Praying the Psalms: Psalm 9

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer.  This psalm hits many different themes. This palm of David praises God for his judgement and justice, his protection of the righteous and the poor, and calls for God for deliverance from enemies. In this psalm also we will see many ways in which it anticipates the coming of Christ. Jesus makes it clear that all the scriptures point to him, and that is most assuredly the case when it comes to Psalm 9.

Commentary

v. 1–2 - The Psalm begins as the psalmist comes before God in a posture of praise. He gives thanks to God from his whole heart as he reflects on the wonderful deeds of God. True worship comes from the depths of our souls and the very well spring of our hearts. When we come to praise God our hearts are filled with gladness. Many people search and long for happiness. In fact, humanity looks for it in many different places. Yet, true gladness and joy comes from a heart filled with worship and praise to the most high God. When we praise the Lord and give him glory, we are satisfied in God as we do what God designed us as his image bearers to do.

v. 3–6 - David turns to reflect on his enemies. He remembers the wonderful deeds of how God has preserved him and maintained his just cause. God in his justice and rule sat on his throne and administered judgement on his enemies. God is not just the God of Israel but he is the God of all nations. Even though they worship false gods and though they may reject Israel’s God, this does not mean that they escape his judgement as the one true God. This is an important principle for us to remember in this secular age. Though the world may reject and deny the very existence of God, their denial does not alleviate his sovereign justice and judgement over their lives. You cannot simply wish away God or flee from his rule.

God rebukes the nations and he makes the wicked perish. God deals justly with sinners. Those who rebel and reject his rule he will crush and he will blot out their name forever. Though God’s heart is filled with love, he is also equally filled with holiness. Since God is good and morally perfect in every way, every sinner will be punished as God executes his righteous judgement. Those who refuse the rule of God and rebel against him he will rebuke, cast out, and ruin them. David here primarily has the nations in the view, those wicked pagan people outside of Israel. God will execute his wrath on them in that their cities will be rooted out and even the very memory of them will be gone forever.

v. 7–12 - David celebrates the rule of God over this world. He is enthroned forever and though humanity may try to replace him, God is permanently fixed as King over the universe. His throne is justice and he judges the world with righteousness and uprightness. David sees this not as a frightening reality, but as worthy of praise! For the Lord is also a stronghold for the oppressed and for those who are in times of trouble.

v. 10 is key in understanding the balance of this Psalm. Those who know the name of God and trust in him will not be forsaken by God. Those who seek after the Lord and his ways will be spared not only from their enemies, but from divine judgement. Though we are all sinners, those who will be saved are those who trust God and who have entered into a relationship with him. This is exactly what God has done for us in sending his son Jesus. Jesus was crushed in our place and the judgement of God was placed on him so that the oppressed could be saved in times of trouble. The stronghold of God and the fortress of our protection is under the crucified son of God who bears the full weight of God’s wrath in our place. As we turn and place our faith in Jesus we are preserved and redeemed. Jesus is the stronghold for the oppressed and those who enter into that stronghold through the door of faith will find they are protected from God’s judgement.

This truth leads to a call of corporate praise. This good news of God’s protection of the oppressed and judgement of the wicked causes singing and praise. Not only is it worth praising God for, it is also worth telling others of his deed. As we think about the Christ and what he has done, surely this is worth sharing with other people. The world must know of the love of God and the telling of this news complete the joy of the praise. The news is summed up in verse 12, “For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” The good news is that God did not fall asleep in the watchtower He is not unaware the wicked and he himself will bring vengeance and justice by his own holy judgement. At the same time he is mindful of the oppressed people of God and remembers their cry.

v. 13–14 - The psalm turns into a prayer for help and relief in the midst of affliction. There are those who seek the life of the godly even to the very gates of death. Yet, the good news is that God is the one who lifts us up from the gates of death. Not only did Christ die, he was also raised into the resurrected life. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we die to sin and though we sit at the gates of death he lifts us from the pit and gives us a living hope and a resurrected life. David asks for help so that he might praise the Lord for his deliverance and salvation. The culmination of our salvation to deepen our joy and thus our praise of God. As God increases our joy in him so does his praise increase. God is glorified by his people’s delight in his gift he has provided, most namely the salvation given through his son Jesus.

v. 15–18 - The wicked nations will one day sink in the pit they have made. Though they may momentarily prosper, their defeat will come by the hand of God’s own judgement. He will execute it and the wicked will find themselves ensnared in the trap of their own making. We are told again just what happens to those who live in wickedness and rebellion against God. They will bear the weight of the judgement of the God who is enthroned over all. Those who forget God will be thrown into the very pit of hell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

v. 19–20 - The final cry of the psalmist is for God to arise and crush the rebellion of men. Though the nations of men may be powerful in military might or wealthy with the riches gold, they are still only mere men who cannot stand before the pure righteous wrath of the judgement of God. Though men may have such great confidence in their own ingenuity, philosophy, or wisdom, one day Jesus will arise from his throne and return to his people in the shimmering radiance of holiness and all will fear the rider on the white horse who sits on the throne. May we pray that the wicked will come to fear God now, before they will be forced too when the true King returns.

Prayer Guide

  • Ask God that your chief joy would be to extol his name in your life.
  • Pray that God would one day bring wickedness to an end
  • Thank God that he protects us from his judgement through Jesus, the stronghold.
  • Praise the Lord for the Gospel and the Lord Jesus.
  • Ask God to help you tell this good news to others
  • Thank God for the resurrection of Jesus which lifts you from the gates of death.
  • Pray that wicked men would come to fear the Lord