Psalm 9 What’s in a Name?

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Questions: Who is God? What is He like? Must we rejoice? Must we fear? What if we just forget Him? Will it matter? “Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 9:1-20

I will praise [thee], O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

This Psalm — like most of them, I suppose — starts out on a pretty upbeat note. What works is David so glad about?

When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.

Cool! I gotta admit, hearing about all the troubles David is facing can get a little depressing, so it is nice to see him enjoying a little victory for a change. For which he gives God all the credit:

For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.

American as I am, it has taken me a long time to grasp the significance of sitting on a throne. For that matter, British royalty is usually associated with William the Conqueror, and the Norse subjugation of Europe, so in most history I read the king is of a totally different race/culture from his main subjects. This is in stark contrast to, say, King Arthur or Charlemagne, where the king is the savior and protector of his people. At times like that, having a king of your own upon his throne must’ve been a glorious thing — for you, though the opposite for your enemies:

Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.

Beyond that, David specifically honors God for three things:

* the LORD shall endure for ever

* he shall judge the world in righteousness

* The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed

In other words, for his power, his holiness, and his love — his character, what we might call his “name.”

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

While it may seem that David is making a general praise report, he does have a personal application of all this:

Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble [which I suffer] of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:

I know some commentators disparage praying for oneself, but what I find interesting is that David’s prayers for rescue are not really self-centered — they are manifestly God-centered!

That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.

While it may not be surprising that David describes his enemies as ‘wicked’:

The heathen are sunk down in the pit [that] they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The LORD is known [by] the judgment [which] he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.

What is surprising is that he actually explains why they are wicked:

The wicked shall be turned into hell, [and] all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall [not] perish for ever.

If there is no God — or we forget His true nature — then it is easy to imagine that there are no consequences for ignoring the poor.

That would be a fatal mistake:

Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O LORD: [that] the nations may know
themselves [to be but] men. Selah.

The fear of the Lord is not merely the beginning of wisdom, it is vital in order to understand our proper relation to the rest of humanity, and universe. Which I suppose is the same thing.

Prayer

God, like the nations (heathen) before me, I too easily forget your true nature. I get wrapped up in my own life, and my own concerns, and dismiss the expectations of the poor and vulnerable. Teach me to both rejoice in your throne, and to fear you as I ought. May all my theories about you be put into living practice as I seek to love those you’ve placed in my path. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is, of course, courtesy of the immortal Bard. And somewhat ironic, since the heritage Juliet so blithely denies is ultimately the death of her.

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