A Shiggaion (Psalm 7)

Psalm 7

A shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord about Cush, a Benjaminite.

7 I take refuge in you, Lord, my God.
Save me from all who chase me!
Rescue me!
Otherwise, they will rip me apart,
dragging me off with no chance of rescue.
Lord, my God, if I have done this—
if my hands have done anything wrong,
if I have repaid a friend with evil
or oppressed a foe for no reason—
then let my enemy
not only chase but catch me,
trampling my life into the ground,
laying my reputation in the dirt. Selah
Get up, Lord; get angry!
Stand up against the fury of my foes!
Wake up, my God;
you command that justice be done!
Let the assembled peoples surround you.
Rule them from on high!

The Lord will judge the peoples.
Establish justice for me, Lord,
according to my righteousness
and according to my integrity.
Please let the evil of the wicked be over,
but set the righteous firmly in place
because you, the righteous God,
are the one who examines hearts and minds.

God is my shield;
he saves those whose heart is right.
God is a righteous judge,
a God who is angry at evil[d] every single day.
If someone doesn’t change their ways,
God will sharpen his sword,
will bend his bow,
will string an arrow.
God has deadly weapons in store
for those who won’t change;
he gets his flaming arrows ready!

But look how the wicked hatch evil,
conceive trouble, give birth to lies!
They make a pit, dig it all out,
and then fall right into the hole that they’ve made!
The trouble they caus
will come back on their own heads
the violence they commit
will come down on their own skulls.
But I will thank the Lord
for his righteousness;
I will sing praises
to the name of the Lord Most High (Psalm 7:1-17)

One day last school year, I had finished the lesson in government class for that day. I gave the students an assignment. I went to my desk to do some other work. I don’t remember what I was doing but lesson plans or grading papers would be a good assumption.

Tonya (not her real name) came to my desk and asked me, “What does bicameral mean?” I pointed to a corner of my desk. There was a dictionary laying there so I said, “Get the dictionary and look it up.”

“Dr. B. please just tell me,” she asked.

“No, Tonya,” I replied. “You need to learn how to do these things yourself.

“I don’t want to know that bad,” she said. She then started going back to her seat.

“No Tonya. Come back and look it up,” I told her. She then did a stereotypical pout and stomp back to my desk and jerked the book up and started looking the word up. “You can get an attitude if you want, but you are going to learn the meaning of that work and if you find it, especially now, you will always remember it.”

She goes through the dictionary. She is in the right general place. She frustrated and then looks back at me and says, “Bi-camel isn’t in this dictionary.” She has a huge smile on her face. She thought she had gotten the best of me.

“Tonya, the word is bicameral, not by bi-camel. You need to look up the correct word.”

She finally found it. I asked her what it meant. “Two houses,” she replied.

“And what does that have to do with government? I asked her. I

“I don’t know.”

Then I made her pull one of the government text books from the shelf and look it up in that book. There she learned it meant a two house legislative body.

I can’t say that Tonya would remember what the term means today but I do know that she remembered it for her next test and more importantly, she remembered for the final exam.

So, what does Shiggaion mean? I wish I could tell you. I didn’t really expect that Mr. Webster would be able to tell me, but I had a dictionary handy so I looked it up. This time, Tonya would have been right. It wasn’t in there.

Still, I didn’t find it particularly surprising when it wasn’t there. It is a Hebrew word, not in English. I was thinking this might be cone of those times when it is difficult to translate a work because we have no English word that actually mean the same thing. So, there is no way to perfectly translate it.

I went on to my one volume Bible dictionary to a multi-volume Bible dictionary and, while I found the word, I also found that there is no clear consensus to the word’s meaning.

Some scholars believe it to be some kind of prayer service. Something with prayer was most common. Others believe it to be some kind of worship. One person even said, it was a multi-headed monster sent by God to attack David. Another agreed with the monster theory but God wasn’t sending the monster after David, God was sending the monster after Cush, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, also mentioned in that heading.

I would agree with those who believed Shiggaion to be some kind of act of worship. I base that on a little logic. The psalm itself is an act of worship. The heading says, “A Shiggaion of David…” These headings are an instruction to the meaning of the psalm itself or instructions to the leader. The word is obviously a form of explanation of the psalm.

It does seem clear to me, that there will always be things we don’t understand. We do our best to research and find an answer but we also need to be honest with ourselves. We will never know all the meanings or everything we read or encounter, so I believe we do the best we can, then we move on. There is little else we can do. Some things are not meant for we finite humans to know and understand. I believe this might be one.

By the way, the meaning of the word, is not clear. This word is mentioned one time in all the Bible, right here. What scholars believed to be the plural of the word gets a mention in Habakkuk 3:4, “shigionoth.” And, what does Habakkuk 3:4 say?

I hope you have had a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
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