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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 9

Verses 1-6


We have in Psalm 9, which together with Psalm 10 forms a unit, a special stylistic form in the poetry of the Hebrew Psalms, called acrostic. In this, the first word of each verse, or group of verses, begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, called alephbeet in Hebrew. The Psalms written in the form of an acrostic are: Psalms 9-10; 25; 34; 37; 111; 112; 119; 145.

The first psalm is Psalm 9 to which Psalm 10 belongs directly because Psalm 10 continues the alphabetical sequence of Psalm 9. Also, Psalm 10 lacks a heading, which is unusual for Book 1 of Psalms (Psalms 1-41). This means that the heading of Psalm 9 applies to Psalms 9-10 together.

However, the alphabetical sequence of these two psalms is not compelling, for some letters are missing, being one letter in Psalm 9 and six letters in Psalm 10. Further consideration of this shows that the letters are missing where the antichrist, the man of sin, becomes manifest. Six in the Bible is the number of man.

The psalm shows us the governmental ways of God in the life of the oppressed faithful remnant (Psalms 10:18) in times of trouble (Psalms 9:9; Psalms 10:1). This involves primarily enemies from without in Psalm 9, and enemies from within in Psalm 10. The way of God when there are enemies is to first bring praise to Him (Psalms 9:1-Exodus :; cf. 2 Chronicles 20:21). After all, the battle is the LORD’s; it is His battle.

Praise to God, the Righteous Judge

For “for the choir director” (Psalms 9:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

The addition “on Muth-labben” which means ‘Death to the son’ is found only in the heading of this psalm. Several explanations of this expression have been given, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to give the correct explanation.

There is, however, one explanation that appeals to us. That is that by ‘Death to the son’ is meant the death of “the man of lawlessness … the son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) or the antichrist. This person plays the leading role in evil in this psalm and the next – and in many other psalms. He is the embodiment of lawlessness, which is expressed in the name ‘the man of lawlessness’.

The thought of his death also connects well with the previous psalm, Psalm 8, where the realm of peace is described. The establishment of the realm of peace means the death of the antichrist, ‘the son of destruction’. God proves that He is the righteous Judge by killing this person. This gives the God-fearing, who have suffered greatly from him, the occasion for a song of praise, which is heard through David in this psalm. The ‘Death to the son’ is the melody of this psalm by which the words which are sung are carried.

For “a Psalm of David”, see Psalm 3:1.

After a climax in Psalm 8, the thread with Psalm 7 is picked up. Psalm 7 ends with a song of praise about and to the LORD Most High. That is repeated here in Psalms 9:1-Exodus :. David begins the psalm by praising the LORD (Psalms 9:1). He does this with all his heart. There is nothing else in his heart but praise to God.

Next, he tells God that he will tell all His wonders. Wonders are literally “extraordinary things”, all acts of God that produce astonishment and awe. It is a term more often used in Psalms to describe God’s works, which are numerous. These are primarily wonders of deliverance through judgment on enemies. He testifies to others of what God has done for him. Thus he first gives to God what is due to Him. Then follows the testimony to the outside world, so that they too will begin to ask for Him.

Even more than the wonders of deliverance, about which he tells, David is glad and exults in the Deliverer (Psalms 9:2). He jumps up with joy because of Him. To His Name he sings praise. The LORD is the “Most High”. He is exalted above everything and everyone. One who realizes this in faith can sing in spite of enemies who surround him. As noted earlier, the name “Most High” is God’s name in the realm of peace. David sees here, as it were, the full result of deliverance.`

In Psalms 9:3-Numbers :, David speaks of the reason for his joy. Both verses begin with a reasoning word. The first is “when” and then the description follows what happened to the enemies (Psalms 9:3). David is mindful of God’s successive dealings with his enemies. There is a climax – for the enemies an anticlimax – in it. It all happens “before You”, that is, it is His work.

In a vivid description, the defeat of the enemies is depicted; we see it happen:
1. God has caused His enemies to “turn back”.
2. Then they do not flee and escape, but “stumble”.
3. Finally, we see their end: they “perish” before God.

The word “for” makes it clear that the enemies perished because God has maintained David’s just cause (Psalms 9:4). God, by killing the enemies, justifies David. David has defeated his enemies, but he knows that it is not he, but God who has dealt with his enemies. God has enabled him to do that. Therefore, for that, all credit is due to Him.

David served God faithfully. Because He is the righteous Judge, Who is “judging righteously”, He stood up for David. He always stands up for those who suffer because of their faithfulness to Him. This is not always immediately apparent. Sometimes it even seems like the opposite, but it will become visible when He takes His seat on His throne.

Because God is the righteous Judge, who cannot do other than judge righteously, He rebukes “the nations” (cf. Matthew 25:31-Micah :) and destroys “the wicked” – singular, the antichrist (Psalms 9:5). The nations share in the fate of the antichrist because they have followed him and helped in carrying out his evil plans. Nothing remains of them; the eradication is radical.

Even their names – those of the nations and that of the antichrist – are blotted out, not for a shorter or longer period, but “forever and ever”. As in Psalms 9:3, here we have a climax for faith that is an anticlimax for unbelief: rebuked, destroyed and blotted out.

Psalms 9:5 begins with the letter gimel and Psalms 9:6 begins with the letter he. The letter daleth is skipped. This has to do here with the mention of “the wicked” in Psalms 9:5 and the “enemy” in Psalms 9:6. By both is meant the antichrist who is out to disrupt God’s governmental ways.

In Psalms 9:6 David says defiantly to the enemy, the antichrist, where does he now stand with all his exploits of which he has always boasted? He has done nothing but cause ruin, uproot cities and making life impossible for countless people. The testimony “destruction and misery are in their paths” (Romans 3:16) applies to him in particular. When he is put to death, there is an end forever to his destruction as well as to the uprooting the cities. The memory of his devastation has perished along with his destruction.

We can apply this to everything modern man boasts of. He strains to make the world more livable, that is, to bend it to his will, just for his own pleasure. The effect of his efforts is to make the world more and more uninhabitable. The trail of destruction that is in his paths becomes deeper and deeper. Not even a memory of him remains, no matter how much people may praise him and “immortalize” his name.

One of the greatest symbols of glorification of man is the Hollywood Walk of Fame with names of entertainment industry celebrities admired by countless people. When God takes His seat on the throne, He wipes out all those names and their memory of them. They disappear forever and ever. They are never thought of again, let alone longed for again.

Verses 7-12

The LORD Is a Stronghold

Opposite to the temporary and destructive nature of the work of the antichrist described in the previous verses is the eternal throne of the LORD (Psalms 9:7). On that throne He sits “forever”. There will never be a time when another will sit on that throne, as is always the case with thrones on earth. Sitting on His throne, He will “judge the world in righteousness” and “execute judgment for the peoples with equity” (Psalms 9:8).

David applies the truth of Psalms 9:7-Ruth : to the needy of God’s people. While God’s throne is a judgment throne for the nations, God Himself is “a stronghold for the oppressed … in times of trouble” (Psalms 9:9). In “the oppressed” we see the faithful remnant, while with the “times of trouble” the great tribulation is meant.

God stands up for the oppressed, for those who are deprived of all rights and who are unjustly treated. He takes their trial upon Himself. He is their safety and protection. They know His Name and know that He is completely trustworthy (Psalms 9:10). They experienced this when they sought Him in times of trouble. Then He did not forsake them.

It is therefore understandable that David calls them to “sing praises to the LORD who dwells in Zion” and to “declare among the peoples His deeds” (Psalms 9:11). The word “for” with which Psalms 9:12 begins indicates the reason that follows for the call of Psalms 9:11. God is the righteous Judge. They may know, and be encouraged by this, that He “requires blood” and “remembers them”.

That “He … remembers them” does not mean that He suddenly remembers that there is yet a retribution to be made. He has not forgotten “the cry of the afflicted”. He has never forgotten what His own have suffered and by whom suffering has been brought upon them. Their cry for help has never died away for Him even though enemies have silenced the voice. The fact that He remembers them means that He judges the time has come to act and to retaliate.

Verses 13-14

Prayer and Promise

David has sung in faith in the previous verses of the result of God’s exercise of justice in his favor. In Psalms 9:13 he speaks of the actual circumstances. The enemies have not yet been eradicated. They are making his life difficult. He supplicates for God’s grace, because he is miserable. This misery is caused by those who hate him and who continue to persecute him. He feels that he is before “the gates of death”, that is, in the power of death. In faith he expresses that God will “lift him up” from it, deliver him from it.

The Lord Jesus speaks of the “gates of Hades” as an expression of the power of death (Matthew 16:18). He does so in the context of the first communication to people ever about the church, which He calls “My church”, which He says He “will build”. That building began on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-Numbers :) and continues until the church raptured.

The church includes all those who, because of their faith in the Lord Jesus, are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). Those who are members of the church of God remain so, even though they have died. The power of death, or the gates of hades, cannot change that.

For David, his deliverance from the power of death is one of all God’s praises, which are all His praiseworthy deeds, deeds worthy of praise (Psalms 9:14). In faith in God’s deliverance “from the gates of death”, he speaks of being “in the gates of the daughter of Zion”, that is Jerusalem as the city will be in the realm of peace.

God has then fulfilled His purpose with that city. The gates of the city symbolize the power of God. The city is a monument of God’s power. God by His power has delivered the city from all its enemies, giving it His salvation. All who live in the city will rejoice in what God has done to the city. He acted in favor of her.

Verses 15-18

Judgment on the Nations

These verses give a prophetic description of the judgment on the nations. They describe events that still have to take place as if they have already taken place. The nations have wanted to raze the city to the ground, they have wanted to make the city a pit, filled with corpses of the inhabitants (Psalms 9:15). Through the judgments of the righteous Judge, the roles have been reversed. The nations have perished and have sunk down in the pit they have made for Jerusalem. In their march toward Jerusalem, their feet became caught in the net which they had hid for Jerusalem.

This happened because the LORD stood up for His people and turned against their enemies. He intervened in judgment and made Himself known in that way (Psalms 9:16). He becomes known by executing judgment. When “the wicked” – singular, we can think of the antichrist – becomes snared in the work of his own hands, it shows that God executes judgment. The words “higgaion, selah” indicate that while the music is playing softly (higgaion), a moment of quiet reflection (selah) on God’s justice is required.

After reflecting on God’s justice, David resumes speaking about the fate of the wicked (Psalms 9:17). He adds some serious words as a warning to the wicked. All the nations are returning to their place of origin. They come out of the realm of the dead, Sheol, and return there. Sheol – called Hades in the New Testament – is the place where the spirits of deceased unbelievers are.

That they return to the realm of the dead does not mean that the realm of the dead is their place of origin in a literal sense, but that the content of their lives has its origin there. They have manifested nothing but hatred toward God and His people. This is what characterizes the realm of the dead, where the unbelievers are. In their lives they have never been in touch with God. They have deliberately forgotten Him, eliminated Him in their thinking, not allowed Him any interference in their lives. They will always be forgotten by God.

In contrast, the needy will not always be forgotten (Psalms 9:18). God is thinking of him (cf. Psalms 9:12). Therefore, the hope of the afflicted does not perish forever. No needy and afflicted who places his hope in God does so in vain. God hears and will answer and deliver.

Verses 19-20

Call to God to Arise

In Psalms 9:19, David, and in him the faithful remnant, appeals to God to prevent man – Hebrew enosh, which is weak, mortal man – from making himself strong against the God-fearing. The so powerful antichrist, the beast from the earth (Revelation 13:11-Job :), who is supported by the beast from the sea (Revelation 13:1-2 Samuel :), is here referred to as enosh, weak and mortal. Therefore, let the LORD arise. Even the nations are made up of nothing but weak, mortal people.

When the LORD exalts Himself in His majesty, His impressive stature will put fear into their hearts (Psalms 9:20). Then they will shrivel up and know that God is the strong God and that they themselves are nothing but “men”, weak, mortal men who are powerless against Him.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.