Psalm 9 and 10: praise and solicitation

The psalms 9 and 10 are in communication with each other. In Hebrew, almost every stanza of the two begins with a subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In addition, both psalms emphasize human mortality (9, 20, 10, 18) and both mention the Gentiles (9, 5, 15, 17, 19-20, 10, 16). In the Septuagint, both psalms are listed as one.

In Psalm 9, David praises God for manifesting his justice in the jurisdiction of the world, and for being a true and everlasting judge upon whom those unjustly plagued can cast their trust.

Praise: the proclamation of justice

Psalm 9,1-13
The choirmaster. Almuth Labben. A psalm. From David. I want to praise [you], O Lord, with all my heart, I will tell all your miracles. I will rejoice and rejoice in you, I will sing your name, [you] Most High, while my enemies will retreat, fall and perish before your presence. For you have executed my law and my case; you have sat on the throne, a just judge. You have scolded nations, lost the godless, erased their name forever and ever; the enemy is finished, smashed forever; you destroyed cities, their memory has been erased. The LORD settles down forever, he has set his throne to judgment. And he, he will judge the world in righteousness, will judge the nations in justice. But to the oppressed the LORD is a high feast, a high feast in times of tribulation. Trust in you who know your name; because you have not abandoned who seek you, O Lord. Sing to the LORD who inhabits Zion proclaims his deeds among the peoples! For the one who investigates the spilled blood has thought of it; he did not forget the cries of the poor. This psalm is attributed to David and is said to be sung to the tune dying for the Son, as we read in other translations. What that means exactly is uncertain. In verses 1-3, David fervently praises God, tells of his miracles, and rejoices in him to be happy and praise him. Miracles (the Hebrew word means something out of the ordinary) are often used in the Psalms to speak of the works of the Lord. The reason for David's worship is described in verses 4 to 6. God lets justice prevail (v. 4) by standing up for David. His enemies are retreating (v. 4) and are killed (V. 6) and even the peoples have been eradicated (v. 15; 17; 19-20). Such a description depicts their decline. Not even the names of pagan peoples will be preserved. The memory and the memory of them will no longer exist (v. 7). All this happens because, God says, God is a just and true God and speaks of the earth from his throne (v. 8f). David also refers to this truth and righteousness to people who have suffered injustice. Those who have been oppressed, ignored and abused by humans are being re-established by the righteous judge. The Lord is their protection and shield in times of need. Since the Hebrew word for sanctuary is used twice in the verse 9, one can assume that security and protection will be of great importance. By knowing God's safety and protection, we can trust in Him. The verses end with an exhortation to the people, especially to those whom God does not forget (v. 13). He invites them to praise God (V2) and tell them what He has done for them (v. 12).

Prayer: Help for the troubled

Psalm 9,14-21
May I have mercy, Lord! Look at my misery on the part of my haters, lifting me up out of the gates of death: that I may tell all your praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion, that I rejoice over your salvation. The nations are sunk into the pit they made; in the net that they have hidden, their own foot has caught. The LORD has made himself known, he has exercised judgment: the wicked has become entangled in the work of his hands. Higgajon. May the godless, all nations who forget God turn to hell. For not forever is the poor forgotten, [still] the wretched hope is lost forever. Rise up, Lord, that man does not have power! May the nations be judged before your face! Put fear on them, Lord! May the nations recognize that they are human!

With the knowledge of God's salvation, David invokes God to speak to him in his suffering and give him a reason to praise. He asks God to perceive that he is being persecuted by his enemies (v. 14). In the danger of death, he has called upon God to deliver him from the gates of death (V 14, cf Job 38, 17, Ps 107, 18, Jes 38, 10). If saved, he would also tell all men of God's greatness and glory and be joyful in the gates of Zion (v. 15).

David's prayer was strengthened by his deep trust in God. In verses 16-18, David speaks of God's call for the destruction of those who do wrong. Verse 16 was probably written when the enemy was destroyed. If so, David has been waiting for the adversaries to fall into their own pits. But the righteousness of the Lord is well-known everywhere, as the evil that the unrighteous dispenses falls back upon them. The fate of the wicked contrasts with that of the poor (v. 18-19). Your hope will not be lost, but fulfilled. Those who reject and ignore God have no hope. Psalm 9 ends with prayer that God may rise and gain the upper hand and exercise justice. Such a judgment would make the Gentiles realize that they are human and can not suppress those who trust in God.

In this psalm, David continues his prayer from Psalm 9 by asking God not to wait any longer with his jurisdiction. He described the overwhelming power of the wicked against God and against humans and then struggles with God to stand up and avenge the poor by destroying the wicked.

Description of the bad guys

Psalm 10,1-11
Why, O Lord, do you stand aloof, hide in times of tribulation? In pride, the wicked persecute the wretched. They are seized by the attacks they have devised. For the godless praises because of the desire of his soul; and the avaricious blasphemes, he despises the LORD. The godless [thought] cocky: He will not investigate. It is not a god! are all his thoughts. His ways are successful all the time. High up are your dishes, far from him; all his adversaries - he blows them. He speaks in his heart: I will not waver, from sex to sex in no misfortune. His mouth is full of curses, full of deceit and oppression; under his tongue is hardship and evil. He sits in the ambush of the courtyards, in hiding he kills the innocent; his eyes peek after the poor man. He lurks in hiding place like a lion in his thicket; he lurks to catch the wretch; He catches the wretched by pulling him into his net. He smashes, crouches down; and the poor fall by his mighty [powers]. He speaks in his heart: God has forgotten, has hidden his face, he does not see forever!

The first part of this psalm is a description of the evil power of the wicked. At the beginning, the writer (probably David) complains to God, who seems to be indifferent to the needs of the poor. He asks why God does not seem to be in this injustice. The question of why is a clear account of how oppressed people feel when they call to God. Take note of this very honest and open relationship between David and God.

In the verses 2-7 David then performs the nature of the adversary. Full of pride, arrogance and greed (v. 2), the wicked plague the weak and speak in obscene words of God. The evil man is filled with pride and generosity and gives no room to God and his commandments. Such a person is sure that he will not leave his malice. He believes that he can continue his activities unchecked (v. 5) and will not experience any distress (v. 6). His words are false and destructive and they cause trouble and evil (v. 7).

In verses 8-11, David describes the evil as people who lurk in secret and how a lion attacks their defenseless victims, pulling them away like a fisherman in their web. These images of lions and fishermen are reminiscent of calculating people just waiting to attack someone. The victims are destroyed by the evil and because God does not immediately come to the rescue, the wicked are convinced that God does not care for them or takes care of them.

Request for retribution

Psalm 10,12-18
Rise up, LORD! God, raise your hand! Do not forget the wretched! Why may the godless despise God, speak in his heart: "You will not investigate?" You have seen it, for you, you look on hardship and grief to take it into your hands. You leave it to the poor, the fatherless; you're helper Break the arm of the godless and evil! Ahnde his godlessness that you [they] do not find [more]! The LORD is king forever and ever; disappeared are the nations from his country. You have heard the wish of the meek, LORD; you strengthen your heart, let your ears be attentive to the right of the orphan and the oppressed, that in the future no one from the earth will cringe anymore.
In an honest prayer for retribution and revenge, David calls on God to get up (9, 20) and help the helpless (10, 9). One reason for this request is that the wicked should not be allowed to despise God and believe that they will get away with it. The Lord should be moved to answer, because the weak rely on God seeing their distress and pain and being their helper (v. 14). The Psalmist specifically asks about the destruction of the wicked (v. 15). Again, the description is very vivid: break the arm, so you have no more power. If God really punishes the wicked so much, then they have to answer their questions. David would then no longer be able to say that God does not care for the oppressed and makes judgment among the godless.

In verses 16-18, the psalm ends with David's sure trust that God has heard him in his prayer. As in Psalm 9, he declares God's rule despite all circumstances (V. 9, 7). Those who stand in his way will perish (V. 9, 3, 9, 5, 9, 15). David was sure that God would hear and stand up for the supplications and cries of the oppressed so that the ungodly people (9, 20) would have no power over them.


David puts his heart to God. He is not afraid to tell him about his worries and doubts, not even his divine doubts. By doing so, he is reminded that God is faithful and just and that a situation in which God does not seem to be present is only temporary. It's a snapshot. God will be known as who he is: the one who cares, stands up for the helpless and speaks justice to the wicked.

It is a great blessing to have recorded these prayers, because we too can have such feelings. The Psalms help us to express and deal with them. They help us to remember our faithful God again. Give him praise and bring her wishes and longings before him.

by Ted Johnston

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