Psalm 7:7
So shall the congregation of the people compass you about: for their sakes therefore return you on high.
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(7) So shall.—This clause is also in the optative: “let the communities of peoples be gathered round thee.”

For their sakes.—Rather, over or above it, as in LXX. The poet has a vision of judgment. Jehovah summons the nations, arranges them at His tribunal, and then returns to His high throne to preside. This explanation is more consonant with the context (see next verse) than to suppose the judgment to have taken place between the two causes of the verse, and the departure of God into the height “as a victor after battle” (Delitzsch), or “in proof of His supremacy as judge” (Ewald). This picture of arraigned nations is certainly in favour of the view which makes the psalm the expression of the feelings of the community rather than of an individual.

Psalm 7:7. So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about — Such a visible display of thy righteous judgment in thus pleading my cause against my cruel and implacable oppressor will induce multitudes of people, who shall behold or hear of it, to adore and glorify thee. For, observing thy justice, and holiness, and goodness, which will be hereby manifested, they will come from all parts to worship thee and to offer thee praises and sacrifices. For their sakes therefore — For the sake of thy congregation, which is now wofully scattered and oppressed, and has, in a great measure, lost all administration of justice and exercise of religion; return thou on high — Or, return to thy high place, that is, to thy tribunal, to sit there and judge my cause: an allusion to earthly tribunals, which generally are set upon high above the people, 1 Kings 10:19. The ark, and tabernacle, and worship of God, had been greatly neglected in Saul’s days, 1 Chronicles 13:3; his neglect of duty, impiety, and persecution, having driven his subjects from God’s ordinances, and seduced them into many crimes. “The words compass about,” says Dr. Dodd, after Spencer, “allude to the Jewish rite of going round the altar in time of divine worship. So that, to compass about, in a triumphant and joyful procession, means to adore, worship, and praise God. So Psalm 26:6, I will wash my hands in innocence, and so will I compass, or go round, thine altar.”7:1-9 David flees to God for succour. But Christ alone could call on Heaven to attest his uprightness in all things. All His works were wrought in righteousness; and the prince of this world found nothing whereof justly to accuse him. Yet for our sakes, submitting to be charged as guilty, he suffered all evils, but, being innocent, he triumphed over them all. The plea is, For the righteous God trieth the hearts and the reins. He knows the secret wickedness of the wicked, and how to bring it to an end; he is witness to the secret sincerity of the just, and has ways of establishing it. When a man has made peace with God about all his sins, upon the terms of grace and mercy, through the sacrifice of the Mediator, he may, in comparison with his enemies, appeal to God's justice to decide.So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about - That is, as the result of thy gracious interposition in defending the righteous, and in bringing just judgment on the wicked. The meaning is, that such an act would inspire confidence in him as a just and holy God, and that, as the result, his people would gather round him to express their gratitude, and to render him praise. In other words, every act of justice on the part of God - all hls interpositions to defend his people, and to maintain the principles of righteousness and truth - tend to inspire confidence in him, and to increase the number of his friends. The phrase "the congregation of the people," here, does not necessarily refer to any "congregation," or assembly as such, then existing; but it means that a great congregation - a great multitude - would thus encompass him, or that great numbers would worship him the result of his interposition. This the psalmist urges as a motive, or as a reason why God should interpose, that in this way the number of his worshippers would be greatly increased.

For their sakes - On their account; or to secure this result in regard to them.

Return thou on high - The most probable meaning of this is "ascend thy throne of justice, or thy judgment-seat;" spoken here either as a king ascending his elevated throne (compare Isaiah 6:1), or as ascending to heaven, the place where he dispensed justice. The "language" is as if he had come down from his throne - as if he had not been engaged in dispensing justice; and David now calls on him to reascend the throne, and to execute righteous judgment among men. The effect of this, he says, would be to secure the confidence of his people, and to increase the number of those who would worship him. Of course, this is not to be understood literally, but in a manner appropriate to the divine majesty. It is language, in this respect, similar to that which is elsewhere used, when the psalmist calls on God "to awake, to arise, to lift up himself." See Psalm 7:6. Such language is easily understood; and language drawn from the common modes of speaking among men must be used when we speak of God. The whole idea in this passage is that God seemed to delay in the execution of his judgment, and the psalmist entreats him to hasten it.

7. compass thee—as those seeking justice.

return thou on high—assume the judgment seat, to be honored as a just Ruler by them.

The congregation of the people; either,

1. A great number of all sorts of people, who shall observe thy justice, and holiness, and goodness, in pleading my righteous cause against my cruel and implacable oppressor. Or rather,

2. The whole body of thy people Israel, to whom both these Hebrew words are commonly ascribed in Holy Scripture.

Compass thee about; they will, and I as their king and ruler in thy stead will, take care that they shall come from all parts and meet together to worship thee, which in Saul’s time they have grossly neglected, and been permitted to neglect, and to offer to thee praises and sacrifices for thy favour to me, and for the manifold benefits which they shall enjoy by my means, and under any government.

For their sakes; or, for its sake, i.e. for the sake of thy congregation, which now is woefully dissipated and oppressed, and have in a great measure lost all administration of justice, and exercise of religion.

Return thou on high; or, return to thy high place, i.e. to thy tribunal, to sit there and judge my cause. An allusion to earthly tribunals, which generally are set up on high above the people, 1 Kings 10:19. So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about,.... By "the congregation of the people" are meant the nation of the Jews, the twelve tribes of Israel, called an assembly of people, and a company of nations, Genesis 28:3; and this is to be understood not of their gathering together in an hostile manner about David to take him, which might be interpreted compassing God himself about, David being as dear to him as the apple of his eye, which is the sense of several Jewish commentators (b); but rather of their encompassing and surrounding the altar of God with songs of deliverance, upon David's being rid of his enemies and advanced to the throne of the kingdom; see Psalm 26:6; unless it should have regard to the pure worship of God by David, which was greatly neglected in Saul's time; and then the sense is, that the psalmist prays that he might be established in his kingdom, as God had appointed and commanded, when he would fetch up the ark of God, and encourage the worship of God, and rectify all disorders in it; that so the several tribes might come up to Jerusalem and encompass the ark, the symbol of the divine Presence, and worship in his holy mountain;

for their sakes therefore return thou on high; take, the throne of justice, high and lifted up, vindicate the cause of the oppressed, deliver me from all my troubles, put me into the peaceable possession of my kingdom; if not for my, sake, yet for the sake of thy church and people, and for the sake of thy worship and thy glory; the Targum paraphrases it, "return thou to the house of thy Shechinah".

(b) Kimchi & Aben Ezra in loc.

So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore {f} return thou on high.

(f) Not only for mine, but for your Church's sake declare your power.

7. Render:

And let the assembly of peoples come round about thee:

And over it return thou on high.

The judgement scene. The Psalmist prays that ‘the peoples’ may be summoned to stand round the tribunal. It is a general summons. No distinction is made between Israel and other nations. Jehovah is exercising His judicial functions in their fullest extent as the Judge of all the earth.

The second line is difficult. There is much authority in favour of the interpretation, ‘Return to heaven, when the judgement is finished, soaring away above the vast throng and vanishing to Thy abode on high, thus proving that Thou art the supreme Judge of all.’

This explanation no doubt presents a grand poetic picture; but it is clearly untenable, for no mention has yet been made of the judgement, and Psalm 7:8 goes on to speak of it as in progress. It is best (if the Massoretic text is retained) to explain: ‘once more occupy the throne of judgement above the assembly, resume the judicial functions which seem for a time to have been abandoned.’ But it is doubtful if the word ‘return’ fairly yields this sense, and it is probable that we should change the vowel points, and read sit instead of return. ‘Over it take Thy seat on high’ upon the throne of judgement, gives precisely the sense needed by the context. Comp. the parallels in the closely related Psalms 9, vv4, 7.Verse 7. - So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about. Titan, if thou wilt show thyself in judgment, the congregation of the peoples - not, apparently, Israel only - will crowd around thee, in acknowledgment of thy majesty, and recognize in thee the righteous Judge of all the earth. For their sakes therefore return thou on high; rather, and above it (or, above them; i.e. above the congregation of the peoples) return thou on high. After coming down to earth, and executing judgment, then go back to thy throne in heaven. (Heb.: 7:2-3) With this word of faith, love, and hope בּך חסיתּי (as in Psalm 141:8), this holy captatio benevolentiae, David also begins in Psalm 11:1; Psalm 16:1; Psalm 31:2, cf. Psalm 71:1. The perf. is inchoative: in Thee have I taken my refuge, equivalent to: in Thee do I trust. The transition from the multitude of his persecutors to the sing. in Psalm 7:3 is explained most naturally, as one looks at the inscription, thus: that of the many the one who is just at the time the worst of all comes prominently before his mind. The verb טרף from the primary signification carpere (which corresponds still more exactly to חרף) means both to tear off and to tear in pieces (whence טרפה that which is torn in pieces); and פּרק from its primary signification frangere means both to break loose and to break in pieces, therefore to liberate, e.g., in Psalm 136:24, and to break in small pieces, 1 Kings 19:11. The persecutors are conceived of as wild animals, as lions which rend their prey and craunch its bones. Thus blood-thirsty are they for his soul, i.e., his life. After the painful unrest of this first strophe, the second begins the tone of defiant self-consciousness.
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