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Mizmor 007 - Shigayon - A Song of Errors

(א) שִׁגָּיוֹן לְדָוִד אֲשֶׁר שָׁר לַה' עַל דִּבְרֵי כוּשׁ בֶּן יְמִינִי:
(1) A shigayon by David, which he sang to Hashem, concerning Chush ben Yemini.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 10]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 007 - Shigayon - A Song of Errors
King David composed this mizmor in gratitude when he realized how Hashem had helped him in his flight from King Shaul and had not held his unintentional errors of judgment against him. In the mizmor David emphasizes the distinction between innocent errors and vindictive behavior. The mizmor is referred to as a shigayon, which is a type of song, accompanied by an instrument with that name. The origin of the word shigayon is related to mishgeh ‘error.’
Historical Background
This mizmor is one of many composed during the period of David’s life when he was a fugitive, being hunted by King Shaul. During this period Shaul was intent upon killing David, mistakenly believing him to be a revolutionary. However, many people of the tribes of Yisrael supported Shaul and refused to consider the possibility that Hashem chose David to be anointed king in his place.
On one occasion, when Shaul was pursuing David, he inadvertently entered a cave in which David and a few loyal followers were hiding. David had the opportunity to kill Shaul but chose to surreptitiously cut off a corner of Shaul’s garment instead (I Shmuel 24:5). Although he meant well, he later realized his mistake in showing a lack of respect to an anointed King of Yisrael.
On another occasion, David found Shaul asleep next to his spear in a campsite. David again spared Shaul’s life, but this time he took the spear and a water flask (I Shmuel 26:12). In both cases, Shaul was moved by David’s self-restraint and promised to abandon his vicious pursuit, but soon forgot his good intentions and returned to the hunt.
In this mizmor, David refers to Shaul as his enemy. However, he did not want to name him directly for Shaul was a basically righteous man anointed by G-d. In referring to Shaul, David chose the fictitious name Chush (derived from Kushi the name of a dark-skinned people) as a form of subtle criticism of Shaul’s obstinacy. Just as a Kushi’s skin does not change in its coloration, so Shaul did not change in his hatred of David even though there was good reason for him to see the truth of David’s peaceful intentions. Thus, it says, “Can a Kushi change his skin color, or a leopard its spots?” (Yirmiyahu 13:23).
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. DECLARATION OF INNOCENCE. David recalls how he prayed to be saved from Shaul, who was pursuing him. He vigorously asserts that it was never his intent to disrespect Shaul and he hopes his actions toward Shaul will not be held against him.
(א) שִׁגָּיוֹן לְדָוִד אֲשֶׁר שָׁר לַה' עַל דִּבְרֵי כוּשׁ בֶּן יְמִינִי: (ב) ה' אֱלֹקַי בְּךָ חָסִיתִי הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי מִכָּל רֹדְפַי וְהַצִּילֵנִי: (ג) פֶּן יִטְרֹף כְּאַרְיֵה נַפְשִׁי פֹּרֵק וְאֵין מַצִּיל: (ד) ה' אֱלֹקַי אִם עָשִׂיתִי זֹאת אִם יֶשׁ עָוֶל בְּכַפָּי: (ה) אִם גָּמַלְתִּי שׁוֹלְמִי רָע וָאֲחַלְּצָה צוֹרְרִי רֵיקָם: (ו) יִרַדֹּף אוֹיֵב נַפְשִׁי וְיַשֵּׂג וְיִרְמֹס לָאָרֶץ חַיָּי וּכְבוֹדִי לֶעָפָר יַשְׁכֵּן סֶלָה:
(1) A shigayon by David, which he sang to Hashem, concerning Chush ben Yemini. (2) Hashem, my G-d, I have sought refuge with You to save me from all my pursuers and rescue me. (3) Lest he tear my soul apart like a lion. He would dismember me and there would be no rescuer. (4) Hashem my G-d, if I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands, (5) if I have repaid friendship with evil — but I spared my unprovoked tormentor! — (6) then let my enemy pursue me and overtake me, let him trample my life down to the ground, lay my soul forever in the dust.
PART 2. CALL FOR JUSTICE. Confident of his innocence David calls upon Hashem to take action against his tormentors. He asks to be judged according to his sincerity and that Hashem’s declared purpose of appointing David king be fulfilled. As for the many people of his own nation who are supporting Shaul against him, he asks that Hashem resist their arguments and not pass judgment in their favor.
(ז) קוּמָה ה' בְּאַפֶּךָ הִנָּשֵׂא בְּעַבְרוֹת צוֹרְרָי וְעוּרָה אֵלַי מִשְׁפָּט צִוִּיתָ: (ח) וַעֲדַת לְאֻמִּים תְּסוֹבְבֶךָּ וְעָלֶיהָ לַמָּרוֹם שׁוּבָה: (ט) ה' יָדִין עַמִּים שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כְּצִדְקִי וּכְתֻמִּי עָלָי: (י) יִגְמָר נָא רַע רְשָׁעִים וּתְכוֹנֵן צַדִּיק וּבֹחֵן לִבּוֹת וּכְלָיוֹת אֱלֹקִים צַדִּיק:
(7) Rise up, Hashem, in Your anger. Raise Yourself because of the excessive rage of my tormentors. Invoke for me the judgment which You have issued. (8) [If] the assembly of the nations [tribes] of Yisrael surrounds You, rise up on high and return to Your heavenly place of judgment. (9) Hashem, judge the nations [tribes]. Judge me, Hashem, according to my righteousness and my underlying sincerity. (10) Let the evil of the wicked finish [them] and sustain the one who is righteous, [You] searcher of hearts and minds, righteous G-d of judgment.
PART 3. DECLARATION OF BITACHON. David declares his steadfast bitachon (trust) in Hashem’s justice. He is confident that his wicked tormentors will be brought down by the very weapons and stratagems they have been using against him.
(יא) מָגִנִּי עַל אֱלֹקִים מוֹשִׁיעַ יִשְׁרֵי לֵב: (יב) אֱלֹקִים שׁוֹפֵט צַדִּיק וְאֵל זֹעֵם בְּכָל יוֹם:
(יג) אִם לֹא יָשׁוּב חַרְבּוֹ יִלְטוֹשׁ קַשְׁתּוֹ דָרַךְ וַיְכוֹנְנֶהָ: (יד) וְלוֹ הֵכִין כְּלֵי מָוֶת חִצָּיו לְדֹלְקִים יִפְעָל: (טו) הִנֵּה יְחַבֶּל אָוֶן וְהָרָה עָמָל וְיָלַד שָׁקֶר: (טז) בּוֹר כָּרָה וַיַּחְפְּרֵהוּ וַיִּפֹּל בְּשַׁחַת יִפְעָל: (יז) יָשׁוּב עֲמָלוֹ בְרֹאשׁוֹ וְעַל קָדְקֳדוֹ חֲמָסוֹ יֵרֵד: (יח) אוֹדֶה ה' כְּצִדְקוֹ וַאֲזַמְּרָה שֵׁם ה' עֶלְיוֹן:
(11) My security is with Hashem. He saves the upright of heart. (12) G-d judges the righteous person, and [the one] who angers G-d every day. (13) If he does not repent, but sharpens his sword and he bends and aims his bow, (14) the deadly weapons he has prepared, [will be used] against him. His arrows will be deployed against those who burn. (15) Behold, he conceives iniquity, he is pregnant with evil schemes, he gives birth to falsehood. (16) He has dug a pit. He has dug it deep; he will fall into the deep pit which he has made. (17) His effort will recoil upon his own head. his violence will descend upon his own skull. (18) I thank Hashem according to His righteousness and I sing praises to Hashem’s Name, Most High.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. DECLARATION OF INNOCENCE.
(א) שִׁגָּיוֹן לְדָוִד אֲשֶׁר שָׁר לַה' 
עַל דִּבְרֵי כוּשׁ בֶּן יְמִינִי:
This is a shigayon [song], composed by David — שִׁגָּיוֹן לְדָוִד , which he joyfully sang to Hashem — אֲשֶׁר שָׁר לַה' concerning his relationship with Chush ben Yemini — עַל דִּבְרֵי כוּשׁ בֶּן יְמִינִי . Chush is another name for King Shaul, who was a Yemini, that is, a member of the tribe of Binyamin.
(ב) ה' אֱלֹקַי בְּךָ חָסִיתִי
הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי מִכָּל רֹדְפַי וְהַצִּילֵנִי:
Hashem, my G-d, with You I have sought refuge — ה' אֱלֹקַי בְּךָ חָסִיתִי . I have demonstrated my total trust in You by restraining myself from taking revenge upon Shaul when I had him in my power. Instead, I pleaded with You to save me from all my pursuers — הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי מִכָּל רֹדְפַי  and rescue me — וְהַצִּילֵנִי  if I am captured. I had no intent to harm Shaul; I hoped merely to be saved.
(ג) פֶּן יִטְרֹף כְּאַרְיֵה נַפְשִׁי
I was in great fear of Shaul lest he tear my soul apart like a lion — פֶּן יִטְרֹף כְּאַרְיֵה נַפְשִׁי . Shaul was as powerful as a lion, the king of animals. By charging me with treason, he was effectively tearing my soul apart.
פֹּרֵק וְאֵין מַצִּיל:
I was afraid that in his anger he would dismember me — פֹּרֵק , and there would be no rescuer — וְאֵין מַצִּיל . I feared that no one would come to my rescue because my actions would be seen as treason.
(ד) ה' אֱלֹקַי אִם עָשִׂיתִי זֹאת 
אִם יֶשׁ עָוֶל בְּכַפָּי:
Hashem my G-d  ה' אֱלֹקַי , You have total knowledge of all mysteries. If I have been intentionally disrespectful to Shaul, then I will readily accept the penalty. I swear that if I have done this  אִם עָשִׂיתִי זֹאת treasonous thing, if there is injustice in my hands — אִם יֶשׁ עָוֶל בְּכַפָּי , I am prepared to suffer the consequences.
(ה) אִם גָּמַלְתִּי שׁוֹלְמִי רָע
If I have repaid friendship with evil  אִם גָּמַלְתִּי שׁוֹלְמִי רָע , let me be judged guilty. I had been at peace with Shaul; I married his daughter and fought his battles with the Plishtim. What did I do to him that he should viciously turn on me? I have not behaved toward him as he did toward me.
וָאֲחַלְּצָה צוֹרְרִי רֵיקָם:
On the contrary, I spared my unprovoked tormentor — וָאֲחַלְּצָה צוֹרְרִי רֵיקָם . Although Shaul is unjustifiably pursuing me, his life is still dear to me. When I had the opportunity of killing him in the cave, I restrained myself and only cut off a corner of his robe to show him that he had been at my mercy. When I came upon Shaul sleeping in his camp, Avishai, one of my generals encouraged me to take his life but I refused. I just took his spear and water flask.
(ו) יִרַדֹּף אוֹיֵב נַפְשִׁי וְיַשֵּׂג
But if I am to blame for what I did, then let my enemy successfully pursue me and overtake me — יִרַדֹּף אוֹיֵב נַפְשִׁי וְיַשֵּׂג . Until now Shaul and his followers have been pursuing me without success. But if I am guilty of such wrongdoing, let them now succeed in overtaking me.
וְיִרְמֹס לָאָרֶץ חַיָּי 
וּכְבוֹדִי לֶעָפָר יַשְׁכֵּן סֶלָה:
When he overtakes me, let him trample my life down to the ground — וְיִרְמֹס לָאָרֶץ חַיָּי  as he shames my name. Let him lay my soul forever in the dust — וּכְבוֹדִי לֶעָפָר יַשְׁכֵּן סֶלָה .
PART 2. CALL FOR JUSTICE.
(ז) קוּמָה ה' בְּאַפֶּךָ 
הִנָּשֵׂא בְּעַבְרוֹת צוֹרְרָי
Rise up, Hashem, in Your controlled anger — קוּמָה ה' בְּאַפֶּךָ , against my tormentors. I ask that You raise Yourself  הִנָּשֵׂא  and act for me because of the excessive rage of my tormentors — בְּעַבְרוֹת צוֹרְרָי .
וְעוּרָה אֵלַי מִשְׁפָּט צִוִּיתָ:
I humbly call upon You to invoke for me — וְעוּרָה אֵלַי  the judgment which You have issued — מִשְׁפָּט צִוִּיתָ , that I am destined to ascend the throne of Yisrael.
(ח) וַעֲדַת לְאֻמִּים תְּסוֹבְבֶךָּ
And even if the assembly of the nations [tribes] of Yisrael lends support to my tormentors and surrounds You — וַעֲדַת לְאֻמִּים תְּסוֹבְבֶךָּ  with pleas to act against me, don’t listen to them.
וְעָלֶיהָ לַמָּרוֹם שׁוּבָה:
Rise up above their arguments — וְעָלֶיהָ  and don’t execute judgment against me. Instead return to Your heavenly place of judgment — לַמָּרוֹם שׁוּבָה .
(ט) ה' יָדִין עַמִּים
For when You, Hashem, judge those among the tribes of Yisrael — ה' יָדִין עַמִּים , who have been working against me, I will emerge as the righteous one if only You will not hold my errors against me.
שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כְּצִדְקִי וּכְתֻמִּי עָלָי:
Judge me, Hashem — שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' , according to my righteouness — כְּצִדְקִי  and my underlying sincerity — וּכְתֻמִּי עָלָי  rather than according to the result of any unintentional sin.
(י) יִגְמָר נָא רַע רְשָׁעִים
וּתְכוֹנֵן צַדִּיק
And now, let the evil of the wicked finish them off — יִגְמָר נָא רַע רְשָׁעִים . Their purposeful wickedness is not comparable to the unintentional mistakes that a sincerely righteous person may have made. Thus, I pray that You identify and sustain the one who is righteous — וּתְכוֹנֵן צַדִּיק .
וּבֹחֵן לִבּוֹת וּכְלָיוֹת
אֱלֹקִים צַדִּיק:
Only You can do this, for You are the searcher of hearts and minds — וּבֹחֵן לִבּוֹת וּכְלָיוֹת . Many show themselves to be righteous but are not. Only You can properly evaluate the degree of a person’s guilt or innocence.
You are the righteous G-d of judgment — אֱלֹקִים צַדִּיק , Who treats each person not only in accordance with his behavior but also his thoughts. Nevertheless, You don’t hold him accountable for every negative thought that passes through his mind, but only those thoughts that lead to actual wicked deeds.
 
 
PART 3. DECLARATION OF BITACHON.
(יא) מָגִנִּי עַל אֱלֹקִים 
מוֹשִׁיעַ יִשְׁרֵי לֵב:
My security is with Hashem — מָגִנִּי עַל אֱלֹקִים , Who makes allowance for people’s sincerity and honest devotion. He saves the upright of heart  מוֹשִׁיעַ יִשְׁרֵי לֵב  rather than holding them to account for the results of their unintended actions.
(יב) אֱלֹקִים שׁוֹפֵט צַדִּיק 
וְאֵ־ל זֹעֵם בְּכָל יוֹם:
I know that G-d judges the righteous person  אֱלֹקִים שׁוֹפֵט צַדִּיק  without favor. Furthermore, He judges the wicked person who angers G-d every day  וְאֵ־ל זֹעֵם בְּכָל יוֹם .
(יג) אִם לֹא יָשׁוּב
חַרְבּוֹ יִלְטוֹשׁ 
קַשְׁתּוֹ דָרַךְ וַיְכוֹנְנֶהָ:
If the wicked person does not do teshuvah — אִם לֹא יָשׁוּב , but continues to sharpen his sword — חַרְבּוֹ יִלְטוֹשׁ  and continues to bend and aim his bow — קַשְׁתּוֹ דָרַךְ וַיְכוֹנְנֶהָ  with the intention of keeping the righteous person under the constant threat of death, the offender will suffer in the end.
(יד) וְלוֹ הֵכִין כְּלֵי מָוֶת
חִצָּיו לְדֹלְקִים יִפְעָל:
The result will be that the deadly weapons he has prepared will be used against him  וְלוֹ הֵכִין כְּלֵי מָוֶת , and his arrows  חִצָּיו , which he made for use against the innocent, will be deployed against those who burn  לְדֹלְקִים יִפְעָל – with enthusiasm to hunt innocent men.
(טו) הִנֵּה יְחַבֶּל אָוֶן 
וְהָרָה עָמָל 
וְיָלַד שָׁקֶר:
Behold — הִנֵּה , the wicked person puts in a lot of energy planning and developing his evil stratagems, but it is a like a lengthy, but futile birth process. First he conceives iniquity — יְחַבֶּל אָוֶן ; then he is pregnant with evil schemes — וְהָרָה עָמָל ; and finally he gives birth to [brings forth] falsehood — וְיָלַד שָׁקֶר . In the end he will be frustrated because he will not get the result that he anticipated. His evil scheme will not succeed and will turn out to his detriment.
(טז) בּוֹר כָּרָה וַיַּחְפְּרֵהוּ 
וַיִּפֹּל בְּשַׁחַת יִפְעָל:
He has dug a pit — בּוֹר כָּרָה  to trap an innocent victim. In his eagerness to spring his trap he has dug it deep — וַיַּחְפְּרֵהוּ . However, while he is busily digging it, he will fall into the deep pit  וַיִּפֹּל בְּשַׁחַת which he has effectively made — יִפְעָל  for himself. [David foresaw that Shaul would die by the sword that he wanted to use against David.]
(יז) יָשׁוּב עֲמָלוֹ בְרֹאשׁוֹ 
וְעַל קָדְקֳדוֹ חֲמָסוֹ יֵרֵד:
His arduous effort to harm others will recoil upon his own head — יָשׁוּב עֲמָלוֹ בְרֹאשׁוֹ  and he will be frustrated that it is all for naught. Even worse, his violence will descend upon his own skull — עַל קָדְקֳדוֹ חֲמָסוֹ יֵרֵד . He will suffer the harm that he intended for others.
(יח) אוֹדֶה ה' כְּצִדְקוֹ
וַאֲזַמְּרָה שֵׁם ה' עֶלְיוֹן:
want to thank Hashem according to His righteousness — אוֹדֶה ה' כְּצִדְקוֹ , which I have personally witnessed and experienced. But as I learn how His treatment of me is only a small part of how He judges the wicked and saves their intended victims, I am all the more appreciative of His deeds and so I sing praises to Hashem’s Name, Most High — וַאֲזַמְּרָה שֵׁם ה' עֶלְיוֹן .
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah to Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[7:2] RELY ON HASHEM. – ה' אֱלֹקַי בְּךָ חָסִיתִי – “Hashem, my G-d, I have sought refuge with You.” If you rely only on Hashem alone, He will answer your tefillos.
Lessons for Life - Your Behavior.
[7:2] TURNING TO INTERMEDIARIES. – בְּךָ חָסִיתִי – “I have sought refuge with You.” Don’t turn to intermediaries, for your help is from Him alone.
[7:4] INTROSPECTION. – אִם עָשִׂיתִי זֹאת אִם יֶשׁ עָוֶל בְּכַפָּי – “If I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands.” Examine your inner thoughts to question your motives and your actions. Don’t automatically assume that you are justified in everything you did. See also Mizmor 004.
Tefillos for Life - Requests.
[7:7] VANQUISH ENEMIES. – הִנָּשֵׂא בְּעַבְרוֹת צוֹרְרָי – “Raise Yourself because of the excessive rage of my tormentors.” If you are contending with a bitter enemy, ask Hashem to help you by vanquishing them. See also Mizmor 002.
[7:9] JUDGE ACCORDING TO MERITS. – שָׁפְטֵנִי ה' כְּצִדְקִי וּכְתֻמִּי עָלָי – “Judge me, Hashem, according to my righteousness and my underlying sincerity.” Ask Hashem to look at your good deeds and at your faults when judging you.
[7:10] VANQUISH ENEMY BY SELF-DESTRUCTION. – יִגְמָר נָא רַע רְשָׁעִים – “Let the evil of the wicked finish [them].” Ask that people who want to harm you should be disabled through their own actions, without the need for your active involvement.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[7:10] OPEN UP. – וּבֹחֵן לִבּוֹת וּכְלָיוֹת אֱלֹקִים צַדִּיק – “searcher of hearts and minds, righteous G-d of judgment.” Open yourself up to Hashem. Let Him in to your heart, so that He can actively know you.
[7:16] DEFEAT OF ENEMIES. – בּוֹר כָּרָה וַיַּחְפְּרֵהוּ וַיִּפֹּל בְּשַׁחַת יִפְעָל – “He has dug a pit. He has dug it deep; he will fall into the deep pit which he has made.” Don’t give in to fear and worry of what your enemies might do to you. Hashem will arrange for their self-destruction.
Tefillos for Life - Gratitude.
[7:18] DEFEAT OF THE WICKED. – אוֹדֶה ה' כְּצִדְקוֹ – “I thank Hashem according to His righteousness.” Thank Hashem for protecting you by defeating the wicked.
Tehillos for Life - Praise.
[7:18] SUPERIOR TO ALL. – וַאֲזַמְּרָה שֵׁם ה' עֶלְיוֹן – “I sing praises to Hashem’s Name, Most High.” Praise Hashem as being superior to all powers.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רש"י, אבן עזרא, רד"ק, מצודות
ב - רד"ק, נר לרגלי
ג - רש"י, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ד - רש"י, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ה - רש"י, רד"ק, מצודות
ו - אבן עזרא, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ז - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, מלבי"ם
ח - רש"י, רד"ק, מצודות, מלבי"ם
ט - רד"ק, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
י - רש"י, רד"ק, מצודות
יא - רד"ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
יב - רש"י, אבן עזרא, רד"ק,
יג - רד"ק, מצודות
יד - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, מצודות
טו - מלבי"ם
טז - רד"ק, מצודות, מלבי"ם
יז - רד"ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
יח - רד"ק, נר לרגלי