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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 9

Verses 1-2

In view of the aspects of Yahweh’s character that he would yet describe, David said he would thank God wholeheartedly. He would announce His extraordinary works publicly, rejoice in Him, and sing the praises of the Most High. [Note: See VanGemeren’s excursus on Yahweh as El Elyon, the Most High, pp. 123-24.]

Verses 1-12

1. Praise for righteous judgment 9:1-12

This first section speaks of God as the righteous Judge in whom the afflicted may hope.

Verses 1-20

Psalms 9

The Septuagint translators combined Psalms 9, 10 into one psalm, even though they are separate in the Hebrew text. Consequently, from this psalm through Psalms 147, the numbering of the psalms in the Roman Catholic versions of the Bible differs from the numbering in the Protestant versions. The Roman Catholic versions follow the Septuagint (Greek) and Vulgate (Latin) versions, whereas the Protestant versions follow the Hebrew Bible. Twice the Septuagint translators combined or renumbered two psalms into one (Psalms 9, 10 into 9, and Psalms 114, 115 into 113), and twice they divided two psalms into four (Psalms 116 into 114 and 115, and Psalms 147 into 146 and 147).

The Septuagint translators evidently combined Psalms 9, 10 for two reasons. First, together they complete a somewhat modified acrostic in which each verse (almost) begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Second, the same unusual terms and the same basic structure occur in both psalms, suggesting that they may have been linked originally (e.g., "in times of trouble," Psalms 9:9 and Psalms 10:18; "the nations," Psalms 9:5; Psalms 9:15; Psalms 9:17; Psalms 9:19-20 and Psalms 10:16; and a closing emphasis on man’s mortality, Psalms 9:20 and Psalms 10:18). In spite of these similarities, the differences between Psalms 9, 10 justify their separation. Each psalm is complete in itself and has its own purpose. Psalms 9 is a positive song of thanksgiving, whereas Psalms 10 is a negative complaint and petition dealing with the godless. Both psalms are individual laments.

David praised God for demonstrating His righteousness in judging wicked nations in Psalms 9. He expressed gratitude that the afflicted can trust in such a Judge. He concluded with a petition that the Lord would remove affliction from him so he could honor God by thanking Him for His deliverance. He did not identify his enemy specifically, perhaps to enable the Israelites to use this individual lament as a community lament.

In the title, the word "Muth-labben" (NASB) means "The Death of the Son" (NIV), which was evidently a tune name.

Verses 3-6

Here are the reasons for David’s delight. God had vindicated him by punishing the nations that had opposed him as God’s vice-regent. God had given a thorough victory. The cities of some of his enemies and even their names had perished, suggesting the complete annihilation of these groups, perhaps tribes or smaller nations. Behind his own throne, David saw Yahweh ruling in heaven and granting him the victory.

Verses 7-8

In contrast to those whose names had perished (Psalms 9:5), the Lord’s name would abide forever because He will rule forever as a righteous judge. In view of this, those most in need of a righteous judge to give them justice, namely, the afflicted and the oppressed, may flee to Him in their distress. The basis of hope in prayer is the belief that the Lord rules.

Verses 9-10

The concept of God as a refuge occurs often in the psalms. A "stronghold" (Heb. misgob, also translated "refuge" and "fortress") is a high place of security and protection. When David fled from Saul he often took refuge in strongholds (1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 23:29). However, he regarded the Lord Himself as the best of these (cf. Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

Verses 11-12

David closed this pericope of praise (Psalms 9:1-12), by appealing to the afflicted and oppressed, to praise God and testify to others about God’s care of them. The NIV and marginal NASB reading "avenges bloodshed" (Psalms 9:12) more clearly expresses David’s thought than "requires blood" (cf. Genesis 9:5).

Verses 13-14

The psalmist appealed for God’s grace in defense from the attacks of those who hated him. God could save him from death. If He would do so, David promised to praise the Lord publicly among His people in Jerusalem. The "daughter of Zion" is a metaphor for the city of God (e.g., Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 10:32) and the people of God (e.g., Micah 4:8).

Verses 13-20

2. Petition for present deliverance 9:13-20

Since God had proved faithful to uphold the afflicted righteous in the past, David called on Him to deliver him from his present evil enemies.

Verses 15-16

These verses are probably an expression of David’s confidence that the Lord would deliver him in anticipation of that deliverance (cf. Revelation 18:2). The psalmist had already seen the wicked ensnared in their own traps many times, and he was sure this would happen again (cf. Psalms 7:15).

"Higgaion" is probably a musical notation specifying quieter music. [Note: Kidner, p. 37.]

Verses 17-18

The psalmist contrasted the ends of the wicked and the oppressed needy. He set those who forget God opposite those who remember Him. In Old Testament thinking, remembering God is a term that describes continuing to have faith in God. Forgetting God pictures the opposite, namely, turning away from God. The Lord will not forget those who remember Him (trust in Him), but those who forget Him have no hope of escaping death when they need deliverance from it.

Verses 19-20

David concluded this psalm with a request for God to remind the nations of their frail mortality-by judging them. Hopefully this would mean they would stop opposing the godly. Again (cf. Psalms 8:4), David used the word ’enosh ("man" and "men") to emphasize man in his frail mortality (cf. Genesis 3:19; Psalms 8:4; Psalms 39:11; Psalms 144:4).

God’s people should remember God’s past acts of deliverance and praise Him publicly for these as we face the opposition of wicked enemies of righteousness. On the basis of God’s past faithfulness, we can have confidence in His protection in our present and future distresses.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 9". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.