Going Through the Psalms – Psalm 9 – Sing Praises! (part 1)

This psalm is titled “To The Choirmaster: According to Muth-Labben. A Psalm of David.” (ESV). Having read through some commentary there is a lack of consensus and certainty as to what the term “Muth-Labben” means. The English Standard Version of the bible indicates that it is “probably a music or liturgical term.” C.H. Spurgeon speculates that it may be some reference to Goliath, that is it concerns the death of the “son” (“ben” means son in Hebrew) that from my understanding he is taking to mean the “son” of the Philistines, that is there champion. Per Spurgeon this fits thematically with the psalm which is a “triumphal hymn” (id). I am not sure where the truth lies in this matter but I thought it was worth noting as his interpretation does seem to fit with the theme. Anyways, food for thought.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

(Psalm 9:1 ESV)

We are commanded to be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV) and so this first line is appropriate and as the first line of the psalm I think it is appropriate because there are times when we should lead with thanksgiving. I know sometimes before I make petition to the Lord I try and give thanks beforehand to show my gratitude but also to bolster my confidence that he will provide my request, having provided in the past. I don’t do it enough (or at least not with the heartfeltness I should) but I think thanksgiving is a cornerstone of faith. We are thankful because we should be but also because it reminds us of God’s goodness and provision for us. It’s a particular type of remembrance that also positively frames our relationship with God.

The Lord’s thoughts and deeds toward us are beyond counting. Just because I am not aware of all the miracles he provides for me does not mean they are not occurring and thank God for that because I could in no way keep up with his grace, rather I just bow my heart in thanksgiving for it. But so often we forget his kindnesses personally and corporately. We see throughout the Old Testament that there is a corporate memory of Israel (of God’s kindnesses and Israel’s sins) that I feel is lacking in the Church today. I have personally worked on trying to incorporate asking for forgiveness for our corporate sins and those of our ancestors.

Speaking just for myself, I know I have a great reluctance to own the sins of my ancestors. I’m not them so what do I have to apologize for? But this is wrong and also isolating. I believe we do ourselves a disservice by trying to isolate ourselves in time from those who came before us and those who are to come afterward. We are part of a variety of corporate bodies, our church, our nation and mankind in general. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves we must adopt this mindset of corporate responsibility, both in the current time, in respect of the past and in our responsibility to the future. When we look back at the past and remember all of God’s kindnesses we realize we stepped into the labors of so many people who built the roads we drive on, the cities we live in and so many other things. For that alone I give God thanks. May we add to their contributions.

I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

(Psalm 9:2 ESV)

Praise is fitting for the Lord (Psalm 33:1). We should praise him at all times, the good and those we perceive as bad. Paul and Silas were singing hymns and praising God while in prison “and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25 ESV). They set the standard we must follow, even when things appear to be perilous our circumstances do not serve as commentary on or in any way change God’s mercy and steadfast love, and if we can praise God in the most dire of circumstances we serve as powerful witnesses to those other prisoners (i.e. of the world) who may be listening and may stir them to jealousy of such a faith, thereby converting their hearts and minds. What happened as a result of Paul and Silas’ praise? They were freed from prison and they converted their jailer to faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 16:25-40). Praise God.

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 names forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

(Psalm 9:3-6 ESV)

There is a God and his name is Justice. Though the righteous suffer there will come a day of judgment and the Lord who is the avenger will have his vengeance. The wicked will disappear like the grass on the housetops, not even fit to be remembered.

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.

(Psalm 9:7-8 ESV)

The Lord’s throne is established for the purpose of justice. The Lord has no human faults that we should say his judgment is unbalanced or corrupted. His scales always come out even and there is no unrighteousness in him. Moreover, his rulings establish justice. When we see the corrupt and wicked fall then we are warned about what not to do and our own righteousness (that is of Jesus Christ) is strengthened against the world and any unrighteousness in us.

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.

(Psalm 9:9-10 ESV)

Having declared his righteousness we now declare the Lord’s strength and protection for those who are oppressed. Because we call upon the name of the Lord we are saved (Romans 10:13) and so we know him and trust in him. He will never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5).

————-End of Part 1
*ESV=English Standard Version

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