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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 9

Muth-labben also seems to be another title of some song, or tune, or instrument; of which we must and may be content to be ignorant, as the Jewish doctors also are. Some render it, upon the death of his son, to wit, Absalom, or of one called Labben; or, of the middle man, or the man that stood between the two armies, to wit, Goliath, who is so called in the Hebrew text, 1 Samuel 17:4. But none of these suit with the design and matter of the Psalm, which is more general, and relates to his former manifold dangers, and the deliverance which God had graciously given him out of them. And that of Goliath agrees not with Psalms 9:14, where there is mention of praising God in Zion, which then and long after was in the hands of the Jebusites.

David resolveth to praise God, Psalms 9:1,Psalms 9:2, for executing judgment upon his enemies, Psalms 9:3-8. God is a refuge to the oppressed, Psalms 9:9,Psalms 9:10. David calls the people of Israel to praise the Lord, Psalms 9:11,Psalms 9:12. He prayeth him to consider his trouble, Psalms 9:13, that he might have cause to praise him, Psalms 9:14. The heathen, by God’s judgment, fall into the snare they made for others, Psalms 9:15,Psalms 9:16. The portion of the wicked that forget God, Psalms 9:17. A promise of mercy to the needy and poor, Psalms 9:18; and a prayer for judgment on the ungodly, Psalms 9:19,Psalms 9:20.

Verse 1

With my whole heart, i.e. with a sincere, and affectionate, and united heart. I will discourse in the general of thy manifold wonders wrought for me, and for thy church and people formerly. The particle

all is here, as it is oft elsewhere, taken in a restrained sense.

Verse 2

In thee, i.e. in thy favour and help vouschafed to me.

Verse 3

When they are discomfited and put to flight, they shall not save themselves by flight, and reserve themselves to do further mischief, but shall stumble as it were at gall-traps by thee laid in their way, and shall be pursued, and overtaken, and cut off, upon thy appearance against them. One angry look of thine is able to confound and destroy them. Heb. from thy face, because thou didst march in the head of our armies, and against them. They could not stand before thee. So he ascribes the honour of his victories to God only, and to his presence and assistance.

Verse 4

My right and my cause, i.e. my righteous cause against thine and mine enemies.

Thou satest in the throne; thou didst judge and give sentence for me.

Judging right, or, O righteous Judge, or, as a just judge.

Verse 5

Rebuked, i.e. punished, as Psalms 6:1; or destroyed, as it is explained in the next clause.

The heathen, to wit, the Philistines and other heathen nations, who did from time to time molest David, or the people of Israel.

Their name; either that fame and honour which they had gained by their former exploits, but now utterly lost by their shameful defeats; or their very memorial, as it fared with Analek.

Verse 6

This is a sudden apostrophe to the enemies of God’s people, Philistines, Amorites, or other nations, who had formerly made great havoc and waste among them.

Destructions are come to a perpetual end; thou hast destroyed the Israelitish nation utterly and irrecoverably, and, as it follows, their defenced cities, and their very name and memory, according to thy own desire. So it is a sarcasm or irony, a usual figure in Scripture and all authors, whereby the quite contrary is signified, to wit, that they were not only frustrated of their desires and hopes of destroying the Israelites, but were also subdued, and in a great part destroyed by them. Or this verse may be understood of the great waste and ruin which God’s enemies had brought upon Israel before this time; which is here remembered, to make the Israelites more thankful for their later or present deliverances. Or it may be taken as a prophecy of the future calamities which the enemies should by God’s permission bring upon Israel, of which he speaks as of a thing past and done, after the manner of the prophets. But this place is otherwise rendered in the margin of our Bibles, and by divers others, the destructions of the enemy which may be understood either,

1. Actively, which they caused; or,

2. Passively, which they felt

are come to a perpetual end, or, are fully and finally completed. Thou hast destroyed cities; either,

1. Thou, O God, who is oft understood and couched in a pronoun in this manner, thou hast destroyed their cities. Or rather,

2. Thou, O enemy; as may be gathered both from the foregoing clause, where it is so expressed; and from the next verse, where it follows by way of opposition to this, But the Lord, &c. Their memorial is perished with them; the places and people are utterly extinct.

Verse 7

Though cities and people may perish for ever, yet the Lord abides for ever; which is sufficient for the enemies’ terror, and for the comfort of his church.

He hath prepared, or established, by his immutable purpose, and his irrevocable promise.

Verse 8

The world; not you only, but all the enemies of his people, and all the men of the world.

Verse 9

God will not only judge the world at the last day, and then give sentence for his people against their enemies, but even at present he will give them his protection.

Verse 10

They that know, i.e. that thoroughly understand and duly consider. Thy name, i.e. thy nature and perfections, thy infinite power, and wisdom, and faithfulness, and goodness; which make a person a most fit and proper object for trust. The name of God is most frequently put for God, as he hath manifested himself in his word and works, as Deuteronomy 28:58; Psalms 7:17; Psalms 20:1; Proverbs 18:10, &c.

Thou hast not forsaken; the experience of thy faithfulness to thy people in all ages is a just ground for their confidence.

Them that seek thee, i.e. that seek help and relief from thee by fervent prayer, mixed with faith, or trust in God, as is expressed in the former clause.

Verse 11

Which dwelleth in Zion; whose special and gracious presence is there; for there was the ark at this time.

Among the people, i.e. to the heathen nations, that they also may be brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God.

Verse 12

For blood, Heb. bloods; the bloodshed or murder of his innocent and holy ones; which though he may connive at for a season, yet he will certainly call the authors of it to a very severe account, and avenge it upon them.

He remembereth them; either,

1. The humble, as it follows, or the oppressed, Psalms 9:9, that trust in him, and seek to him, Psalms 9:10, whom he seemed to have forgotten. Or,

2. The bloods last mentioned, for that noun and this pronoun are both of the masculine gender; and then remembering is put for revenging or punishing, as it is Deuteronomy 25:17,Deuteronomy 25:19; Nehemiah 6:14; Jeremiah 14:10; Jeremiah 44:21, and oft elsewhere.

The humble, or meek, as this word, which is used also Zechariah 9:9, is translated Matthew 21:5, who do not, and cannot, and will not avenge themselves, but commit their cause to me, as the God to whom vengeance belongeth. Or, afflicted or oppressed ones.

Verse 13

Consider my trouble, to wit, compassionately and effectually, so as to bring me out of it.

From the gates of death; from the brink or mouth of the grave, into which I was dropping, being as near death as a man is to the city that is come to the very gates of it. And so the phrase is used Psalms 107:18; Isaiah 38:10, and in other authors of whom see my Latin Synopsis.

Gates elsewhere signify power and policy, because the gates of cities were places both of counsel and strength; but

the gates of death are never so taken in Scripture.

Verse 14

In the gates, i.e. in the great assemblies, which were usually in the gates. Compare Proverbs 31:31; Isaiah 3:26. These gates he elegantly opposeth to the former, and declareth that if he be brought off them, he will go into these.

Of the daughter of Zion; either,

1. Of Jerusalem, so called also Isaiah 1:8; Zechariah 9:9, because at this time it was subject to Zion; which at this time was the seat of the king’s palace, and of the ark. For cities or towns belonging or subject unto any metropolis are commonly called its daughters, as Joshua 15:45; 2 Chronicles 13:19; Psalms 48:11; as the chief cities are called mothers, as 2 Samuel 20:19; Galatians 4:26. Or,

2. Of the people who live in, or belong to, or meet together for civil and religious matters in Zion. For cities are as it were mothers to their people, giving them birth and breeding, and therefore the people are commonly called their daughters. So the names of the daughters of Egypt, Jeremiah 46:11, and of Edom, Lamentations 4:21,Lamentations 4:22, and of Tyre, Psalms 45:12, and of Babel, Psalms 137:8, and of Jerusalem, Lamentations 2:13,Lamentations 2:15; Micah 4:8, are put for the people of those places.

I will rejoice, to wit, with spiritual joy and thanksgiving; else it were no fit motive to be used to God in prayer.

Verse 15

Fallen into that destruction which they designed to bring upon us.

Verse 16

The Lord is known, or, hath made himself known, or famous even among his enemies, by his most wise counsels and wonderful works.

By the judgment which he executeth upon the wicked, as it followeth.

Higgaion is either a musical term, or a note of attention, a kind of behold, intimating that the matter deserves deep and frequent meditation, or consideration, as the word signifies.

Verse 17

Into hell; either

1. Into the grave which is oft called sheol, into which they are said to be turned, or to return, because they were made of or taken out of the dust, Ecclesiastes 12:7. Or,

2. Into the place of eternal perdition; which also is sometimes called sheol, as Proverbs 15:24, and elsewhere. For he seems to speak here of those punishments which are peculiar to the wicked, whereas the grave is common to good and bad. And as, Psalms 9:8, he seems to speak of the last and general judgment of all the world, so this verse may be understood of the general punishment of all persons and nations consequent upon it. And into this place wicked men may be said to be turned back, or to return; either,

1. Because it is their own proper place, Acts 1:25, to which they belong, and from which they have their original and their wicked qualities, as being of their father the devil, John 8:44; in which respect the locusts (who are by all interpreters understood to be living men) are said to come out of the bottomless pit, Revelation 9:2,Revelation 9:3. Or,

2. Because they had set themselves as it were in battle array against God, and were beaten back and driven from his presence into their graves, and into hell itself.

All the nations; whom their great numbers and power cannot protect from God’s wrath.

That forget God; that do not consider nor regard God, nor his precepts, nor his threatenings and judgments, but go on securely and presumptuously in their oppressive and wicked courses.

Verse 18

The needy shall not alway be forgotten, though God for a time may seem to neglect or forget them, and suffer their enemies to triumph over them.

Shall not perish; which negative particle is fitly understood out of the former clause, as it is Psalms 1:5; Psalms 44:18; Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 28:27,Isaiah 28:28.

Verse 20

Subdue their proud and insolent spirits, and strike them with terror, or with some terrible judgment. But men, Heb. weak, and miserable, and mortal men, and therefore altogether unable to oppose the omnipotent and eternal God. This he saith, because wicked men, when they are advanced to great power and majesty, are very prone to forget their own frailty, and to carry themselves as if they were gods. See Isaiah 31:3; Ezekiel 30:7,Ezekiel 30:8; Daniel 5:21.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 9". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.