God cannot be defeated – Psalm 9

Psalms of David

Psalms in Book 1 (Psalms 1 to 41) are mostly personal songs, so I will be looking at how they apply to us personally. Social and communal aspects of life and work do not come in until the later books of psalms.

According to a Rabbinic source I have found, Muth-Labban in the psalm title means “On the death of Labban.” There are contenders for who Labban was or who he represented, these include:

  • Laban in the book of Genesis, whose name is used symbolically for someone who showed care for family members. Therefore someone who had shown concern for David’s family,
  • Someone from Labban near Alexandria on the North Egyptian coast,
  • A Lebanese person,
  • Some think the psalm was written to celebrate David’s victory over Goliath.

In short, we have no idea whose death prompted David to write Psalm 9.

The ruins of a Greek temple, with statues for pillars, looks down on a modern city.
Photo by Josiah Lewis on Pexels.com

The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
    they stumble and perish before[c] your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause;
    you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgement.
You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
    you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
    their cities you rooted out;
    the very memory of them has perished.
But the Lord sits enthroned for ever;
    he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
    he judges the peoples with uprightness.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
    Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
    he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O Lord!
    See my affliction from those who hate me,
    O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
    that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
    I may rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
    in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgement;
    the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion.[d] Selah

17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
    all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
    and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.
19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
    let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O Lord!
    Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

Psalm 9 is the first of the acrostic psalms, songs where the lines follow the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 9 is unusual in that it only uses half of the Hebrew alphabet, the second half is used in Psalm 10. The Selah at the end of Psalm 9 indicates that the psalm is to be continued, as it did in Psalm 3. The theme on the 8 verses 2 to 9 at the beginning of Psalm 8 is echoed in verses 8 – 15 in Psalm 10. But enough of psalm 10 for now, that post will follow. 186

God will always punish the wicked is the theme of this Psalm and it takes us on a journey through the natural decline from the starting point to total annihilation.

The empires mentioned in the Bible are gone. Where are the Egyptians now? Or the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians Greeks and Romans? The land is still there but empires wane to make way for what is new. 150 years ago there was a British Empire, it too is gone, and because of the way the countries in the empire were exploited and their people badly treated I see that as a good thing. Things that go against the will of God will come to an end.

This is still a prayer for help, but david knows the heart of God, that a culture built against the will of God, a culture based on exploitation, contains the seeds of its own destruction. It will come to an end.

And if it built on a foundation that is not of God it will come to an end, that includes the one we are in now.

< Psalm 8 | Psalm 9 | Psalm 10 >
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