The Book of Psalms Chapter Nine Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Sing Praise To The Lord
"I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders. 2 I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High." Praise recognizes who God is and thanks Him for what He does. You can see something of the microscopic world through a microscope, and you can know a lot about the Lord through faith. Vision allows you to see what the sightless can't, and faith lets you perceive the otherwise unknowable. God created you out of love. Every breath you take is His gift, as are all the abilities you possess. Your willingness to "sing praise" to Him in love; to tell others of Him—it all starts to make sense as a way of life when you allow faith in the Lord to burst forth within. The necessity of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins becomes alive when we become willing to trust in Him for all the "wonders" He has done. Do you love Him? Do you long for a relationship with Him in which you encounter and "exult" Him continually?—then TELL Him; talk to the One who knows you better than you do, and God loves it when you pray!
"When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before You. 4 For You have maintained my just cause;
You have sat on the throne judging righteously." To think you don't have enemies is to miss a great deal of what life is all about. You've likely noticed how little you perceive of what others are thinking. Someone may smile at your face while plotting your doom. We see "body language" but don't know their thoughts, and we're probably better off if we don't know. To make it worse, have you noticed Ephesians 6:12 and its context, describing "spiritual wickedness in high places"? There's more to our problems than we ordinarily perceive. But the good news in Ephesians and Psalms, is that God Himself battles for us. He is our Protector and we can trust Him. Note that we aren't perfect in our thoughts either, but the moment we place our faith in the Lord, a process begins—we start to become less like the enemy and incredibly we gradually become more like our Lord, who is filled with justice, righteousness and love.
"You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins,
and You have uprooted the cities; the very memory of them has perished." Do you see that God does not merely live in the present as we do? He speaks of the future from the distant past and He knows what will happen to you and me. Are you troubled by the injustice in the world? The "wicked" are those who successfully resist the Lord and reject the love He longs to shower upon them. After this life, we will be able to see firsthand how God has "rebuked the nations... destroyed the wicked... blotted out their name(s), (brought) the enemy... to an end..." and more. We will gasp as we understand that the justice we longed for has been fulfilled in and through our Lord. There really is an end to wickedness. Notice that the Lord has "uprooted the cities," which includes an eventual end to our technological advances. It is not technology that is bad, but as a human race, WE are bad, misusing the abilities and gifts God has granted to us. Included here is a glimpse of a literal "hell," endless in scope, which is troublesome from our limited perspective, but that place is for those who don't want the Lord or His redemption. Eventually they get their way and go to a place where they will be without Him—forever.
"But the Lord abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment, 8 And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity." Our gadgets, like cars, computers, tools and cities, actually don't last very long. Like us, they wear out. Our Lord God lasts FOREVER and we were designed to last forever with Him. As a fallen race of people, our judgment is poor. Humans tend to play something like emotional poker or chess games with each other, revealing few true intentions. God looks right through our deceptions and judges the world in righteousness. Each one will get what they deserve, except the Lord graciously took the place of those who accept Him and what He has done. In the years when I was a Superior Court Clerk, I recall that one of the judges I worked with, sometimes invited the attorneys before Him to stipulate that He could hear a portion of the case "in equity." His decision was to be less based on human law, which is flawed, and based more on common sense. That judge, by the way, knew and loved the Lord. God judges us in righteousness because He substituted Himself, paying the price we could not pay. It's time to accept the Lord and what He has done, on HIS terms, not merely on ours. Otherwise, we will end up destroyed and forgotten, like we saw in Verse 5.
"The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble; 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." I don't know about you, but there are times when I would like to run to a beautiful place, perhaps in another dimension, in which I would be both satisfied and safe. That's what the Lord is offering—everlasting safety, satisfaction and love to those who will trust in Him and what He has done. Have faith in Him who will "never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Your body is not all that you are. Yes, you can become injured or dead, but that's not the end of you. It's not unlike my car. In past decades, I occasionally had an accident in which my car was severely damaged. I responded by going to my insurance company, who sometimes declared my car to be "totaled," and other times they arranged for repair. In either case, I was soon back on the road, somewhat more nervous and careful than before, but driving once again. God is something like that, "a stronghold for the oppressed... in times of trouble." We only have insurance as long as we pay the premiums, but as to our bodies and lives, God Himself has paid the Premium, and He is our "stronghold"—forever. He will never forsake those who place their faith in Him.
"Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; declare among the peoples His deeds. 12 For He who requires blood remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted." The Lord speaks to us in parables, for it is better that we understand with our hearts than to merely know Him intellectually. Our logic is flawed because of our tendency to not believe what we don't want to believe. Israel was and is a great parable, a series of them actually, designed to cause us to see our need for faith in the Lord. "He who requires blood" is a reference to the millions of blood sacrifices of animals offered through the priests of that nation. Every sacrifice looked forward to a time when God Himself would become the Blood Sacrifice who delivers us from sin and death. "Zion" was a parable also. In Hebrews 12:22-24 and its context, we see that the earthly Zion is an outward picture of a heavenly place, and we, the "church of the firstborn" are "registered in heaven." Your real affiliation is not a nearby church, but instead we are "just men (and women) made perfect" in Him. Our membership is written on His hands, feet, side and heart—we are His.
"Be gracious to me, O Lord!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 That I may tell of all Your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in Your salvation." I do not know what your troubles in life may be, but God knows. Your friends and family may be aware or not, whereas God not only knows, but He also LISTENS. Like the good parent listens to the child, God listens to you and me. He loves it when we tell Him. The schoolyard bully is after us, along with the bad corporate supervisor and the dictator of a country. God sees your "affliction" and He IS "gracious" in caring for you. How many times has He saved you from the "gates of death?" We don't know, but it's been a lot of times—perhaps every day. So we trust Him, we praise Him, we tell others, and we rejoice in our salvation... not because we have to, but because we WANT to. He is Wonderful.
"The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made;
in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The Lord has made Himself known;
He has executed judgment.
In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared. Higgaion Selah." A lot of our troubles, national and personal, have been self-caused. Some of our problems are subtle because God uses a variety of corrective measures in delivering us from sin, selfishness and death. Hebrews 12:5-6, quotes Proverbs 3:11-12, where we are informed, "Whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." Sadly, many individuals, and nations, too, have not responded to the Lord's correction, and history is littered with the remains of the unfaithful. The bones of empires are scattered everywhere, and we should see them for what they are: A warning to us, to our nation, that we must repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The alternative is personal and national disaster. The word "Selah" is likely a musical rest, reminding us that this was a song of David, and the descriptive word with it, adds emphasis, reminding us to LISTEN to the words of this Psalm, this song, this promise of God.
"The wicked will return to Sheol,
even all the nations who forget God. 18 For the needy will not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever." Even in those nations where people and organizations reach out to help the "needy," it always seems like the poor and the "afflicted" outnumber the programs designed to help them. What is "religion," by the way? James answers the question: It is "to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted by the world" (James 1:27). Religion is not about blowing each other up, as so many have done through the centuries, and religion is so much more than ceremonial rituals. It's about faith in the Lord who draws us to help others. The "needy" will not be forgotten because God will not forget them. The "afflicted" will be remembered because God remembers, and He prompts His people to help those in need.
"Arise, O Lord, do not let 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." The phrase, "do not let man prevail," should be a warning to us—Some decades ago, the singer Frank Sinatra made many songs famous, and the words of one of them included, "I'll do it MY way..." The healthy decision for all of us is to do it (whatever it is)—God's way! His way is faith and hope in the Lord, which produces love in us as seen in 1 Corinthians 13. Look around the world—when men prevail, the result is war, division and unhappiness. David prays here: "Put them in fear..." We don't like to be afraid, but when we are, it's important to understand that, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). The rulers of nations and organizations, athletes, the movie "stars," popular personalities such as famous singers—all "are but men" (or women, as the case may be). God is the One we need. Let's sing praise to Him.
Lord, I praise You and worship You. Look into my motives, my intentions, and heal me from sin. Protect me and my loved ones, Lord. Lead me in the Way everlasting. I trust in You. I am Yours. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.