A Meditation on Psalm 9
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.
But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
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,
that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.
The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah
The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
Psalm 9 is a tour de force. It incorporates many of the themes and motifs of the previous eight psalms into a full-throated hymn of praise and manages to do so quite concisely. God is addressed as King and Judge. He rules in favor of His people and against the heathen. He protects the poor and the oppressed and avenges the afflicted.
The psalm encourages us to think of the Lord as an “all of the above” sort of God. Psalm 1 showed us that God upholds the righteous. Psalm 2 showed us God as King against the nations. The early lament psalms (Psalms 3-7) showed us God as refuge for His afflicted ones. Psalm 8 showed us God glorifying His people. Psalm 9 shows us all of that and more. Whatever our concern, we can rest assured that our God will render righteous judgments in all things.
The Lord’s righteousness is in His judgment. The psalm begins and ends with the Lord’s judgment: “…you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment,” and, “…let the nations be judged before you.” “He has established his throne for justice.” He judges between the nations. He remembers the needy in their plight. He avenges innocent blood. In all cases, God is just.
Because God is just, we know that He will hear our cries. “Be gracious to me, O Lord,” begs the psalmist. “See my affliction from those who hate me.” We can cry out to the Lord in confidence, because we know the greatness of His justice.
The psalm is also a subtle warning to us. What will become of us if we sing the praises of a just God but are ourselves crooked in our judgments? What protection do we expect from the “stronghold for the oppressed” if we ourselves are oppressors? What do we expect to gain from the Hope of the poor if we ourselves impoverish our brothers for gain? Let us meditate on these words: “The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.”