Psalm 7:8 The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. 9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous—you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! 10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. 12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; 13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. 14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. 15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. 16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. 17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
Taken by itself, the psalmist’s statement in verse 8 could seem arrogant or presumptuous. However, it is the prayer of one whose righteousness is found by taking refuge in the righteousness of God (v.1), and ultimately the prayer of the true king, David’s greater Son, who indeed was fully righteous (Rom. 1:3-4). According to this psalm, to be righteous is not so much about right-doing as right-relating. That is, the righteous are not those always do righteous works (indeed they often fail!) but those who make the righteous Lord alone their refuge.
The emphasis thus falls here on the righteousness of the Lord who is a shield to the upright, that is, to those who look to him as their shield. The judge himself is the only shield from judgment. The righteousness of God also means that he is indignant against unrighteousness. Although he may stay his judgment, he will not let unrighteousness triumph. Even in his patience God prepares his weapons of wrath against unrighteousness. Those who spurn God’s patience in unrepentance only store up further wrath to be revealed in the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-5). Indeed, the Lord’s patience is kindness meant to lead to repentance! God is kind even in his indignation, yet those who reject his kindness will find nothing other than that indignation. Ultimately, though, wickedness is self-defeating. The wicked fall into the very pit that they dig to ensnare others. Sin is folly, self-destructive, and suicidal. God need only turn the unrighteous over to the fruit of their deeds!
The judgment of God is mercy to his saints. The righteousness that is terror for the wicked is reason for thanks and praise for the righteous. As he concludes the psalm, the psalmist has not yet seen the deliverance of judgment, yet he can still confidently sing future songs of praise in the present moment of distress for the righteous God is faithful. If the psalmist had reason to praise even while in distress, have much more do we who have seen the Lord’s deliverance already take place in Christ through the judgment of the cross!