Most people are familiar with the comic book heroes called the Avengers. These heroes work as a team to defeat the most powerful villains. Near the end of the Avengers movie the Hulk defeats Loki and then comments, “Puny god.”
The Bible also has an Avenger. This Avenger is not a puny god or flawed super hero. This Avenger is so powerful He does not need a team other than His own triune nature.
Psalm 9 is a psalm of praise declaring the works of our Avenger and calling for Him to come to our rescue.
Structurally Psalm 9 is based on a partial alphabetic acrostic. The beginning of every other verse is a letter of the Hebrew alphabet using the 1st 11 letters minus daleth, or what equates to our letter “D”. (This pattern is shift by one verse for the letters he, “E”, and Kaf, “K”.) Many scholars believe Psalm 9 and 10 are really one psalm with the continuation of the alphabet being loosely found in Psalm 10.
Another interesting thing about the structure of this psalm is the shifts between words spoken to God and those spoken about God or about the wicked. As someone who lead choirs for almost 30 years, it has the feel of a soloist singing to God and a choir responding.
The center of the psalm and central idea is found in verse 11.
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
One final piece of trivia is that the psalm uses God’s covenant name, YHWH, 9 times and it is psalm 9. This could be coincidence but it is interesting to note that we have already noticed this same technique in Psalm 7 and Psalm 5.
Praise God for His Justice
In verses 1-2 the psalmist praises God through four proclamations of “I will…” These four proclamations include five different forms of praise: give thanks, tell, be glad, rejoice and sing. He then declares the justice of God by four proclamations of “You have…”: upheld the right, rebuked the nations, blotted out their names and uprooted their cities.
This just action of the Judge is also declared to be permanent. It is “for ever and ever”, “endless” and even their memory has perished.
Trust God for His Justice
Verse 7 begins with a sudden change of address from talking to God to talking about God. It is as if the choir picks up the theme of God’s justice and calls upon everyone to trust God.
While God’s enemies are destroyed, God, Himself, is forever. Therefore we can place our hope fully in our eternal Judge.
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Therefore we can praise our God who, as verse 12 tells us, is the Avenger who remembers. God will not ignore our afflictions.
Just as section 1 began with praise, section 2 ends with a call to praise.
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
God, Please Bring Justice Now!
This section begins and ends with prayers to God for rescue. The psalmist is at the “gates of death” because of persecution. He cries out to God to rescue him so he can praise God in the “gates of Zion”.
These two prayers envelop a description of the wicked and their fate. This description shifts once again from first person to third person as if the choir responds to David’s prayer with a declaration of hope.
The choir describes what the fall of the wicked will be like. The wicked have rejected God so God twists all their plans so that what they desire instead happens to them. They fall in their own pit and get caught in their own net
The wicked have forgotten God, but God will never forget the needy! The wicked will perish but the hope of the needy will never perish!
This psalm is a great example of how we can pray when in distress. Even though David is at the “gates of death” because of the actions of the wicked, he spends the majority of the psalm praising and declaring the justice of God. David does not see God’s protection at the moment but he knows that God is just and will never forsake him.
Are you feeling oppressed by the evil of this world? Praise God and trust Him. He never forgets or forsakes those who seek him!
Next, when we look at Psalm 10, David continues to ponder God’s justice and wonders why God hides himself in times of trouble.