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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 9


Psalms 9

God’s righteousness, in assisting His people, and humbling their ungodly enemies, is praised, Psalms 9:1-6. From what God has done, a conclusion is drawn as to what He is, righteous, and an helper to the oppressed, Psalms 9:7-13. From the consciousness of what the Lord had formerly done, and what He is, the Psalmist, or rather the people in whose name he speaks, raise the prayer that He would graciously assist them, as heretofore, against all their other and still unsubdued enemies, who threaten them with destruction, Psalms 9:13-14. They receive the assurance of an acceptable hearing, Psalms 9:15, Psalms 9:17; and conclude with the hope, that God will verify His word, Psalms 9:18-19, and with the prayer that He would do so, Psalms 9:19-20. The opinion of Koester, that the author has observed a six-membered strophe, is not well founded. To secure that, we should need to divide what belongs to one part, and throw together what belongs to different ones.

The superscription attributes the Psalm to David, and no weight is due to the reasons which have been alleged to the contrary. Even by critics like Hitzig the authorship of David is admitted, both of this and the next Psalm. In support of this, he mentions the rough and abrupt style, the archaisms, and many traits in common with those Psalms which are certainly David’s. The precise time, however, in the life of David to which the Psalm is to be referred, cannot be determined; for nothing more definite can be learned from the Psalm itself than, 1. That it must have been composed after Zion had become the sanctuary of the nation, by the removal thither of the ark of the covenant,—the Lord being spoken of in Psalms 9:11 as “dwelling in Zion;” and, 2. That it was composed at a time when some of the external enemies had been conquered, and while others were still threatening danger: But in such a position David was placed almost through the whole of his life. Indeed, this is the case with God’s Church in general upon earth. In the ecclesia militans, the words, “I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,” are constantly succeeded by “Have mercy upon me, O Lord.” The Psalm, besides, may be fully explained without any more exact historical reference. The matter is so general, that one is obliged to suppose that David, from the very first, penned the Psalm for the use of the people, when pressed with danger from foreign adversaries. There is nothing to set against this supposition, if we refer the first part, Psalms 9:1-12, not to any particular transaction, but in general to all the deliverances which God had granted to His people. The sacred penman makes grateful remembrance of this, that, by such a recognition of the past, he might render God more inclined to listen to the prayer which follows. The view now taken contributes much to set the Psalm in its true light. Especially does it serve to make the general bearing of the entire first part clear. The relation of this part to the second has been very much misunderstood by De Wette. He conceives that it only contains the hope, that the Lord would subdue the enemies, confidently expressed. But we only need to consider the representation more closely, in order to see that it expresses, not hope for help to be afforded, but thanksgiving for benefits already conferred. De Wette himself is obliged to admit that “the Psalm certainly stands in this respect alone.” Here, and in a multitude of other Psalms, thanks and praise are offered up before prayer for a double reason. The Giver will be more disposed to bestow new gifts when He sees that those already conferred are kept in grateful recollection. A spirit of thankfulness is one of the marks by which the family of God is distinguished from the world. He who cannot from the heart give thanks shall beg in vain. The receiver raises himself more easily to the hope of future kindnesses, when he recalls the remembrance of former benefits derived from the Giver. The foundation of despair is always ingratitude. The false supposition of De Wette is occasioned by another just as false, according to which the first part is made to express thanks (by anticipation) only for a single deliverance, notwithstanding the “all Thy wonders,” in Psalms 9:1, and the still more decidedly contradictory words in Psalms 9:5, “Thou rebukest the heathen.”

The relation which David had in view when he composed this Psalm for public use, was that of the Church of God to its external enemies. We must not take objection to their being simply designated the wicked, those who forget God, while the Israelites appear as the righteous, the meek. The same appearance constantly recurs again,—to wit, that a society which is animated by a truly Divine principle, and, consequently, has a kernel of members in whom this principle is embodied, regardless of the husk, which everywhere exists, is contrasted with another society which is animated by an ungodly principle, and in which, as a society, there can consequently be no kernel (the evil rather being the kernel), and is opposed thereto, as the kingdom of good, to the kingdom of evil. Let us just look at the songs of the age of the Reformation. They everywhere contrast the community of God and the community of Antichrist. Who would conclude from this, that the reformers reckoned every professing member of the Evangelic Church truly pious, and every member of the Romish Church utterly bad? Still, according to their view, it was accidental, because not involved in the idea and principle, if in the former any ungodly person was found; and in the latter any pious. Then, it is also to be taken into account, that, in relation to the heathen, the justice of the cause was always on the side of Israel, who, humanly considered, were unjustly oppressed. In this point of view Habakkuk justly asks of God, Habakkuk 1:13, “Wherefore lookest Thou upon theme, that deal treacherously, and holdest Thy tongue, when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” The two together, the internal righteousness of the kernel, and external righteousness of the cause, gave a solid ground of confidence to the prayer for deliverance out of the hand of the heathen. It may also be considered how entirely analogous the language was with ourselves during the war for freedom.

In opposing De Wette, who would put this into the large class of plaintive Psalms, Clauss has suffered himself to fall into an entirely false view of it. He maintains that the Psalm contains no element of prayer, but is wholly occupied with thanksgiving and praise. He is thus obliged to take up the unnatural position, in which he is certainly preceded by many of the older expositors, that Psalms 9:13 only adduces directly the cry of the miserable, which was already heard; which is contradicted, however, by the conclusion of the Psalm, where there is also a prayer, showing that the evil was still not altogether removed. The structure of our Psalm is quite analogous to that of Psalms 18, Psalms 40, Psalms 68, and to many others, in which the deliverance already obtained is first fully described, and then, upon the ground thereof, are expressed hope and prayer. It is certainly true that the feeling of gratitude for the aid already received here predominates, and on that account the prayer here is shorter, and is at once replaced by the confidence of being heard. Hence we are not to think of such times as the exile, when the pain was much more severely felt, and the conflict more violent.

That the Psalmist speaks not in his own person, and of what he himself had either obtained or wished to obtain, but in the name of the Church and of the deliverance granted to it, or wished for by it, is clear from the designation of, the object of the Divine care, as “the afflicted,” Psalms 9:12, “the meek,” in Psalms 9:18, “those who know the name of the Lord and seek Him,” in Psalms 9:10. Consequently, what Hitzig alleges in support of the Davidic authorship of the Psalm, that the author must, from Psalms 9:3-4, Psalms 9:13, have been a king, vanishes of itself. For this allegation rests upon a confusion of the author with the person speaking.

The position, that the Psalm does not refer to the personal relations of the Psalmist, but from the first was composed in the name of the whole body, and designed for its use, is supported, not only by the absence of all definite historical references, to which we have already adverted, but also by the whole tone of the Psalm, which evidently betrays the situation of the author to have been merely a supposititious one. We also discover here nothing of that inwardness and liveliness of feeling displayed in those Psalms which refer to personal relations, or even to the community at large, when particular circumstances were in question, or a special necessity oppressed it, or a special deliverance had been experienced.

In the LXX., which the Vulgate follows, this Psalm is united to the following one. Many expositors approve of this, appealing to the similarity of subject, and the want of a superscription to Psalms 10. We shall return more at length to the matter in our introduction to that Psalm.

The words על־מות לבן in the superscription are not easy. Winer, De Wette, and others, read the two first as one word, and point עֲ לָ מוֹ ת ; which is used at the beginning of Psalms 46 for marking the tune. לבן they render: for Ben, or the Benites. A Ben is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:18 as a master-singer. It is to be alleged against this, however, that the common reading and punctuation have on their side the preponderance of external authorities; and still more, that we are then driven to the unjustifiable necessity of supplying על before עלמות . Clauss gets rid of this difficulty only by introducing a greater one. He would read עַ לְ מוּ ת . But this word, which never actually occurs, could only signify virginity; and out of this to get a “virgin-song,” or “virgin-piece”—music-piece of the character על עלמות , is not very easy. Finally, the בן should then have been without the article,—an objection which is not of itself indeed quite conclusive, but which still gives important confirmation to the others, as the article is very rarely placed before proper nouns: see Ewald, p. 568. If, with others, we consider the words as taken from an old song, after the air of which our Psalm was to be sung, still they needed not have formed exactly the beginning of this song, but only to have occurred somewhere in it. Songs were not always named from their commencing words. Thus David’s song of lamentation upon the death of Saul and Jonathan, in 2 Samuel 1:18, is named the bow, קשת , because mention is made in it of the bow. It would then be very natural to suppose that this old song was a plaintive one on the death of a son, dying to the son, either with some such verb as has happened; or it might be taken as a mere circumlocution for the stat. constr., rendered necessary from the circumstance that the first noun was intended to be an indefinite one, the second a definite one, not “ the dying,” but “dying:” see Ewald, p. 583. מות is found as inf. nominasc. also in Psalms 14, comp. Genesis 25:32. But this whole view labours under the difficulty, that for such a pointed reference to a song, after the air of which a Psalm was to be sung, there is no analogy whatever in the superscriptions; in every other place, where this hypothesis has been advanced, it has turned out, on closer investigation, to be groundless. The true mode of explanation was hit upon by Grotius, who supposed that לבן was put by a transposition of letters for נבל , and that the superscription marks the subject of the Psalm. But he erred in taking נבל as a proper name, upon the dying of Nabal—a subject to which the Psalm could not possibly refer—instead of: upon the dying of the fool. This error being rectified, the superscription accords exactly with the contents: the destruction of the fool (comp. Psalms 14:1) is actually the subject of the Psalm. Precisely corresponding words are used in Psalms 9:5, “Thou hast destroyed the wicked:” comp. also in Psalms 9:3, “they shall perish at Thy presence;” in Psalms 9:6, “their memorial is, perished;” in Psalms 9:12, “when He maketh inquisition for blood, He remembereth them;” and in Psalms 9:17, “the wicked shall be turned into hell.” Analogous examples of an enigmatical designation by a change of letters, are Sesach for Babel, and the Leb Kamai for Kasdim in Jeremiah, both according to the Alphabet um Atbash.

See on this and similar enigmatical designations, Christology, Part ii. p. 92 ss. Such an enigmatical description of the subject is peculiarly appropriate in the superscriptions of the Psalms, and finds in them, as our exposition will show, a great number of analogies. This explanation derives special support from 2 Samuel 3:33, where David laments, “Died Abner as the fool dieth,” כמות נבל ; comp. also 1 Samuel 25:38, “And it came to pass about ten days after, that the Lord smote Nabal that he died.” Though the word is here to be taken as an adjective, yet it would seem that David had his eye upon that circumstance, which he viewed in the light of a prediction; comp. 1 Samuel 25:26, where Abigail said, “Let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.”

In the first half of the first strophe, Psalms 9:1-6, the Psalmist first declares his purpose of praising God, in Psalms 9:1-2; then in Psalms 9:3-4, he mentions the overthrow which God had inflicted on the enemies as the ground and occasion of this purpose; and in Psalms 9:5-6, he enlarges on the same subject.

Verse 1

Ver. 1. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, I will show forth all Thy marvellous works. The words, “with my whole heart,” serve at once to show the greatness of the deliverances wrought for the Psalmist, and to distinguish him from the hypocrites—the coarse ones, who praise the Lord for His goodness merely with the lips, and the more refined ones, who praise Him only with half their heart, while they secretly ascribe the deliverance more to themselves than to Him. All Thy wonders, the marvellous tokens of Thy grace. The Psalmist shows by this term, that he recognised them in all their greatness. Where this is done, there the Lord is also praised with the whole heart. Half-heartedness, and the depreciation of Divine grace, go hand in hand. The ב the ב instrum. The heart is the instrument of praise, the mouth only its organ.

Verse 2

Ver. 2. I will be glad and rejoice in Thee; I will adorn Thy name, 0 Thou Most High. Many expositors render בךְ? by, upon Thee, upon Thy wonderful doings. But the ב after a verb of joy always denotes the person or object wherein the affection reposes. It is not a mere joy before God, but a joy in God. To adorn the name of God is equivalent to singing of His glorious deeds (Venema: Deum factis illustrem), for the name is the product of the deeds. The Most High is used descriptively, because God had manifested Himself as uncontrolled ruler over all earthly things.

Verse 3

Ver. 3. When mine enemies are turned back—the ב points to the occasion of the praise, the circumstances which had called it forth, its cause— they stumble and perish at Thy presence: not human power and might have compassed their overthrow, but Thy indignation, which they could not withstand. This is poetically expressed, as if the enemies had been thrown to the ground by the glance of God’s fiery countenance. מן is the מן causae. פנים has the sense of angry face, only from the connection; it never signifies this, as many expositors maintain, by itself. The use of the Fut. is to be explained from the lively nature of the representation. The Psalmist sees the downfall of his enemies taking place before his eyes. With this De Wette could not sympathize; and so he thinks that in this verse he finds a support to his false view, that Psalms 9:1-6 express hope an regard to future deliverance. In the further enlargement that is given in Psalms 9:4-6, the Psalmist speaks in a calmer style, and there the Preterite is constantly used.

Verse 4

Ver. 4. For Thou hast Made my judgment and right. The for marks the relation of Psalms 9:4-6 to Psalms 9:3. What has been said in general, is confirmed by particulars. משפט and דין both denote, according to many expositors, causam forensem. Thou hast made, q. d. Thou dost undertake, or decide. The idea of a favourable decision is necessarily involved therein, since God, as the righteous one, if He undertakes a cause at all, cannot but do justice to the righteous. But this exposition is contradicted by the fact, that the expressions עשה משפט and עשה דין are never used, except of a decision in favour of a righteous cause; while, according to it, they might be used just as well of a decision against the ungodly. Comp. 1 Kings 8:45, 1 Kings 8:49; Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalms 140:12. These parallel passages show that the two words must be taken rather in the sense of judgment and right (דין in this sense, Proverbs 20:8, Isaiah 10:2), that which belongs to me, which is due to nay righteous cause. This exposition also fits better than the first into the parallelism. Thou satest on the throne as righteous judge. ישב should here, according to many, be taken in the sense of setting Himself, on account of the prep. ל following; for, that ל is not put for ב , is to be taken for granted. But there is nothing to prevent us from abiding by the common and only certain meaning of the verb. For there is as little to warrant us in taking ל in the sense of אל , as these interpreters presuppose, as in that of ב . Therefore ישב לכסא , “to sit as one belonging to the throne,” is equivalent to “sitting upon the throne.”

Verse 5

Ver. 5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, Thou hast destroyed the wicked. גער , to rebuke, denotes, when used of God, the infliction of the punishment, without receiving another sense than the word usually has. The punishment is considered as a sermo realis. The גוים shows that the thanksgivings do not refer to victory over a single heathenish nation. Thou hast put out their name for ever and ever: Thou hast so completely extirpated them, that their memory has perished with them.

Verse 6

Ver. 6. The enemy, finished are the destructions for ever; and Thou hast destroyed cities, their memorial is perished, even they. The pron. sep. המה is used with emphasis, after the suff. had already been employed. Their memorial perished, even theirs; or more exactly: “their memory perished, even they (have perished).” Attention is called to the great contrast between the proud expectations of the enemies, their apparently invincible strength, and their now entire annihilation: their memory is gone,—the memory of those who, in their supercilious pride, and in their actual possession of all human means of help, fancied themselves lords of the whole earth. Thus emphatically also at the beginning stands the nom. absol. the enemy—he who thought himself so secure, so invincible, who appeared destined to lasting prosperity. תמם in the sense of being completed, finished, is found also in Joshua 5:8; 1 Kings 6:22, 1 Kings 7:22; Psalms 64:6. While תמו marks the entireness of the desolation which reigns in the land of the enemies, לנוח expresses the perpetuity of it. By the ruins we are to understand, as is evident from the parallel, cities, and even from the word itself, destroyed fortresses and dwellings. In the verb, “Thou hast destroyed,” the address is directed to God, as in Psalms 9:5, throughout. As in the first and last clause the desolation is merely described by itself, it is necessary that attention be called to the author of it in the middle, the desolation being here viewed only so far as it is one wrought by God. The second clause stands in the same relation here to the first and third, as in Psalms 9:3 the third does to the first and second. Another exposition renders: “ the enemies, their devastations have an end.”

But it is to be objected, that חרבה never signifies devastation in an active sense, but only “ruins.” Apart from usage, which furnishes no instance of the word being employed in the former signification, either in the masculine or feminine gender, the inadmissibility of that signification is evident also from the form. The Segol-forms with מ serve only to express intransitive or passive ideas: see Ewald, p. 228. As the verb signifies only to be desolated, never to desolate, so also the noun must mean desolation in the passive sense. The parallelism too: “Thou hast destroyed cities,” tends to show that the subject of discourse here is the ruin of hostile habitations; as also the assertion, that “their memory is perished,” indicates a total destruction of them. The three verbs, תמונתשתאבד , stand in exact parallelism. Now, if the affairs of the enemies are described by the two last as going to ruin, the same explanation must be held also to be the only correct one in regard to the first. Ewald, following Venema, would take האויב as the subject the enemies are completed as desolations for ever, i.e. the enemies became altogether perpetual desolations. But desolations do not suit persons; and how little the parallelism favours this exposition may be gathered from this alone, that Ewald sees himself under the necessity of taking ערים in the sense of צרים , adversaries. Quite arbitrary, also, is the exposition of Maurer: O enemy, there is an end to the ruins and the cities which thou hast destroyed. For the address in the first part is throughout directed to the Lord; and it could not be said that the cities destroyed by the enemies have an end. Finally, the exposition of De Wette: The enemies are gone, desolations (are) for ever, does violence to the accents, which separate תמו from האויב , and connect it with חרבות : the verb in the plural, standing in the middle between a noun in the singular and a noun in the plural, is more naturally joined with the latter than the former; according to the analogy of נתשת and אבד , the תמו also is to be referred, not to the enemies themselves, but to that which belongs to them; lastly, that the words, חרבות לנצח , form a period by themselves, with the omission of the verb, is against the analogy of the other members of the verse, and of Psalms 9:4 and Psalms 9:5, where verbs are constantly placed in the Preterite. The contents of Psalms 9:5 and Psalms 9:6 suit most exactly to the Amalekites (without being confined to them), who, after the victories gained over them by Saul and David, altogether disappear from the theatre of history. That the Psalmist had them chiefly in view, and derived from their fate the strong colours in which he depicts the overthrow of the enemies of God’s people, is probable from the reference which the expressions, “Thou hast put out their name for ever,” and “their memorial is perished,” seem to bear to Exodus 17:14, “I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek,” and Deuteronomy 25:19, “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek.” Comp. also Numbers 24:20, “Amalek is the first of the heathen, but his end is destruction,” עדי אבד . The representation, however, was also verified in the overthrow of the Canaanites, and in the victories of David over the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and other nations.

Verse 7

Ver. 7. And the Lord is enthroned for ever; He has prepared His throne for judgment, or for holding judgment. The Psalmist strengthens his faith through the conviction, confirmed by those deliverances, that God is the eternal ruler and judge of the world; that, however the rage of the ungodly may swell, they can never prevail to push God from His exalted throne, from which, with almighty power and perfect righteousness, He governs the world, and vindicates the cause of the oppressed. He thus derives the general from the particular, from individual realizations he forms the idea, from history he deduces the doctrine, and praises God because His very nature is a pledge of the salvation of His people in all their needs. The way is. thus prepared for the prayer he has to present. The Futures are to be translated in the Present, and mark the continuous, action.

Verse 8

Ver. 8. And He judges the world in righteousness; He ministers judgment to the people in uprightness.

Verse 9

Ver. 9. And the Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed. ויהי might be taken as an Optative. The Psalmist would then express a wish that God would be to him what He had been described in the preceding context. Through this wish he would make known his pleasure in what is divine. However, as in poetry the abbreviated form stands in place of the common one, we may also translate in accordance with the preceding and following context: “And there is.” משגב is a high place, where one is secure from the attacks of one’s enemies. The remark of Venema is not to be overlooked: “Utique David, quod observo, primes est qui Daum locum editum, hac voce, appellavit.” The ground of David’s predilection for this designation of God, he finds in the circumstance of David’s having often experienced safety in such places, when fleeing from Saul. דךְ? from דכךְ? , “to crush,” signifies, “one who is oppressed.” A refuge for times in trouble. Times in trouble are times when one is in trouble; comp. Psalms 10:1. In this verse, also, faith judges from that which God has done, what He is, and will do. How He had shown Himself during the past, in a series of actions, as a refuge for the oppressed, was declared in Psalms 9:3-6; therefore such is His character generally, and such also must He prove Himself in regard to the present oppression.

Verse 10

Ver. 10. And they that know Thy name do put their trust in Thee. To know the name of God, is to know Him according to His historical manifestation, as described in vers. 3-6.

For the name of God is the product of this manifestation. When one hears Him named, then one calls to remembrance all that He has done. The name is the focus in which all the rays of His actions meet. For—this is shown by Thy name, this is pledged by Thine historical character, which can only result from Thy nature

Thou hast not forsaken them that seek Thee, O Lord.

Verse 11

Ver. 11. This and the following verse form the conclusion, the epiphony and resume of the whole first part, or of the two first strophes, in which it has been described how the Lord has acted, then how He is: therefore sing. Sing praises to the Lord, who is throned upon Zion—prop. the enthrones of Zion, to whom Zion belongs. This designation is here chosen because God had acted as King of Israel, as guardian of the nation, and in that capacity had been described. Declare among the people His doings: tell among the heathen how gloriously He has helped, and still helps, His people. Rightly Calvin: “Although this were substantially to preach to deaf ears, yet David would show by this form of expression, that the limits of Judea were too narrow to comprise within themselves the everlasting riches of the praise of God.”

Verse 12

Ver. 12. For the avenger of blood remembereth him, He forgetteth not the cry of time afflicted. For—this is the deduction from the deeds with which the Psalmist had just been occupying himself—the Lord, who leaves not innocent blood to be shed with impunity upon the earth, punishes the enemies for the cruelty which they practised upon His people. In regard to the Preterites of the verb, which are to be rendered by the Present, the remark of Ewald, Small Gr. § 263, specially applies: “General truths which are clear from experience, and have already shown and proved themselves to be such, are described in the Perfect.” The suffix in אתם refers to the plural דמים . God appears to have forgotten the blood of the slain so long as He leaves the murderer unpunished; He calls him to remembrance when He punishes him. The sense is weakened if we refer it to the following עניים , and it is also opposed to the parallelism. God remembers blood: He forgets not the cry of the afflicted. In both members mention is made of that which calls forth the vengeance of God against the evil-doers. Blood is not here to be taken, with the generality of expositors, as synecdochically comprehending all sorts of misdeeds; but the Psalmist naturally mentions the highest pitch of hostile malice, as peculiarly fitted to draw forth the Divine vengeance. A special reason for this manner of expression is to be found in the unquestionable reference to Genesis 9:5, where God designates Himself the avenger of blood, “I will require your blood:” “He, who in His word announces Himself to be the avenger of blood, does, as experience testifies, remember him.” (Venema: “Quam personam Deus sibi jam aptavit tempore Abelis, cujus sanguis vindictam clamavit et se constanter in orbis gubernatione esse gesturum declaravit. Genesis 9”) For עניים the Masoretic marginal reading is ענוים whose vowels, as usual, stand in the text. The marginal reading is here also to be rejected. It has only arisen from the feeling that a moral quality, humility, is necessary to the hearing of prayer. But it is overlooked, that although עני constantly retains its proper signification (see upon the never-failing distinction between עני , afflicted, miserable, and ענו humble, Christo P. ii. p. 126 ss.), it is clear enough from the connection that only persons who innocently suffer are meant. The mention of a cry and of blood also points to the idea of suffering, and not of humility. The reading in the text is further confirmed by the followingעניי , in Psalms 9:13, which is most closely related to עניים : “God forgets not the cry of the afflicted,

Be merciful to me, O Lord, behold my affliction.”

Verse 13

Ver. 13. The prayer now rises on the foundation laid in the preceding context. Luther remarks: “in the same way do all feel and speak who have already overcome some tribulation misfortune, and are once more oppressed, tormented, and plagued. They cry and beg that they may be delivered.” This is unquestionably the right view of this and the next verse. Be gracious to me, O Lord, behold my affliction of my haters, Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death. חָ נְ נֵ נִ י is formed as if the verb were a regular one. According to the analogy of the verbs עע , it ought to have been חָ נּ ֵ נִ י . Such forms are merely poetical; Ewald, p. 476. Poetry ever strives to give outward expression to its internal separation from common life. Of my haters, i.e. proceeding from them, done to me. מן designates the originator. Not so good is the exposition of those who suppose here a constr. praegnans: Behold my affliction and free me from my haters. There are certainly to be found similar constructions. So, for example, is it said in 2 Samuel 18:19, “The Lord hath judged him out of the hand of his enemies.” But still the passage here is note perfectly analogous. The seeing is less practical than the judging, and even than the hearing in Psalms 22:21; the helping ‘is not involved here, as it is there, in the expression itself (it is to be observed that in Psalms 22 not שמע , but ענח is used), but is only a consequence of the seeing. Thou, my lifter up, Thou, whose constant part it is to lift me up. Death, or the realm of death, sheol, is represented under the image of a deep, firmly barred prison-house, from which no one can deliver himself. The greatest distress and misery are here, therefore, denoted by the sinking down into sheol. That God is a helper in distress, begets confidence towards Him in particular seasons of distress. The words comprehend in brief, what in the first part had been exhibited in detail, and, consequently, direct attention to the relation subsisting between this strophe and the two preceding ones—the connection between the prayer and the thanksgiving and praise.

Verse 14

Ver. 14. As a reason for the granting of his prayer for further deliverance, the Psalmist declares that he should thereby have occasion for still more praising God. In this verse we discover one of the two ends intended to be answered by a previous offering of thanks and praise. It is substantially based on the supposition that the thanks and praise of His people are acceptable to God. That I may show forth all Thy praise, all Thy wonderful doings, in the gates of the daughter of Zion. That we must not, with many expositors, the last of whom was Clauss, render למען by on this account, we have seen on a former occasion. In the gates—expositors commonly remark—were the assemblies and judgments held; hence, “in the gates” is equivalent to “in the public assembly.” But this view is untenable. God’s praise is not to be celebrated in the gates, amid the noise of worldly business, but in the temple. The expression is to be regarded as simply meaning within. It is confessedly often used in that sense in the Pentateuch; see the Lexicons. The former interpretation is opposed also by “the gates of death,” in the preceding verse, which also signify the whole region of the dead. The daughter of Zion is Jerusalem. The Gen. is to be understood precisely as in the words, נהר פרת , “the river of the Euphrates,” for, Euphrates. So &#בת ירושלם בת בבל , is not “daughter of Jerusalem,” “daughter of Babylon,” but rather, “daughter Jerusalem,” “daughter Babylon,” etc. Words which are very frequently coupled together, take gradually the form of the stat. constr., although, according to their meaning, they merely stand in apposition; Ewald, p. 579. Cities were poetically personified as maidens or daughters, and that so frequently that the designation sometimes found its way also into prose. The form תּ ְ הִ לּ ָ תֶ יךָ? ; cannot be plural; the plural must have been תּ ְ הִ לּ ֹ תֶ יךָ? ; neither can it be singular, for then the Jod must have been awanting. It appears that the vowels have originally belonged to a Kri, which had afterwards been dropt from the margin, The Masorites wished to read the singular instead of the rarer plural, which they considered to be recommended by Psalms 71:4, Psalms 106:2.

Verse 15

Ver. 15. The fourth strophe contains the internal assurance of being heard.

T he heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made; in the net which they hid, was their own foot taken. That the Praeterites refer to an ideal past; denote that which, not the corporeal eye, but faith, saw as present; and that we must hence not suppose, with most expositors, that the Psalmist returns to celebrate a deliverance actually past,—appears from Psalms 9:17 ss., where he continues to express his hope of that in the future, which is here represented as already afforded.

Verse 16

Ver. 16. “The Lord made Himself known, He held judgment.” The latter words describe the manner of making known, that through which He was recognised, wherein He manifested Himself. It is quite unnecessary to bring the two members into a closer relation to each other, to make the second grammatically dependent on the first. The abrupt mode of expression is in perfect accordance with the joyful emotions of the Psalmist. In the work of his own hands,—in the snares prepared by himself, and laid for others,— the wicked is snared; comp. Psalms 7:15-16. נוקש is the participle in Kal of the verb נקש ; in Piel, “ to ensnare,” in Kal, “ to be ensnared.” As this verb is also found elsewhere, there is no reason for taking the word here as an irregular form of the Praet. in Niph. from יקש ; in which case, instead of the Zere, Patach should have been used.—הגיון is found in three other places besides this. In two of them, Psalms 19:14, Lamentations 3:61, the sense, musing, reflection, is certain, and generally recognised. This established meaning is also quite suitable in the third passage, Psalms 92:3 to muse upon the harp, is “to play meditatively, feelingly thereupon,” corresponding to the silent praise in Psalms 65:1,—and to substitute, with Gesenius, De Wette, and others, the unfounded sense of loud playing, or music, is quite arbitrary. Applying this signification also here, הגיון contains a call to reflection, most appropriate to the elevation of the moment at which he renewed the assurance of being heard. The Selah, pause, is very suitably added here. The music must cease, to afford space for calm meditation.

Verse 17

Ver. 17. The fifth strophe. The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations forgetting God. The transition from the Pret. to the Fut., which is the rather to be noticed, as Higgaion and Selah intervene between the two, may be explained in this way, that the lively emotions which took possession of the Psalmist, when he became assured of acceptance, have now subsided, so that he continues his discourse in a more calm and ordinary manner; or, perhaps, in Psalms 9:15 and Psalms 9:16 the Psalmist, as out of himself, sees things with God’s eye as present, while here he falls back to the common point of view, and hope consequently takes the place of sight.—שוב never signifies to turn one’s self any whither, but always to turn away, to turn back; and this signification is quite suitable here also: “They turn away from the Psalmist, and towards sheol.” Already was it remarked by J. D Michaelis: Ceterum reditur quidem interdum a termino, ad quem ventum erat, set ad alium, quam in quo quis antea fuerat, e. c. 2 Par. 18:25, Job 1:21. The ה in לשאולה , can only be held to be superfluous by those who fail to see the distinction between ל and אל . There is a reference to Psalms 9:13. The same God who raises the righteous from the gates of sheol, drives the wicked down thither, as into “their own place.” In reference to “the forgetting of God,” Venema remarks excellently: “Not in that sense in which the Gentiles are said to be without God and His worship, which is common to them all, but rather in an emphatical one, as treading all law and righteousness beneath their feet, and manifesting that they have thrown off all regard to God, the judge of the world, and the avenger of crime—that they have obliterated and erased all those thoughts and apprehensions of God, which are inscribed upon the consciences of men.”

Verse 18

Ver. 18. For the poor shall not always be forgotten, the hope of the meek doth not perish for ever. In the second hemistich, the אל is to be supplied from the first. The Kri עניים for ענוים arose simply from the false notion of the Masorites, that the parallel אביון requires a word which does not denote a moral quality, but has respect to the outward condition. According to the connection, the needy is the poor and neglected righteous man, and the ענוים are the suffering meek ones.

Verse 19

Ver. 19. The last strophe. There is a renewal of the prayer, with the difference, however, from the former, that it now Springs from the assurance of being heard (the Psalmist takes God at His word); whereas, in the former case, it rested only on the ground of a general confidence in God’s grace.

Arise, O Lord, let not, man prevail; let the heathen be judged in Thy sight. The words, “Let not man prevail” (be strong), call attention to the internal contradiction which exists in the present state of things, to the contrast between the reality and the idea, which imperiously demands reconciling. That man, whose very name is weakness (comp. the vindication of the derivation of אנוש from אנש , to be weak, by Tholuck, Beitr. z. Spracherkl. S. 61), makes his power prevail, is so intolerable a quid pro quo, that God must necessarily lift Himself up, in order to put it down. The use of the על is to be explained thus: The parties stand before the sitting judge, and so are raised above Him.

Verse 20

Ver. 20. Put fear into them, O Lord; i.e. associate it with them as a companion, place it beside them, or appoint it for them. שות with ל exactly as in Psalms 141:3:“Set a watch to my mouth.” To drive into, or lay on, cannot be the meaning of the verb with ל . Some take מורה in the sense of razor, in which sense it occurs Judges 13:5, and elsewhere, and translate: “Lay on them the razor.” By this would then be denoted the greatest dishonour, for it is customary in the East to let the beard grow, and to have no beard is counted a reproach. But this cannot, as we have said, be the meaning of the verb; and the expression has here, where all else is so simple, a forced and unnatural appearance. It is, therefore, better to take מורה as only a different manner of writing the word on the margin, מורא , fear, from &#ירא ה often usurps the place of א , because the sound at the end is the same, and the number of words which end in ה , is much greater than those which have א . The Masorites, then, have only, as they have often done, placed the current for the rarer form.

Let the heathen know that they are men, weak, impotent creatures. The singular אנוש carries more emphasis than the plural—dying, feeble man, not God. The use of the singular shows, that in all numerical and other differences, the nature still remains the same.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 9". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.