Psalm 7:1 O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, 4 if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, 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
6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. 7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
These introductory verses are key to understanding this psalm. The psalmist — who here speaks as Israel’s king — acclaims Yahweh as his God in whom alone he finds refuge from those who would overtake and destroy him. Recalling the way in which Psalms 1-2 have instructed us to christologically interpret the rest of the psalter — namely, in terms of the blessed Messiah who blesses all those who take refuge in him — we must understand this prayer as the Messiah’s appeal not only for his own deliverance from his enemies but also for the salvation of the people he represents. According to Psalm 2:12, those who take refuge in Yahweh and his Christ are blessed, not because of their own righteousness but simply because they have cast themselves helplessly on the very One who is their righteous Judge. In submitting to the very justice that would justly condemn them, they are granted the blessing of justification.
With Yahweh as his refuge, Israel’s Messiah is confident to be in the right, despite the taunts and accusations of his enemies who say, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35). This is why the king can invoke the judgment of God upon himself, for he is confident that he will be ultimately stand justified in the sight of his Judge over against the verdict of his enemies. This did in fact occur when in his resurrection and ascension Jesus was “exalted at the right hand of God” and universally proclaimed “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:33, 36), but not before the wrathful judgment of God against sin fell with terrifying fury upon his Chosen One. Whereas David prayed with confidence that he would be spared from judgment, his greater Son, the truly righteous One, obediently bowed his head knowing full well that his life would be trampled to the ground and his glory laid in the dust.
And yet, even before judgment falls, Christ prays with the certain hope that he will in the end be vindicated. Inasmuch as he vicariously represents all those who take refuge in him, so also can his people rejoice knowing that their sins have been condemned in his flesh and that his vindication ensures their own. Thus, those who belong to Christ need not fear the appointed judgment (nor anything else for that matter!), for they rest assured that there is now no condemnation for all who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). If Christ is their righteousness, what accusation could ever stand against them? For the just, judgment will mean salvation!