Unlike the others, the note that goes with this psalm is not to the choir director. This one gives specific authorship to David:
The shortened definition of Shiggaion is a “lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion”; click on the word for the longer, more official one. David had some hard times in his life, so it’s not surprising to read something like this coming from him. For all his faults, his faith in God was not one of them.
It also says that it was written about “the words of Cush” but there’s not mention of a Cush contemporary to David, so the authorship is off or this story wasn’t included with the rest of the book. It not being included is strange because if it affected David enough to write the psalm over it, why was it not worth recording for posterity? Or how is the authorship off? I’ll leave it to figure out another time.
3O LORD my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4if I have repaid my friendb with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5let 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
6Arise, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.
8The LORD judges the peoples;
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,c
O righteous God!
10My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.
12If a mand does not repent, Gode will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
13he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
15He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
16His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.
17I 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.
This one hits me a strangely. Yes, it asks God for help with enemies, but it also has an author that is not so sure about their own righteousness and basically asking to be called out on it in verses 3-8. Then he turns around and spends the rest of the psalm sounding sure about what God does to those who do not repent.
This is interesting because there is a clear difference between those who sin and those who “do not repent”, that being those who do repent acknowledge their sin and make efforts to not do so again. Someone who doesn’t repent is, in his mind, worse than the author and doing worse than whatever transgression he isn’t sure he has done. He points out, in a very blaming and judgey way, that he’ll gladly accept whatever comes from his misdeeds because “those who do not repent” are worse.
I’m not 100% sure how true that is for God, but it certainly makes me feel better someone being mean to me, even unintentionally, if they feel bad about it and come talk to me and try to make up for it later. I feel like those people are easier to forgive, but not necessarily like their guilt is dependant on whether or not I forgive them, or whether or not I want to see them punished. I feel like the author is saying that God deals vindictively with those who do not repent, and I’m not so sure about that.
It’s not that there aren’t clear examples of that happening so far, but more that it doesn’t seem to be the unifying factor behind whether or not God forgives them either. Sure, some people are the architects of their own demise, but I don’t think that’s proof that God did something to make it that way. I don’t even feel like God does that, to be honest. There doesn’t seem to be much point in punishing people for not knowing they’ve erred.
It comes back around a bit in the final verse to what I feel like goes on with this, that God forgives and forgets with those who seek Him, who actively want a relationship with Him. So then we have David, who is flawed and sometimes cruel with other people, but always knew that God would take care of him, always going in prayer and seemingly happy to be near God, except when he was afraid of the ark for a while there.
So the sentiment here appears to start with the desire to be saved, then acknowledges that he may have done some wrong in the situation and will accept punishment or consequences and then moves on to the certainty again that God will look for the “righteous” who it seems the author hopes to be himself, which he then suggests with that God is his shield, before moving on to his certainty about what God does to those who don’t ask for this forgiveness. The last part tends to sound more like he’s trying to convice himself that it’s the asking for forgiveness and acknowledging your fault that matter most along with accepting what comes from God on account of it.
Personally, I can’t disagree. There have been plenty of examples of God insisting that it’s about what’s in your heart when you do something that matters more than the doing. A half-hearted sacrifice isn’t well-received, no matter how big it is.