Psalm 9 — The Joy of Justice

9 I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous 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 always 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.

The world wallows in the mire of corruption and injustice, even when it’s corruption and injustice are promoted as justice. He who trusts in man will only be disappointed (Ps 118:8–9). What hope of justice can any man have under this administration of sinful man? Hope is found in trusting in God for justice, and hope is turned to joy when God’s judgment is executed against the unrighteous.

Psalm 9 is closely tied to Psalm 10. The Masoretic Text (Hebrew Bible) holds them as separate Psalms. However, the LXX (Greek version of Hebrew Bible © 200 B.C.) and Jerome’s Vulgate (Latin translation from fourth century A.D.) both hold Psalm 9 and 10 together as one psalm. This, along with a similar conflict over Psalms 114–115, leaves the Protestant numbering of the Psalms different from the Roman Catholic numbering in their respective Bibles.

David again presented his poetry to the choir director for all Israel to participate in this song of thanksgiving and lament (Title). “Muth-labben” is a unique addition to the title, possibly pointing to a particular tune, by which the Psalter is sung. Translated “Death of the Son,” it emphasizes lament.

David gave thanks to YHWH for His miraculous works (v. 1). The verbs are future tense with a cohortative mood. This suggests great intensity in the promised praise David would offer God. The miraculous wonders of creation and redemption should prompt our praise and proclamation.

David promised praise to YHWH for His name and titled position (v. 2). Joy abounds within the heart of those who know God’s deliverance. God’s name points to His exalted action, the salvation of His people. Jesus’ name captures this best, “I am Savior.” David honored YHWH with the title “El Elyon” or “Most High God.” The differentiation is important in elevating the God of Israel over the “gods” of the wicked nations.

David anticipated the downfall of his adversaries when YHWH intervened (v. 3). God’s presence produces repulsion in the reprobate. Stumbling in fearful retreat, they perish because YHWH is a consuming fire. Men must be taught to fear God.

David argued for YHWH’s position as the Ruler (King) and Judge, who knows righteousness and justice (v. 4). God does not change His standards, nor His interpretation of His Law for man. David knew a just cause would be judged correctly by a just Judge. The throne is imagery for a King, supported by 10:16.

David exposed his enemies as wicked nations, who had suffered God’s judgment in the past (v. 5). God demonstrates His indignation, daily, by displaying His wrath against ungodliness and unrighteousness (Ps 7:11; Rom 1:18). God executes judgment Himself against enemy adversaries.

David revealed the extent of God’s judgment against his and God’s enemies (v. 6). They and their habitations are utterly annihilated from existence and remembrance. In contrast, blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Ps 33:12). Only one nation represents the blessed, it is the new nation of people, citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20), called out of their earthly nations into the assembly of those in Christ Jesus (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 5:9). All the spiritual blessings of heaven are bestowed upon them (Eph 1:3).

David contrasted the temporal rule and judgment of nations with God’s eternal authority (v. 7). God rules, and His rule provides necessary judgment for sinful man. Temporal authorities rise and fall, but God has established an eternal throne (2 Pet 1:11).

David predicted God’s global, righteous judgment that will bring justice to the world (v. 8). The verbs move from past tense judgment to future tense. Daily judgment, seen in the past, is pointing to a final judgment for the whole world (Acts 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 19:11–21).

Human judgment often lacks righteousness, but righteousness is essential for justice. Justice is the trademark for God’s judgment. The balance is set equitably, and the Judge is not blind. God is omniscient to all evidence. Man is guilty and condemned already (Jn 3:18). What hope does man have?

David added comfort to those oppressed by the world system, by suggesting God was their safe place (v. 9). God’s provision for the elect includes salvation from eternal judgment and punishment (Jn 5:28–29; Rom 8:1). Suffering and often oppressed by the world, God offers Himself as a stronghold — a high place, set above the operations of the enemy. God’s people will know times of trouble, as Jesus promised (Jn 16:33); but we are to demonstrate our trust in God by seeking Him.

David argued for the righteous, who believe in YHWH, to know they will not be forsaken (v. 10). YHWH’s name represents a pinnacle function — salvation (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1). To know His name is to know His function; and whosever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Joel 2:32; Rom 10:13). God’s people know they must go to God when they are in trouble (Ps 46:1), and He does not reject their approach (Heb 13:5). God is glorified when the afflicted seek His deliverance, because He delivers, and people observe with adoration or angst.

David led the righteous in communal worship (v. 11). The focus remains on the Lord, but David calls Israel to worship God with praise. Other gods dwell in other places, but YHWH dwells in Zion. Here is the first of two epithets: “YHWH, enthroned in Zion” is similar to “Richard, the Lion-hearted.” His identity and function are merged again with “YHWH, the blood-guilt avenger.”

YHWH hears the cry of His afflicted people. The wicked are passionate to pummel the people of God. Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground, and so does Israel’s blood from the hand of oppressors. Here is the blood of the martyrs demanding justice from under the throne of God.

David presented his theology rooted in Deuteronomy 8 (v. 12). God never forgets His covenant, His covenant partner (Jesus), nor His covenant people (church/Israel).

David moved to prayer, identified himself with the seriously afflicted (v. 13). Communal praise transitions to individual prayer. Those who hate God hate God’s representatives in the world, Jesus being chief among us. “If they hate you, they hated me first,” was our Lord’s encouragement (Jn 7:7; 15:18–19).

David’s plight is near death’s door, the gates of death are here contrasted with the gates of Zion (life), God’s dwelling place. Jesus said, “I am the life” and His promise to His people is abundant and eternal life (Jn 10:10, 28–29; 14:6).

David promised YHWH that he would proclaim and delight in God’s salvation (v. 14). This is the commission of the living, in body and in soul (Mt 28:19–20; Acts 1:8). To exult in God is to know joy (Gal 5:22), the fruit of God’s Spirit (presence).

David reasoned the wicked nations’ downfall was self-inflicted (v. 15). The imagery and wisdom is seen in 5:9 and 7:15. The pit one digs becomes his own grave (see Haman in the Book of Esther). The net snares its weaver.

David argued for self-retribution being evidence of God’s judgment (v. 16). Higgaion is a musical marker, used here in association with the word for pause, “selah.” It is possible the decrescendo of judgment stalls one’s breath and prepares the singer for the crescendo to a climactic close of petition for God to act.

David reasoned that those who forgot God would be forgotten in the dust from which they came (v. 17). The plight of sinful man is captured in the funeral refrain, “From dust to dust.” The grave, along with death and hell, swallow the wicked, who have chosen to forget God (Ps 14:1; 53:1). The irony of forgetting YHWH in this life is that He forgets you in death and eternity (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15).

David comforted those who felt abandoned by YHWH with the reminder of His remembrance (v. 18). God does not deliver His people on their time schedules. His purposes in sanctification will be accomplished (Rom 8:19, 29; 15:16; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). Hope springs eternal because the promises of God are eternal. What does the righteous man do while he waits for God? Petition!

David petitioned God with the argument of God’s necessary glory to be above man (v. 19). The verbs are imperative. David refuses to allow God’s reputation to be slighted by the pride and arrogance of man. He does this from his own helpless state. The Hebrew word for man in these final verses is “enosh” representing the weak, frail, and vulnerable.

David wants the nations on trial. Here is the heart of the Christian. Jesus is the offended Ruler of the nations. Rebellion continues as the nations bow to Satan, the prince of this world (Jn 12:31; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2). Christians ask for a trial for the abortionists, the pedophiles, the adulterers, the liars, etc.; but who can stand the judgment of all the sins committed against YHWH? Jesus Christ!

David closed his petition, with the recommendation of an advocate, for the Judge to put guilty man in his proper place (v. 20). Judgment has come, and the sentence of punishment must be issued. The believer reminds the unbeliever that he is mortal man, and that should be enough to put the fear of God in him.

Justice produces thanksgiving and praise in God’s people because righteousness reigns when God judges the wicked. Salvation is granted to the righteous, for which there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). The wicked seem to prevail most days against the righteous and against the Most High God. But…Let the nations be warned! Let the nations be judged! Arise, O Lord! Protect Your people and prosecute our enemies for Your glory and for our joy!

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

May 27, 2021

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher