FAITH AND DESPERATION
Great provider of peace and rest, I am tired of being down. Lift me up today Lord, I pray.
Read PSALM 9
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.
1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
3 My enemies turn back;
they stumble and perish before you.
4 For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
7 The Lord reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
8 He rules the world in righteousness
and judges the peoples with equity.
9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
12 For he who avenges blood remembers;
he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.
13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may declare your praises
in the gates of Daughter Zion,
and there rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.[c]
17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
all the nations that forget God.
18 But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
20 Strike them with terror, Lord;
let the nations know they are only mortal.
- Psalm 9:1 Psalms 9 and 10 may originally have been a single acrostic poem in which alternating lines began with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Septuagint they constitute one psalm.
- Psalm 9:1 In Hebrew texts 9:1-20 is numbered 9:2-21.
- Psalm 9:16 The Hebrew has Higgaion and Selah (words of uncertain meaning) here; Selah occurs also at the end of verse 20.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I shall not fear the battle / if thou art by my side, / nor wander from the pathway / if thou wilt be my guide.’1
The psalmist’s emotions fluctuate between gratitude for God’s past protection and desperate pleas for God’s deliverance in the present danger. The war imagery of nations in conflict, of blood, destruction, and death, suggests that the psalmist was a warrior and the battle real, not a metaphor for personal inner conflict. The warrior psalmist had served in one of Israel’s many wars and he attributes the victories to God’s help. Now, in imminent danger, he calls out to God to protect and save him, as he has done before. The warrior psalmist believes that he is on the side of a righteous God and that the enemy are the ‘wicked’ (v 5), opposing God’s people. Yet, rather than exuding confidence, there is a note of desperation in his words. He calls upon God to see his peril and save him from the ‘gates of death’ (v 13).
This is the psalmists’ quandary, the dilemma of all the righteous, the good and godly people living under the old covenant. They believed in a simple equation. The righteous, who followed God and obeyed God’s Law would be blessed,2 whereas the wicked, who did not acknowledge and obey God, would be cursed.3 Despite their trust in God, however, people began to see that the equation did not always work. Good people sometimes suffered while bad people often triumphed. This becomes very evident in Psalm 10, originally part of the same psalm. ‘Why, Lord, do you stand far off?’, the psalmist asks.4 Why does God do nothing when the wicked crush the poor? Why does God let the wicked boast of their prosperity and revile God? The answers lay in a distant future which some psalmists ‘saw … from a distance’5 but none truly understood, a future when, through Christ, all the redeemed people of God would finally experience unending peace and justice in God’s eternity.
‘[God] will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’6
Heavenly Father, thank you for involvement in my life. Help to see your hand in the small happenings of my daily life.
1 John Ernest Bode, 1816–74, ‘O Jesus, I have promised’ 2 Deut 28:1–14 3 Deut 28:15–68 4 Ps 10:1 5 Heb 11:13 6 Rev 21:3
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