New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 9:1 For the Chief Musician. Set to The Death of the Son- Or, "the death of the champion". J.W. Thirtle gave evidence to suggest that the titles of the Psalms have sometimes become muddled, with the titles of some Psalms intended to be relevant to the preceding Psalm, in this case Psalm 8. This would lend weight to the suggestion that Psalm 8 is David's reflections after the death of Goliath. However there are elements of Psalm 9 which are also clearly appropriate to the victory over Goliath, although the ideas have been developed, under inspiration, relevant to other situations.


A Psalm by David. I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart. I will tell others of all Your marvellous works- Wonder leads to worship, to that flame of praise which is the worship "in spirit and in truth" which the Father seeks. But wonder adds awe and reverence to that worship. And we have to ask how much of that there is in much popular worship today, be it in starchy hymns or rock music. 1 Chron. 16:9 makes the connection between wonder and worship quite plain: "Sing unto him, sing praises unto him; talk of all his wonders". Likewise Ps. 9:1: "I will praise you O Lord; I will show forth all your wonders".

Psa 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in You, I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High-
The four lines in :1,2 each begin with Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; a reminder we are reading Hebrew poetry set to music, for easy  memorization by illiterate people. The singing of praise, however, was to be from the "whole heart" (:1), rather than the external appearance of praise which was common in religious thought at the time (cp. Is. 29:13).  

Psa 9:3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish in Your presence-
David therefore felt God's presence with him in his victories. "Presence" is literally "face", and the idea seems to be that the rout of the Egyptians in Ex. 14:24 was repeatedly seen in David's experience of victories- a turning and fleeing at the revelation of God's face / presence.


Psa 9:4 For You have maintained my just cause-
Again we get the impression that David veers towards self righteousness, attributing his victories to his own rightness rather than God's grace / undeserved favour.


You sit on the throne judging righteously- Continually David expresses his understanding that judgment is ongoing right now, although there will come a future day when those judgments are articulated more visibly.


Psa 9:5 You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked, You have blotted out their name forever and ever-
This appears to be a prophetic perfect, David looking forward to the time when all nations would be gathered and judged (see on Ps. 7:7,8). For the name of the wicked had not been blotted out eternally in David's time, and he later complains as to the continuing prosperity of the wicked in his own time.

Psa 9:6 The enemy is overtaken by endless ruin. The very memory of the cities which You have overthrown has perished-
As discussed on :5, the "endless ruin" of the wicked had not then occurred, and looks to the future. The overthrowing of cities alludes to that of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:25,29; Jer. 20:16; 50:40). David understood the day of judgment to be a visible, clear, miraculous Divine intervention- which didn't occur in his time.

Psa 9:7 But Yahweh reigns forever, He has prepared His throne for judgment-
As explained on :5,6, David is not saying that the judgment has already come; God is actively judging right now (:4), but that is preparation for the future day of judgment. Appreciating this means that we live our lives before the judgment presence of God.

Psa 9:8 He will judge the world in righteousness, He will administer judgment to the peoples in uprightness-
This is quoted in Acts 17:31 concerning the final day of judgment at the Lord's return. David feels God's judgment is ongoing now (Ps. 9:4), but that is preparation for the future day of judgment. Appreciating this means that we live our lives before the judgment presence of God.

Psa 9:9 Yahweh will also be a high tower for the oppressed; a high tower in times of trouble-
David sees that Yahweh will be a "high tower" or place of refuge at the day of future judgment (Ps. 9:8,9, quoted about this in Acts 17:31). But David feels God has been like this to him in this life (2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 18:2; 46:7; 48:3; 59:9,16,17; 62:2; 94:22; 144:2). He therefore sees a seamless experience in his relationship with God in this life, and at the future day of judgment. God saves us right now and is a refuge for us in countless life situations; and this is the guarantee that He will be likewise at the last day.

Psa 9:10 Those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek You-
Faith or trust in God is inspired by knowing or experiencing ['knowing' in the Hebraic sense] the Name of Yahweh. This doesn't mean that knowing the spelling or pronunciation of that Name gives faith; rather, our experience of the characteristics of God's Name, His personality, inspires faith. And Biblical history, as well as our own personal history, is a knowing / experience of that Name.

Psa 9:11 Sing praises to Yahweh who dwells in Zion, and declare among the people what He has done-
The Psalms are full of reference to David's evangelical zeal to take the message of Yahweh, the God whose sanctuary was in Zion, to the Gentile nations. Israel were intended to be a missionary nation, bringing others around them to Zion and relationship with Yahweh. But David was one of the very few who grasped this.

Psa 9:12 For He who avenges blood remembers them. He doesn’t forget the cry of the afflicted-
This sounds as if it may have been added, under inspiration, in the context of the exiles. For David had not personally been slain by Saul, nor, so far as we know, had his immediate family members. Perhaps the murder of Abiathar's family was initially in view (1 Sam. 22:22).

Psa 9:13 Have mercy on me, Yahweh. See my affliction by those who hate me-
The same words are used when David thanks God for saving him from "those who hate me" (Ps. 18:17; 2 Sam. 22:18). That thanksgiving was because he had prayed for salvation from "those who hate me" in Ps. 9:13 (s.w.). We have here a direct example of gratitude for answered prayer.

And lift me up from the gates of death- David so often expresses the feeling that he is really about to die. Perhaps he struggled with some medical condition which made him often feel as if he were about to die from it. Or perhaps this is how close Saul got to slaying him, multiple times. Again this is an allusion to Job's feelings (Job 38:17).

Psa 9:14 that I may show forth all Your praise. In the gates of the daughter of Zion I will rejoice in Your salvation-
Morally disgraced in the eyes of all Israel and even the surrounding nations, not to mention his own family, David didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to telling other people how to live their lives. A lesser man than David would have resigned all connection with any kind of preaching. But throughout the Bathsheba psalms there is constant reference to David's desire to go and share the grace of God which he had experienced with others (Ps. 32 title; 51:13). He titles them ‘maschil’- for instruction / teaching. “Have mercy upon me, O Lord...that I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates” (Ps. 9:13,14).

Psa 9:15 The nations have sunk down in the pit that they made. In the net which they hid, their own foot is taken-
This again is true, but we note David's apparent lack of desire to offer repentance to his abusers; for the way of God is to save those who are in the holes dug by themselves. For we are all in that position. We wonder what nations David has in view; perhaps his words are purely prophetic.

Psa 9:16 Yahweh has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. The wicked is snared by the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah-
As suggested on :15, this appears to be the prophetic perfect. But it could be that David has himself in view. For he feels that the snares of death were around him (Ps. 18:5). Divine judgment is a making of Himself known; they articulate who He essentially is. People learn the knowledge of Him, His righteousness, through His judgments being in the earth (Is. 26:9).

Psa 9:17 The wicked shall be turned back to Sheol, even all the nations that forget God-
"Turned back" sounds like "the second death" (Rev. 20:4). All die and go to Sheol, but those resurrected and condemned at the final judgment will be sent back there again. "The wicked" in David's experience are parallel with "the nations".

Psa 9:18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever-
The implication is that the final judgment will be when the poor receive their hope, an the needy are never again be forgotten. So this confirms that the situation here is that at the Lord's return.

Psa 9:19 Arise, Yahweh! Don’t let man prevail. Let the nations be judged in Your sight-
This is a clear desire for the latter day of judgment. The sight or presence of God would be through the return of His Son the Lord Jesus.

Psa 9:20 Put them in fear, Yahweh, and let the nations know that they are only men. Selah-
The intention of judgment day is to reveal to men that they are only men. This was what Job had to learn through suffering when relatively innocent; he had to recognize his own humanity. The implication is that human sin is all about playing God and considering ourselves more than men, i.e. effectively playing God. This was the essence of Adam's sin, according to how it is interpreted in Phil. 2- a grasping at equality with God, in a way in which even His Son refused to do.