Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
As he begins his comments on Psalm 7, Augustine identifies the setting of the song, written by David when Absalom was waging war against him (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319107). He then speaks allegorically, making Absalom an image of Judas, betraying Christ, even though it led to his own ruin (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319115).
In verses 1-2, the Psalmist cries out for help and salvation from those who would attack him. Augustine compares this to the attacks of the devil against Christians (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319138). The many enemies of God in this world can create a hazard for Christianity. Therefore, the Christian should be on guard, knowing that attacks will come. In verse three David asks the Lord for discernment about whether he brought harm against his opponents, whether he acted unjustly. If so, he asks the Lord to repay him for his own evil (v. 4) (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319147). The attitude of the godly man is to expect to receive the same ill treatment he has given to others (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319154). By verse five he goes so far as to say if he has wronged his persecutor, that person should take his soul from him. Here Augustine notes that a person may deprive someone of bodily life but it is the devil who can steal a soul (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319162).
In Psalm 7:6, David calls on the Lord to arise in anger. Because God is by nature merciful, especially to the repentant, Augustine takes this as a plea that God would arise “against the devil and his angels, whose possession sinners and the ungodly are” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319178). In this way he asks that God would stop the devil and rescue the ungodly. This work of God results in a gathering of people around the Lord, whether of the faithful or of critics, Augustine is uncertain. As usual, he finds this as a reference to some of the events of Jesus’ life (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319194). He then brings up the further possible interpretation that God’s arising is a reference to the fact that Jesus did much of what he did in a state of humility, rather than exaltation, so was not recognized by those who surrounded him (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319202). In this case it becomes a stern warning. People would find Jesus departing and going out of their notice, only to come again and not find faith on the earth. Regardless of the interpretation, Augustine finds an emphasis on God as the just judge of all (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319226).
Not all is put in order by the prayer that God would arise. In verse nine, David asks that “the wickedness of sinners be consummated.” Augustine compares this with a sentiment in Revelation, that the righteous show themselves as righteous, the wicked, as wicked (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319242). He observes that we live in a world where all have a propensity to sin and arrogance. We need to see clearly where we are wrong. Our ultimate hope, as we are surrounded by evil, is in the Lord’s help, as David confesses in verse 10. Those we have wronged will likely try to reap vengeance, and rightly so. Our hope is in God, not in our fellow man (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319265). God is the one who makes us upright, in heart (inwardly) and in body.
God’s anger against sin still causes him to threaten the unconverted (v. 12). Augustine takes Jesus to be the double-edged sword threatened against the unconverted. He is the one who, in his second coming, will shed his wrath on the ungodly (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319304). This is not only chastisement, but he brings death (v. 13), through the bow of Scripture and the arrows of the apostolic preaching (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319312). Augustine questions whether the instruments of death may also include heretics, who persuade many to understand Scripture wrongly, thus causing them to suffer God’s wrath (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319324). Regardless, each man will suffer punishment in accord with his sin, while the righteous will be rewarded in accord with the mercy of Christ (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319340). The sin we pursue, as in verse 15, is a ditch we open, which then becomes our own trap. It is the ungodly man’s own sin which entraps him (v. 16). In contrast to this grim reality, the Psalmist confesses the Lord’s justice (v. 17). Augustine emphasizes that this is a godly agreement with God’s principles (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319364). It is a confession of God’s nature in accord with His promises, by which He forgives the repentant. In the end, all things, blessing and judgment, are from the righteous God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319380).