Series on the Psalms, Text: Psalm 9, Title: The Proclamation of God’s Justice.


Although Psalms 9 and 10 may be considered separately as they occur in our English Bibles, we should note that in the LXX, or Greek translation of the Old Testament they are one Psalm. This is probably the original form since Psalm 10, you will notice has no superscription or title, and they form a single acrostic with the stanzas beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Both Psalms reflect on the justice of God as it terminates in the destruction of the wicked and the deliverance of His people who are identified as helpless, needy, and afflicted. Though both Psalms contain common elements, in Psalm 9 the emphasis is on praising God as his justice is proclaimed while in Psalm 10 the emphasis is on a plea for the Lord to act in the face of the delays that test the faith of the righteous. While both Psalms express confidence in the Lord, Psalm 9 does so without entertaining all the questions that arise to the mind of the believer who must trace his way through present injustice. Psalm 9 not only exhorts us to praise the Lord because of this expressed confidence, but it is a remarkable example of making generalized observations about God’s purpose and plan and applying them to our own specific needs. Psalm 9 then is a call to rejoice in worship and only incidentally reflects on the present need for deliverance. The Psalmist praises God because His throne of judgment is established as a powerful throne, a permanent throne and a personal throne.

I A Powerful Throne

In verses one through six, after exulting in God,  David rehearses God’s past activities, I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished. This is the general observation that God has favored his people by bringing them into the land of Canaan and destroying their enemies before them. Under David’s rule there was continued success in the subjugation of the nations. The language used is strongly reminiscent of exactly what God told Israel to do to the nations of Canaan because their iniquity was full. (“endless ruin, blotted out, memory perished.”) David acknowledges that this is a judgment of God. Notice verse 4 says that it is the result of God sitting on his throne judging righteously just as he told His people he was doing. These victories in which the enemies of God are exterminated are the wonders for which David praises God in verse 1. I have already mentioned that this method of reasoning and reflection is very important. The Bible is a record of God’s acts in history. For David these deliverances were of recent memory or current experience, but for us they are a matter of record. It is vital that we apply these accounts to our own personal circumstances. In order to do that we must celebrate the greatness of God in delivering his people in our worship. The Psalms help us to do that. We must rehearse the power of His throne as it has been demonstrated in the past. When David personalizes this truth in verses 13-16, he again reflects on the fate of the enemies of God in the past, O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation. The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The LORD is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

II A Permanent Throne

In verses 7-10 17 and 18 David looks to the future with confidence, The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you...The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God. But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish. Not only has God demonstrated his justice in the past sitting on his throne of justice, but he has established it forever. An important part of our celebration of God in worship is to affirm his unchanging character. Thus we exalt the greatness of the Lord God by affirming His eternity and remark that what he has done in the past he will continue to do. Psalm 8 says the Lord’s name is majestic. Psalm 9 begins with an affirmation of praise to God’s name, and in verse 10 we read those who know your name will trust in you. The very name of God focuses our attention on his unchanging nature. When Moses asked at the burning bush, “Who shall I say sent me?”, or in other words, How shall I identify you Lord? God says, tell them I am the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and Moses says, but what is your name. Tell them I am that I am, I am Yahweh, the self existent eternal God. This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered. Moses almost misses the point. The chief thing about God is that he cannot change.  A. W. Tozer once lamented the deficiency of the modern evangelical definition of faith. He says faith is not believing a statement we know to be true. There is no moral virtue in believing that of which we are convinced. That is a law of the mind. Rather he says true faith rests upon the character of God. He criticizes those who are constantly trying to support their faith by appeals to science or archaeology as well meaning but misunderstanding the true nature of faith. Then he says, and I quote, “‘I am that I am,’ is the only grounds for faith.” Faith is the response of the soul to the divine character as revealed in the Scriptures and even this is impossible apart from the prior inworking of the Holy spirit. Put these two things together, God’s revelation of his justice and his unchangeability and you have a means of meeting every situation in life.

III A Personal Throne

It is easy to overlook this element in the Psalm but notice verses 11 and 12, Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted. Where is God’s throne? It is in Zion. It is in Jerusalem, It is in Israel. It is in the midst of his people by choice. He has established it with them by his electing love. One cannot avoid seeing the strong distinction drawn between God’s favor shown to his people and the nations that reject God. As we sing praises to the Lord in Zion we are to proclaim his acts to the nations because he is our God. This is the basis of David’s confidence as he prays at the end of the psalm in verses 19 and 20, Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence.  Strike them with terror, O LORD; let the nations know they are but men. The corollary of David’s thinking for us is that Jesus has come and tabernacled among us, and he says where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.

Summary of Psalm 9

In Psalm Nine David calls us to reflect on the justice of God in worship and praise. As we contemplate the complete obliteration of God’s enemies in the conquest of Canaan we are assured of the justice of God’s rule. This rule is everlasting and will always be a refuge for his people. The throne of God’s justice is in the midst of his people whom he has chosen and leads David to plead for mercy both for himself and for his people as well as the continued destruction of all enemies.