Treasury of David

Charles Spurgeon

PSALM 9
 

Verse 1. "I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works!" Psalm 9:1

With a holy resolution the songster begins his hymn; I will praise you, O Lord. It sometimes needs all our determination to face the foe, and bless the Lord in the teeth of his enemies; vowing that whoever else may be silent, we will bless his name. Here, however, the overthrow of the foe is viewed as complete, and the song flows with sacred fullness of delight. It is our duty to praise the Lord; let us perform it as a privilege.

Observe that David's praise is all given to the Lord. Praise is to be offered to God alone; we may be grateful to the intermediate agent, but our thanks must have long wings and mount aloft to Heaven.

With my whole heart. Half a heart, is no heart.

I will show forth. There is true praise to the thankful telling forth to others of our heavenly Father's dealings with us; this is one of the themes upon which the godly should speak often to one another; and it will not be casting pearls before swine if we make even the ungodly hear of the loving-kindness of the Lord to us.

All your marvelous works. Gratitude for one mercy, refreshes the memory as to thousands of others. One silver link in the chain, draws up a long series of tender remembrances. Here is eternal work for us, for there can be no end to the showing forth of all his deeds of love. If we consider our own sinfulness and nothingness, we must feel that every work of preservation, forgiveness, deliverance, sanctification, etc., which the Lord has wrought for us, or in us is a marvelous work. Even in Heaven, divine loving-kindness will doubtless be as much a theme of surprise as of rapture.
 

Verse 2. "I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:2

Gladness and joy are the appropriate spirit in which to praise the goodness of the Lord. Birds extol the Creator in notes of overflowing joy, the cattle low forth his praise with tumult of happiness, and the fish leap up in his worship with excess of delight.

Moloch may be worshiped with shrieks of pain, and Juggernaut may be honored by dying groans and barbarous yells but he whose name is Love, is best pleased with the holy mirth, and sanctified gladness of his people. Daily rejoicing is an ornament to the Christian character, and a suitable robe for God's choristers to wear. God loves a cheerful giver, whether it be the gold of his purse or the gold of his mouth which he presents upon his altar.

I will sing praise to your name, O most High. Songs are the fitting expression of inward thankfulness, and it were well if we indulge ourselves and honored our Lord with more of them. Mr. B.P. Power has well said, "The sailors give a cheery cry as they weigh anchor, the ploughman whistles in the morning as he drives his team; the milkmaid sings her rustic song as she sets about her early task; when soldiers are leaving friends behind them, they march to the quick notes of some lively air. A praising spirit would do for us all, what their songs and music do for them; and if only we could determine to praise the Lord, we would surmount many a difficulty which our low spirits never would have been equal to, and we would do double the work which can be done if the heart is languid in its beating, if we are crushed and trodden down in soul. As the evil spirit in Saul yielded in olden time to the influence of the harp of the son of Jesse, so would the spirit of melancholy often take flight from us, if only we would take up the song of praise.
 

Verse 3. "My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you." Psalm 9:3

God's presence is evermore sufficient to work the defeat of our most furious foes, and their ruin is so complete when the Lord takes them in hand, that even flight cannot save them they fall to rise no more when he pursues them. We must be careful, like David, to give all the glory to him whose presence gives the victory. If we have here the exultings of our conquering Captain, let us make the triumphs of the Redeemer the triumphs of the redeemed, and rejoice with him at the total defeat of all his foes.
 

Verse 4. "For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness." Psalm 9:4

One of our nobility has for his motto, "I will maintain it;" but the Christian has a better and more humble one, "You have maintained it." "God and my right," are united by my faith: while God lives, my right shall never be taken from me. If we seek to maintain the cause and honor of our Lord, we may suffer reproach and misrepresentation, but it is a rich comfort to remember that he who sits on the throne knows our hearts, and will not leave us to the ignorant and ungenerous judgment of erring man.
 

Verse 5. "You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever." Psalm 9:5

God rebukes before he destroys, but when he once comes to blows with the wicked, he ceases not until he has dashed them in pieces so small that their very name is forgotten, and their remembrance is put out forever and ever. How often the word "You" occurs in this and the former verse, to show us that the grateful strain mounts up directly to the Lord as does the smoke from the altar when the air is still. My soul send up all the music of all your powers to him who has been and is your sure deliverance.
 

Verse 6. "Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished." Psalm 9:6

Here the Psalmist exults over the fallen foe. He bends as it were, over his prostrate form, and insults his once vaunted strength. He plucks the boaster's song out of his mouth, and sings it for him in derision. After this fashion does our Glorious Redeemer ask of death, "Where is your sting?" and of the grave, "Where is your victory?" The spoiler is spoiled, and he who made captive is led into captivity himself. Let the daughters of Jerusalem go forth to meet their King, and praise him with timbrel and harp.

In the light of the past, the future is not doubtful. Since the same Almighty God fills the throne of power, we can with unhesitating confidence, exult in our security for all time to come.
 

Verse 7. "But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment!" Psalm 9:7

The enduring existence and unchanging dominion of our Jehovah, are the firm foundations of our joy. The enemy and his destructions shall come to a perpetual end, but God and his throne shall endure forever. The eternity of divine sovereignty yields unfailing consolation.

By the throne being prepared for judgment, we are to understand the swiftness of divine justice. In Heaven's court, suitors are not worn out with long delays. Thousands may come at once to the throne of the Judge of all the earth, but neither plaintiff nor defendant shall have to complain that he is not prepared to give their cause a fair hearing.
 

Verse 8. "He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness." Psalm 9:8

Whatever earthly courts may do, Heaven's throne ministers judgment in uprightness. Partiality and respect of persons are things unknown in the dealings of the Holy One of Israel. How the prospect of appearing before the impartial tribunal of the Great King should act as a check to us when tempted to sin, and as a comfort when we are slandered or oppressed.

"In this judgment,
tears will not prevail,
prayers will not be heard,
promises will not be admitted,
repentance will be too late; and
as for riches, honorable titles, scepters, and crowns these will profit much less! The inquisition shall be so minute and diligent, that not one light thought nor one idle word shall be forgotten. For Truth Himself has said, not in jest, but in earnest, "Of every idle word which men have spoken they shall give an account in the day of judgment!" Oh, how many who now sin with great delight, yes, even with greediness (as if we served a God of wood or of stone, which sees nothing, or can do nothing), will be then astonished, ashamed, and silent! Then shall the days of your mirth be ended, and you shall be overwhelmed with everlasting darkness; and instead of your pleasures, you shall have everlasting torments!" Thomas Tymme
 

Verse 9. "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

He who gives no quarter to the wicked in the day of judgment, is the defense and refuge of his saints in the day of trouble. There are many forms of oppression; both from man and from Satan, oppression comes to us; and for all its forms, a refuge is provided in the Lord Jehovah. There were cities of refuge under the law, God is our refuge-city under the gospel. As the ships when vexed with tempest make for harbor, so do the oppressed hasten to the wings of a just and gracious God. He is a high tower so impregnable, that the hosts of Hell cannot take it by storm, and from its lofty heights, faith looks down with scorn upon her enemies!

"It is reported of the Egyptians that being vexed with gnats, they used to sleep in high towers, whereby, those creatures not being able to soar so high, they are delivered from the biting of them. Just so should it be with us, when bitten with cares and fear did we but run to God for refuge, and rest confident of his help." John Trapp.
 

Verse 10. "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:10

Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God; and knowledge is best when it exercises itself upon the name of God. This most excellent knowledge, leads to the most excellent grace of faith. O, to learn more of the attributes and character of God. Unbelief, that hooting nightbird, cannot live in the light of divine knowledge, it flees before the sun of God's great and gracious name.

If we read this verse literally, there is, no doubt, a glorious fullness of assurance in the names of God. By knowing his name, is also meant an experimental acquaintance with the attributes of God every one of them are anchors to hold the soul from drifting in seasons of peril. The Lord may hide his face for a season from his people, but he never has utterly, finally, really, or angrily forsaken those who seek him. Let the poor seekers draw comfort from this fact, and let the finders rejoice yet more exceedingly, for what must be the Lord's faithfulness to those who find, if he is so gracious to those who seek.

"O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall how kind you are,
How good to those who seek.

"But what to those who find, ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus what it is,
None but his loved ones know."

"Faith is an intelligent grace; though there can be knowledge without faith, yet there can be no faith without knowledge. One calls it quick-sighted faith. Knowledge must carry the torch before faith. Before faith be wrought, God shines in with a light upon the understanding. A blind faith is as bad as a dead faith: that eye may as well be said to be a good eye which is without sight as that faith is good without knowledge. Devout ignorance damns; which condemns the church of Rome they set up an altar to an unknown God. They say ignorance is the mother of devotion; but surely, where the sun is set in the understanding it must needs be night in the affections. So necessary is knowledge to the being of faith, that the Scriptures do sometimes baptize faith with the name of knowledge. Isaiah 53:11. "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." Knowledge is put there for faith." Thomas Watson.
 

Verse 11. "Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done!" Psalm 9:11

Being full of gratitude himself, our inspired author is eager to excite others to join the strain, and praise God in the same manner as he himself vowed to do in the first and second verses. The heavenly spirit of praise is gloriously contagious, and he who has it, is never content unless he can excite all who surround him to unite in his sweet employment.

Singing and preaching, as means of glorifying God, are here joined together, and it is remarkable that, connected with all revivals of gospel ministry, there has been a sudden outburst of the spirit of song. Luther's Psalms and Hymns were in all men's mouths in the time of the Reformation; and in the modern revival under Wesley and Whitefield, the strains of Charles Wesley, Cennick, Berridge, Toplady, Hart, Newton, and many others, were the outgrowth of restored piety.

The singing of the birds of praise, fitly accompanies the return of the gracious spring of divine visitation through the proclamation of the truth. Sing on brethren, and preach on, and these shall both be a token that the Lord still dwells in Zion. It will be well for us when coming up to Zion, to remember that the Lord dwells among his saints, and is to be had in peculiar reverence of all those that are about him!
 

Verse 12. "For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted!" Psalm 9:12

When an inquest is held concerning the blood of the oppressed, the martyred saints will have the first remembrance; he will avenge his own elect. Those saints who are living shall also be heard; they shall be exonerated from blame, and kept from destruction, even when the Lord's most terrible work is going on; the man with the inkhorn by his side, shall mark them all for safety, before the slaughtermen are permitted to smite the Lord's enemies. The humble cry of the poorest saints shall neither be drowned by the voice of the thundering justice, nor by the shrieks of the condemned and damned.

"There is a time when God will make inquisition for innocent blood. The Hebrew word signifies not barely to seek, to search but to seek, search, and inquire with all diligence and care imaginable. Oh, there is a time coming when the Lord will make a very diligent and careful search and inquiry after all the innocent blood of his afflicted and persecuted people, which persecutors and tyrants have spilt as water upon the ground. And woe to persecutors when God shall make a more strict, critical, and careful inquiry after the blood of his people, than ever was made in the inquisition of Spain, where all things are carried with the greatest diligence, subtlety, secrecy, and severity. O persecutors, there is a time coming, when God will inquire who silenced and suspended such and such ministers, and who stopped the mouths of such and such, and who imprisoned, confined, and banished such and such, who were once burning and shining lights, and who were willing to spend and be spent that sinners might be saved, and that Christ might be glorified. There is a time when the Lord will make a very narrow enquiry into all the actions and practices of ecclesiastical courts, high commissions, committees, assizes, etc., and deal with persecutors as they have dealt with his people!" Thomas Brooks.
 

Verse 13. "Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death," Psalm 9:13

Memories of the past and confidences concerning the future, conducted the man of God to the mercy seat to plead for the needs of the present. Between praising and praying, he divided all his time. How could he have spent it more profitably?

His first prayer is one suitable for all persons and occasions, it breathes a humble spirit, indicates self-knowledge, appeals to the proper attributes, and to the fitting person.

Have mercy upon me, O Lord. Just as Luther used to call some texts little bibles, so we may call this sentence a little prayer-book; for it has in it the soul and marrow of prayer. It is like the angelic sword which turns every way. The ladder looks to be short, but it reaches from earth to Heaven.

What a noble title is here given to the Most High. You who lift me up from the gates of death! What a glorious lift! In sickness, in sin, in despair, in temptation, we have been brought very low, and the gloomy portal has seemed as if it would open to imprison us but underneath us were the everlasting arms, and, therefore, we have been uplifted even to the gates of Heaven. Trapp quaintly says, "He commonly reserves his hand for a dead lift, and rescues those who were even talking of their graves."

Have mercy upon me, O Lord. Here is the publican's prayer expounded, commended, presented, and fulfilled.
 

Verse 14. "that I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation." Psalm 9:14

We must not overlook David's object in desiring mercy, it is God's glory: "that I may declare your praises." Saints are not so selfish as to look only to self they desire mercy's diamond, that they may let others see it flash and sparkle, and may admire Him who gives such priceless gems to his beloved.

The contrast between the gates of death and the gates of the New Jerusalem is very striking; let our songs be excited to the highest and most rapturous pitch by the double consideration of whence we are taken, and to what we have been advanced, and let our prayers for mercy be made more energetic and agonizing by a sense of the grace which such a salvation implies. When David speaks of his showing forth all God's praises, he means that, in his deliverance, sovereign grace in all its heights and depths would be magnified. Just as our hymn puts it:

"O the length and breadth of love!
Jesus, Savior, can it be?
All your mercy's height I prove,
All the depth is seen in me!"

Here ends the first part of this instructive Psalm, and in pausing awhile, we feel bound to confess that our exposition has only flitted over its surface, and has not dug into the depths. The verses are singularly full of teaching, and if the Holy Spirit shall bless the reader, he may go over this Psalm, as the writer has done scores of times, and see on each occasion fresh beauties.
 

Verse 15-16. "The heathen have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden! The LORD is known by the judgment He executes. The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." Psalm 9:15-16

In considering this terrible picture of the Lord's overwhelming judgments of his enemies, we are called upon to ponder and meditate upon it with deep seriousness. Meditate, pause. Consider, and tune your instrument. Bethink yourselves and solemnly adjust your hearts to the solemnity which is so well becoming the subject. Let us in a humble spirit approach these verses, and notice, first, that the character of God requires the punishment of sin.

"While the heathen are digging pits for others, there is a pit digging and a grave making for themselves. They have a measure to make up, and a treasury to fill, which at length will be broken open, which, I think, should take off them which are set upon mischief from pleasing themselves in their plots. Alas! they are but plotting their own ruin, and building a Babel which will fall upon their own heads. If there were any commendation in plotting, then that great plotter of plotters, that great engineer, Satan, would go beyond us all, and take all the credit from us. But let us not envy Satan and his dupes in their glory. They had need of something to comfort them. Let them please themselves with their trade. The day is coming wherein the daughter of Zion shall laugh them to scorn. Usually the delivery of God's children is joined with the destruction of his enemies; Saul's death and David's deliverance; the Israelites' deliverance and the Egyptians drowning. The church and her opposites are like the scales of a balance; when one goes up, the other goes down." Richard Sibbes.

Jehovah is known by the judgment which he executes; his holiness and abhorrence of sin is thus displayed. A ruler who winked at evil would soon be known by all his subjects to be evil himself; and he, on the other hand, who is severely just in judgment reveals his own nature thereby. So long as our God is God, he will not, he cannot spare the guilty; except through that one glorious way in which he is just, and yet the justifier of him who believes in Jesus.

We must notice, secondly, that the manner of God's judgment is singularly wise, and indisputably just. He makes the wicked become their own executioners: "The heathen have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden!" Like cunning hunters, they prepared a pitfall for the godly and fell into it themselves! The foot of the victim escaped their crafty snares but the net surrounded themselves! The cruel snare was laboriously manufactured and it proved its efficacy by snaring its own maker!

Persecutors and oppressors are often ruined by their own malicious projects.
Drunkards kill themselves;
prodigals beggar themselves;
the contentious are involved in hurtful disputes;
the immoral are devoured with fierce diseases;
the envious eat at their own hearts; and
blasphemers curse their own souls.

Thus, men may read their sin, in their punishment. They sowed the seed of sin and the ripe fruit of damnation is the natural result!

"The wages that sin bargains with the sinner are life, pleasure, and profit. But the wages it pays him with are death, torment, and damnation. He who would understand the falsehood and deceit of sin must compare its promises and its payment together!" Robert South
 

Verse 17. "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God!" Psalm 9:17

The justice which has punished the wicked, and preserved the righteous, remains the same, and therefore in days to come, retribution will surely be meted out.

How solemn is the seventeenth verse, especially in its warning to forgetters of God:
the moral who are not devout,
the honest who are not prayerful,
the benevolent who are not believing,
the amiable who are not converted these must all have their own portion with the openly wicked in the Hell which is prepared for the devil and his demons! There are whole nations of such; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane or profligate!

According to the very forceful expression in the Hebrew, the nethermost Hell will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong! Forgetfulness of God seems to be a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it!

The wicked shall be turned into Hell. "The ungodly at death must undergo God's fury and indignation. I have read of a lodestone which has two corners with one it draws the iron to it, with the other it thrusts the iron away from it. Just so, God has two hands, of mercy and justice: with the one He will draw the godly to Heaven, with the other He will thrust the sinner to Hell!

"And oh, how dreadful is that place! It is called a fiery lake (Revelation 20:15). A lake, to denote the plenty of torments in Hell. A fiery lake, to show the fierceness of them! Fire is the most torturing element. Strabo in his geography mentions a lake of such a pestiferous nature, that it scalds off the skin of whatever is cast into it. But, alas! that lake is cool compared with this fiery lake into which the damned are thrown! To demonstrate that this fire is terrible, there are two most dreadful qualities in it.

It is sulphurous, it is mixed with brimstone (Revelation 21:8), which is stinking and suffocating.

It is inextinguishable; though the wicked shall be choked in the flames, yet not consumed (Revelation 20:10). "And the devil was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever!" Behold the deplorable condition of all ungodly ones in the eternal world they shall have a life that always dies and a death that always lives! May not this affright men out of their sins, and make them become godly unless they are resolved to experience how hot the Hell-fire is!" Thomas Watson
 

Verse 18. "For the needy shall not always be forgotten; The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever!" Psalm 9:18

Mercy is as ready to her work, as ever justice can be. Needy souls fear that they are forgotten; well, if it is so, let them rejoice that they shall not always be so. Satan tells poor tremblers that their hope shall perish, but they have here the divine assurance that their expectation shall not perish forever. "The Lord's people are a humbled people, afflicted, emptied, sensible of need, driven to a daily attendance on God, daily begging of him, and living upon the hope of what is promised;" such persons may have to wait, but they shall find that they do not wait in vain.

"This is a sweet promise for a thousand occasions, and when pleaded before the throne in his name who comprehends in himself every promise, and is indeed himself the great promise of the Bible, it would be found like all others, yes and amen." Robert Hawker
 

Verse 19. "Arise, O LORD! Do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your sight!" Psalm 9:19

Prayers are the believer's weapons of war. When the battle is too hard for us, by prayer we call in our omnipotent Ally, who, as it were, lies in ambush until faith gives the signal by crying out, "Arise, O Lord!" Although our cause is all but lost, it shall be soon won again, if the Almighty does but bestir himself. He will not allow man to prevail over God, but with swift judgments will confound their boastings.

In the very sight of God, the wicked will be punished, and He who is now all tenderness, will have no affections of compassion for them since they had no tears of repentance while their day of grace endured.
 

Verse 20. "Put them in fear, O LORD, that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah." Psalm 9:20

One would think that men would not grow so vain as to deny themselves to be but men, but it appears to be a lesson which only a divine schoolmaster can teach to some proud spirits. Crowns leave their wearers but men, degrees of eminent learning make their owners not more than men, valor and conquest cannot elevate beyond the dead level of "but men."

All the wealth of Croesus,
all the wisdom of Solomon,
all the power of Alexander,
all the eloquence of Demosthenes,
if added together, would leave the possessor but a man! May we ever remember this, lest like those in the text, we should be put in fear.

Before leaving this Psalm, it will be very profitable if the student will peruse it again as the triumphal hymn of the Redeemer, as he devoutly brings the glory of his victories and lays it down at his Father's feet. Let us joy in his joy, and our joy shall be full.