Psalm 9: Part 1 of 3 (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

February 14, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 9

Title: The tune of “Death of the Son.”

Praise for God’s justice.
To the chief musician according to Muthlabban, A psalm of David.

1 I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
3 When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
4 For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
5 Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
6 O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
7 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
11 Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
12 When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
13 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
14 That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
15 The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
16 The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
19 Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
20 Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.


Introduction
Muth-labben probably refers to the tune to which these words were to be sung. The Chaldean version adds “concerning the death of the champion who went out between the camps,” which makes this Psalm concerned with the death of Goliath of Gath. Others identify this psalm with the death of Bathsheba’s son. There is also the opinion that it refers to what happened in the land of Egypt when Israel was delivered from slavery by the death of Egypt’s firstborn. After many triumphant years of victory over his enemies the psalmist recollects the incidents, and writes about them in the psalm. This is the first of the acrostic or alphabetical psalms, of which there are nine (9, 10, 35, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145). These psalms make use of the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet to begin the opening word of its verses. In the Septuagint, the psalm refers to the death of the Divine Son, and recites his victory over death, and the grave, and all our foes.

Psalm 9 and 10 may have originally been one psalm, as they are in the Septuagint. They are similar in form and have similar wording. But there is a strong case for the two psalms being separate. Psalm 9 is a triumphant song of thanksgiving, while Psalm 10 is a complaint and prayer over godless men in the nation. Because Psalm 9 is complete in itself, it is better to regard Psalm 10 as a related psalm.

Psalm 9 is a song of thanksgiving for vindication. Ascribed to David, this psalm is set “to the tune of ‘the Death of the Son.’” What that means is unknown, but there has been some conjecture. One opinion states that “the Death of the Son” is a well-known song, to whose melody the musician is instructed to perform this psalm. In the psalm, David praised the Lord for manifesting His righteousness by judging the wicked nations, and for being a true and eternal Judge in whom the afflicted may trust. He then prayed that God would give him further cause for praise by seeing his

affliction and removing it from him.


Commentary
1 I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

David speaks of God as the true Judge and the Hope of the afflicted. In view of this, David resolved to praise Him wholehearted, to tell of His wonders, to be joyful in God, and to sing to Him. All this wholehearted thanksgiving is because David’s enemies have been condemned by God. Setting on His throne, God has passed judgment so that there is no doubt about the outcome. The result is that David has just experienced a wonderful release. He was falsely accused by enemies. His case was brought before God at the sanctuary, and from His righteous throne the Lord vindicated His servant before the eyes of his humiliated and rejected foes. The statement of this forms the chief part of his song of thanks and gives the reason for his gratitude.

“Marvelous works” or ‘wonders’ are “things that are extraordinary or surpassing.” David was probably thinking of God’s extraordinary interventions in history on behalf of his people (the Exodus events), as well as His interventions on his own behalf. David’s aim was to glorify the Lord, not himself. His joy was in the Lord, not just in the great victory he had just been given—“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).

3 When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
4 For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.

The deliverance of the psalmist is actually his vindication against the accusations and scheming of persons hostile to him. The defeat of his foes is described in terms drawn from the rout of an army; actually it is the humiliation of men who, confident in the deadly character of their charges against the psalmist, had brought their case to the temple to seek through some ritual act or some form of ordeal a pronouncement from God of the psalmist’s guilt, and had been put to shame by a divine decision contrary to their desire—For thou hast maintained my right and my cause.

The oppressed have in Him a stronghold and dependable defender. David recalls how God turned his enemies back, and in their retreat, they stumbled and perished before the Lord. Why did the Lord do this? To maintain the right of David to remain king of Israel and accomplish God’s purposes in the world.

These verses move us into the time of the kingdom that is mentioned in Psalm 8, when all things will be put under His feet. Martin Luther put it like this: “One with God is a majority.” He was not so much concerned about having God on his side, as he was of making sure he was on God’s side. The important thing to David was making sure his cause was right. Let’s make sure, dear reader, that we are on God’s side.

5 Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
6 O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.

The cause of David’s praise is recorded in these verses. The Lord manifested His righteousness (v. 4) by vindicating David’s cause. His enemies were turned back (v. 3), rebuked (not just in words, but in actions), and destroyed (v. 5). Even the name of the nations (also mentioned in vv. 15, 17, 19, 20) was blotted out. Such a description vividly portrayed their defeat—not even their name would be perpetuated. Memory of them was destroyed after their cities were destroyed (v.6). The wicked (v. 5) are obviously the heathen nations, the Philistines, etc., who did from time to time molest David, or the people of Israel. Their name refers to that fame and honor which they had gained by their former exploits, but now utterly lost by their shameful defeats.

The destructions of the enemy refers to the waste and destruction which God’s enemies had brought upon Israel before this time, which is recollected here to make the Israelites more thankful for their previous and present deliverances. Or it may be understood as prophecy of future calamities, which their enemies by God’s permission bring upon Israel, which he speaks of as something in the past and already done, after the manner of the prophets.

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