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Monday, November 11, 2013

Psalm 9: Forever Enthroned

Psalm 9: Forever Enthroned

"To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

"When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

"You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
  you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out;
  the very memory of them has perished.

"But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,
  and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.

"The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
  for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

"Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

"Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me,
  O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
  I may rejoice in your salvation.

"The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
  in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
  the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.

"Higgaion. Selah

"The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

"Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men!

"Selah"

Psalms 9:1-20 (ESV)

What do you think?

  1. How can Christians rejoice in God's righteous judgement, while still allowing Christ to show in them His compassion and love?
  2. In what ways have you felt comfortable in "giving thanks to the LORD with my whole heart", in being glad and exulting in God? Have you danced? Skipped? Hollered? Is "moderation in religious ecstasy" a virtue, or a vice?
  3. What do you know of the Lord's name (His character, fame and reputation) that makes it easy for you to trust Him?
  4. David describes only two "gates" available to us: a gate to death, and a gate to salvation. According to this Psalm, what determines our ultimate destination? What New Testament references support this?
  5. David offers but one remedy for godless humanity, one hope for their salvation: fear. What can Christians do to encourage sinners to fear God?

Digging Deeper

"Muth-labben" means "To die for the son", probably the name of a popular song. It was derived from two words meaning "to die or kill" and "a son, the builder of the family name". "Muth-labben" occurs only one other time in the Bible:

"This is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever." Psalms 48:14 (ESV)

"Forever" is the same Hebrew word as "Muth-labben".

Acrostic Pattern

Originally, Psalms 9 and 10 together probably followed an acrostic pattern, every other stanza beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, although existing manuscripts show some gaps in the sequence.

"Higgaion" and "Selah"

"Higgaion" means a murmuring sound, from a word meaning to murmur (in pleasure or anger) or to ponder. It most likely was a musical cue for the choir leader.

"Selah" means suspension, as in a pause in the music. It comes from a word meaning to hang up or weigh. David's use in this psalm is probably intended to give emotion emphasis to what had just been said.

"Just cause"

"Just cause" means "a verdict and judgement", from two words meaning "to judge or pronounce sentence" and "to rule". David is applauding God's power, wisdom and righteousness in judging wicked nations who forget God, who put themselves in the place of God. David aligns himself with God, counting God's enemies as his own.

"The nations"

"The nations" refers to foreign nations, Gentiles. It is derived from a word meaning a thick mass or horde, whether of people, animals or insects.

"Gates"

"Gates" means an opening, as in a door or gate. It is derived from a word meaning to split or open, as in acting as a gatekeeper.

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc