Psalm 9

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 28, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Psalm 9 is 20 verses long so I’m not going to copy the entire thing for you here, but I encourage you to click that link and go read it. One reason I wanted to write about this psalm is that it’s a really neat one in Hebrew because it’s an acrostic, albeit an incomplete one. With a few exceptions, each verse beings with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to kaph.

Many believe that Psalms 9 and 10 were once all one psalm, because Psalm 10 appears to complete the acrostic that was started with Psalm 9. Both psalms are individual lament psalms so they’re thematically similar, yet can also definitely stand on their own. Both are not quite complete acrostics, but it’s still an interesting feature of these two psalms.

The 20 verses of Psalm 9 also contain a pattern of parallelism, in that the ideas of the first 10 verses are repeated in the second 10 verses. Verses 1-2 (and 11-14) tell of praise, verses 3-6 (and 15-18) talk about judgment on the wicked, and verses 7-10 (and 19-20) discuss hope in God’s justice.

But what about the content of this psalm? It starts out in verses 1-2 with David, the psalmist, praising God. Even though this psalm is ultimately a lament, we can and should still praise God no matter what! He is always God and is always sovereign, even if things aren’t going the way we might like them to go in our lives. He is always worthy of our praise!

The verbs in these first two verses are what’s called cohortative, which express David’s determination, depth, and intensity in praising God. Just look at the verbs: praise, tell, be glad, rejoice, and sing praise. Can you praise God that intensely when you’re about to express your sorrow? I know that’s a difficult thing for me to do.

Next, the psalm moves on to expressing judgment on the wicked in verses 3-6. David is praying that God will judge his enemies, those who have come against him and caused him harm in some way. He prays this in such a way that it almost sounds like God has already done these things, but David has that much confidence in the character that he knows God to have.

It is because David knows God so well that he can then move on to a confident hope in God’s justice in verses 7-10. The beginning of verse 7 sums this up: “The Lord reigns forever!” That is truly where David’s hope lies, in God’s eternal nature and His constant sovereignty over all of creation. The verb for “reigns” in the Hebrew can also be translated as to dwell or remain; God will dwell forever because He is the eternal God.

This belief that God is reigning forever is still true for us today as well, a three thousand or so years later. Because God still reigns, we can still place our hope, our trust, and our faith in Him! He has not changed and He will never change; He is still reigning over everything. Verse 10 tells us, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” The verb for “know” here is the most intimate kind of knowing; it’s more than simply knowing what a person’s name is but more knowing who they are and what their character is like. When we develop a relationship with God and try to know Him more closely, we trust in Him, and we can have confidence that He will never forsake us.

Out of this knowledge, the psalm again turns to praise in verses 11-14. While verses 1-2 were more of an individual praise, in this section he invites the community to join him in praising God for what He has done. David asks God to deliver the people from the evil going on in their lives, so that they might praise Him even more.

In verses 15-18, we see again how God will judge the wicked. Again, we see David acting as if these acts already done even though he is asking for them; that is the confidence He has in God’s character and how God will punish those who deserve His punishment. He states that “The Lord is known by his acts of justice” (verse 16).

The psalm ends with strong hope in God’s justice and deliverance for His people in verses 19-20. The belief is that when God judges those who do not know Him, they will then recognize who He is and put their faith in Him. God must provide justice and judgment for all peoples because that is His character. Through delivering His own people by punishing their enemies, the hope is that all will come to know Him better.

But what does all that have to do with us today? As with all writings in the Bible, this was not written directly for you and me, but for the people of King David’s time. But the principles in it still apply to us today. Praise God through all things, expect that God will complete what lines up with His character, and put your hope in Him for deliverance from whatever affliction you’re dealing with. The God we can have relationship with today is the same God that King David had a relationship with, so we should still praise Him no matter what and put our faith in Him to always accomplish His good purposes.

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