1, I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.
2, I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
3, When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before Your presence.
4, For You have maintained my just cause; You have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5, You have rebuked the nations; You have made the wicked perish; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6, The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities You rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
7, But the LORD sits enthroned forever; He has established His throne for justice,
8, and He judges the world with righteousness; He judges the peoples with uprightness.
9, The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of troubles.
10, And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
11, Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples His deeds!
12, For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13, Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O You who lift me up from the gates of death,
14, that I may recount all Your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.
15, The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16, The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.
17, The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
18, For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19, Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before You!
20, Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men!
This psalm is a bit longer longer than the previous eight we’ve looked at so far. This entire psalm seems to be praising God for His promise made in Deuteronomy 32:35, “Vengeance is mine, and recompense,” which Paul repeats in Romans 12:19. At the beginning, David begins with thanks and praise, but we don’t know why yet. That isn’t revealed until verse three. Here, we just know David is praising God with his entire being for the wonderful deeds He’s done. As I read through the psalm, it appeared to me that David is reminiscing about the past, not the present. It looks as though David is looking into his past and recognizing the many great deeds God has done in his life. So, in awe of these things, he responds with praise, which is a proper response. Perhaps some of us can relate when we look into the past of our own lives. Whenever I look into my own past, I see how God was there as I was beaten up every day in kindergarten by a Caucasian 5th grader for being biracial, I see Him throughout my entire depression, I see Him during my time in the Army, and many other times of my life. When I think on these things, like David, I turn to praise God. David remembered these horrible experiences as people sought to kill him throughout his entire life, and instead of blaming God for all these bad things and claiming He was absent, he instead recognizes God was there and gives Him praise. May we all be like David as we remember our own dark pasts. Instead of blaming God for the evil that has happened to us, let us instead recognize where He was present and turn to praise in thanksgiving.
Now we know why David is praising God: God conquered his enemies. Consider our enemies today. It may seem like they’re unstoppable, but think back on all the enemies of God as recorded in the Bible. None of them stood a chance against Him when He chose to deliver His people. Our enemies today have no chance against God. As the anointed king of Israel, David knew his cause was just, but how do we know if our causes today are just? We have Scripture. If any cause we support is supported by Scripture, then we know it’s just. This is how we know abortion is murder because of how Scripture speaks of life in the womb. We know murder itself is wrong, and theft, bullying, gossip, and so on because of what Scripture has to say about these things.
Verses 5 and 6 have a striking revelation. God’s destruction against our enemies can be so massive that they completely disappear from the historical register, such as the Canaanites, whom God gave Israel the power to overthrow; and no historical or archaeological record of them can be found. This reveals the harrowing truth God the Creator forgets those who die apart from faith in Christ.
Here, David acknowledges God as the true ruler of Israel and all the earth and will always uphold righteousness. He judges all people according to the standard of His righteousness, which has been revealed in the Law. The Law is so damning because it reveals to us God’s holiness and righteousness, which we are incapable of attaining on our own. As believers, we become justified by faith through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. So when we are judged as believers, God judges us covered in the blood of Christ; we are judged as if we never sinned because the works of Christ justify our sins. Of course, this does not mean we can continue to sin and do whatever we want (Romans 6:1-4). Those outside the faith, however, will be judged according to the righteousness of God revealed in the Law, and as Revelation shows us, it is not a pretty image.
Not only does God sit as Judge over all the earth, He is also our place of refuge—a fortress in times of trouble. Jesus mirrors this fortress of refuge in Matthew 11:28-30:“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” But what does this look like? It’s easy to say this and just move on, but what does such refuge look like? We can’t run to the arms of the physical Jesus, so how do we take advantage of these inviting words? Prayer is a huge key. The Greek word for prayer is προσευχή (pros-ew-KAY), which in the New Testament is always used as a “personal address to Israel’s deity” (Danker, 303). Prayer is a personal address—a personal conversation with God! Prayer is the way in which we can take our problems and concerns directly to God! That is how we run to Him as our refuge. How exactly He will lighten our burdens, I can’t say, because that will always vary. What I do know is God promises to be our refuge through Jesus, He wants us to address Him personally in prayer, and in this personal relationship He will do something amazing to give us rest. As David reminds us in verse 10, when we put our trust in Him He does not forsake us.
Because God willingly does all this for us through His unconditional love, He deserves our praise. (Also keep in mind Zion is the personification of Jerusalem.) For the many things God has done for us on our behalf, let us be quick to tell others what He has done for us. Whether it’s the Gospel message of Jesus Christ dying for our sins, or something more personal in our lives God has done, we should be so eager to share the news with other people in our joviality. When we’re afflicted, we cry out to God, and He answers. When He delivers us from our afflictions, let us respond with praise and evangelism. By evangelism I don’t mean going out into the streets and preaching. Proper evangelism is sharing the Gospel in relationships with the people we know.
In ancient Mesopotamia, the people believed right after death, the deceased would pass through seven gates on their way to the netherworld. Here, David uses that language in reference to Hell, acknowledging only God can save him from such damnation. He desires this salvation so he may rejoice in God’s grace to grant him this gift of salvation. This is David’s own recognition that we have no power to save ourselves from Hell and attain salvation, but that it comes from God alone—a great foreshadowing of Ephesians 2:8-9.
It is interesting David calls the destruction of the godless nations a self-made trap. They set out to destroy, but in their own evil efforts they set themselves up for destruction. Indeed, such evil efforts against God and His people are fruitless. While our enemies may take our lives, God’s vengeance is inevitable (remember Deuteronomy 32:35and Romans 12:19). God might give the wicked several chances to turn from their ways and know Him so they might live (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9), but His kindness will not last forever. Eventually, God will seek His vengeance for the sake of His people. Evil sets a trap for itself in that as soon as it is manifested, God seeks to destroy it, but not without seeking to reform it first. As David recounts in verse 16, God has made Himself known. The wicked are already aware of God’s actions against His enemies, but in their wickedness they choose to believe they are exempt from His wrath from whatever fallacy they can devise (e.g. God doesn’t exist, God doesn’t interfere with humanity). Or, as Paul says, “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). We may not be able to visibly perceive God, but all of creation shows His existence and nature and even history has testified to His existence. These are His “fingerprints,” if you will, and the wicked ignore the forensic evidence.
Again, David speaks on how the wicked who remain unrepentant are doomed to Hell. God does not forget His people, especially when they are in the midst of trials and persecution. It is easy to assume God is absent when we’re facing trials and persecution, at least for us Westerners. For those Christians facing persecution in the East, they often have more faith and reliance on God than we do because Jesus is literally all they have left. They have nothing, but they also have everything. They know God has not forgotten them because even while in the midst of horrific persecution, they see God’s blessing in their lives. What those blessings are, I can’t say, because I don’t know. But I do see that even when they have nothing, they realize having Jesus is having everything.
Here, David prays for God to judge the nations so they may know the fear of the Lord. We’ve probably made some similar prayers ourselves, even for our own nation. The nations, especially our own, need to be reminded they are only men. With the power we imagine ourselves to have, in reality we have little power. David praying for the nations to know the fear of the Lord is a proper prayer because it is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:20). Let us pray for the same, for if the people of this nation fear the Lord, it is right to assume they will begin to know His wisdom. God does not convert nations, but He does convert people. If people begin to know a relationship with God, only then can the world begin to change.
Psalm 9 Prayer
Father, thank You for all You have done in my life [feel free to be specific]. You have defeated my enemies long before my birth, and even as I live today. As You rule over all the earth, judge us according to Your righteousness, and in Your mercy. Give my enemies the chance to know You. If they refuse, deliver us from them. You are my refuge, and so I come to You with my troubles [feel free to list anything that’s troubling you]. I trust Your Word, and I ask for Your consolation so I may return with praise on my lips. Keep me safe this day [or night] from my enemies of this world and from Satan and his demons. You have made Yourself known, O Lord; let as many as You will come to know You. Even though I am in the midst of trials and persecution, I know You will not forget me. Lastly, Father, I pray for my nation. Its people are straying further away from You. Let them properly fear You so they may gain wisdom in order to live as You command us to live. Let our rulers fear You and gain Your wisdom so they may govern us wisely, for their governance has fallen into foolishness. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
Danker, Frederick W., and Kathryn Krug. The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2009. Print.
Garrick Sinclair "Ricky" Beckett first started his Christian writing on a blog titled "The Lutheran Column" where he hires proficient Lutheran writers to convey biblical truth. Along with the blog, he also writes poetry, string quartets in music composition, enjoys doing photography, reading, and playing video games. Ricky is a graduate from Concordia University-Ann Arbor from the Pre-Seminary program with a major in Christian Thought and a minor in Theological Languages. Currently, Ricky is a seminarian at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as he works on his Masters of Divinity to become a pastor in the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod).
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