before Saul.
It was his slander that prompted David to write this ‘song of the slandered saint’.
Now, this title was suggested by Charles Spurgeon. It is a song that Christians who feel that they have been unjustly slandered can take up.
To be slandered is to be maligned or insulted by someone behind your back. This, as you can appreciate can be a very painful experience.
But it was also Spurgeon who pointed out that if someone were to say something bad about him to another, that he would not get too upset because his slanderer could have said much worse things about him if only he knows the whole truth about him.
Is it not a fact that the things that anyone who slanders us says about us cannot be compared to what he could have said if he can read our heart and our memories?
But if that is so, how can we honestly sing the words in verse 8—"judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me"?
Well, we can sing these words only because this song is no ordinary song. It was written in the Spirit of Christ. It is written to reflect what Christ the Greater David would suffer in His own earthly life. It is a song that Christ would have often taken on His lips in the days of His suffering. It is only because these words were sung by our Lord that we can sing them with honesty as a people united to Christ.
Were it not for the fact that Christ’s righteousness covers us, we would be foolish to sing—"judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness", because all our righteousness are but filthy rags in the sight of God. But because of the righteousness of Christ imputed and imparted to us, we can sing these words of Christ with confidence.
With this in mind, let us consider this psalm briefly as the words of Christ. This psalm has 5 parts. First from verse 1-2, we have the…
1. Danger Stated
Here we see our Lord crying out unto His Father to deliver Him from those who persecute Him (v. 1). He was charged with blasphemy; He certainly did not blaspheme. He was said to be a Sabbath breaker; He certainly was not. He was said to have claimed to be able to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in three days if it were torn down; He was referring to His own death and resurrection.
Our Lord was maligned and falsely accused. His persecutors were ready, as it were, to tear His soul like a lion tears his prey apart (v. 2).
When we find out that someone had slandered us before others, is that not how we feel?
I have felt slandered many times. I think every minister will experience it. There were times when I felt that someone has stabbed me from behind and twisted the blade. Other times I feel like a lion has pounced on my soul.
What to do at such times? Our Lord committed Himself to His Father. When He was reviled, He reviled not in return. He does not play the game of tit-for-tat. He goes to the Father singing and meditating the words of this Psalm.
But He can only have comfort and assurance so to pray, in the knowledge that He is innocent of the wickedness that His enemies are guilty of. So from verse 3-5, He avows His innocence.
2. Innocence Avowed
Confident of His innocence, our Lord asks His Father to examine Him to see if He has slandered or if there is iniquity in His hands.
If He had slandered or rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with Him, He would willingly submit Himself to be persecuted by His enemies, to be trampled underfoot by them.
But the fact, is, as can be seen in the parenthesis in verse 4, He even delivered or spared those who without cause were His enemies.
David who penned this Psalm twice preserved the life of Saul who was persecuting him without cause. He could have killed Saul, once in the wilderness of Engedi, and once in the plain. But he did not.
So too our Lord,—by whose Spirit, David wrote,— delivered those who persecuted Him without cause. He could have called upon a million angels to strike them dead. But instead He prays for them: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Our Lord loved us who were His enemies so much that instead of punishing us for our sin, He laid down His life for us.
It is for this reason that we must learn to lay down our lives for one another. We must follow the footsteps of our Lord as the apostle Peter reminds us. If we are going to be able to use His psalms with a clear conscience, we must be imitators of Christ. We must not ever engage in slander, or to render evil for good. If we cannot say anything good about someone, it may be best for us not to say anything.
Our Lord sets us the example. Compared to what His persecutors were doing to Him, He was very kind to them. And because of His kindness towards them, how absolutely unjustified would it be for them to continue to persecute Him.
Therefore, the Lord calls for judgement against them. Vengeance belongs unto me, says the Lord. Our Lord as the Son of Man therefore refused to take revenge against His slanderers, but committed them to His Father.
3. Judgement Called For
6 Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
We must not assume that our heavenly Father does not care when we are slandered. No, no; He is angry. As the Father was angry against those who slandered His only begotten Son, so we know that He is angry against those who slander His adoptive sons and daughters.
As our elder brother cried to the Father to arise for Him, so we must do likewise.
We must plead with the Father that He does so, so that His name may be magnified and His people drawn to Him (v. 7).
We must plead with the Father that He distinguishes between the wicked and the just in His acts of providence (vs. 8-9). Our Lord was of course perfectly just. He was tempted at all points like as we are and yet without sin. He alone can stand when the Father judges according to righteousness. He alone is righteous in God eyes.
We who are united with Christ can plead the righteousness of Christ imputed to us in justification when we are persecuted on account of our faith. At the same time we may plead the righteousness of Christ imparted to us in sanctification.
Those who are united to Christ by faith have Christ’s righteousness both imputed and imparted to them. We can therefore honestly sing these words, calling upon the Father to arise for us, to judge us according to our righteousness, or rather the righteousness of His Son imputed and imparted to us.
When we so pray or sing the psalms, we must do so with full confidence that the Father will indeed deal justly.
This is why the fourth section of the psalm affirms the justice of God.
4. Divine Justice Affirmed
10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. 11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
God’s love and care is particular. He does not stand up for the wicked or for slanderers. He stands up for the upright and righteous. He is angry at the wicked everyday.
The wicked can expect that their wicked devices will eventually turn to their disadvantage. They are digging a pit for themselves (v. 15). They are, in modern idiom, ‘shooting their own foot’.
Those who slander God’s children can expect to do themselves more harm eventually.
This is the assurance that our Lord had. It was an assurance that translated into reality, for those who persecuted Him and continued to do so eventually face the full wrath of divine justice.
"The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born" (Mk 14:21).
Woe unto those who clamoured for His blood by slander and refused to repent of their wickedness, for God is perfectly just and He will see to it that justice is meted out.
For this reason we must learn to praise the Lord in the midst of our perplexity!
5. Concluding Praise
His execution of perfect justice and His vindication of His children and punishment of the wicked give great reasons for God’s children to praise Him.
17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
Our Lord must have sung and meditated on the Words in His hour of suffering. He would shortly experience the darkness of the cross. But His confidence in the Father and His perfect justice gave Him hope.
His hope was not an empty hope, but a firm assurance that gave Him a strong reason to praise the Father.
You may not, at the moment, be suffering from slander as was our Lord, but very few, if any, of us, will go through life without experiencing being slandered at one time or another. Sometimes the slander could even originate from friends we once trusted. Or it may originate from our colleagues or bosses.
What do we do when we are slandered? What should we do when we are so badly hurt? Let us remember how our Lord was slandered on our behalf. Let us remember how our Lord conducted Himself in a praiseworthy manner and committed Himself to His Father. Let us remember this psalm. Let us sing it, and let us meditate on it. Amen.
— JJ Lim