Psalm 9: Bittersweet
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished.
The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.
Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation.
The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal.
Not only is today National Superhero Day but it is also my younger brother’s birthday! Some of you have had birthdays while we are sheltered in place and they are kind of bittersweet. They are still special but all of the typical things we might usually do to celebrate are on hold. Now that we are all old, our family birthday tradition is to go to dinner wherever the birthday person wants to go. Then we have dessert back at my parent’s house.
We will still celebrate, but it will be different. David is in a rough place but still makes the effort to praise God and thank Him for all He has done. Psalm 9 starts with David praising God and then turns to recounting how God has destroyed David’s enemies. The tone switches again at verse 13 and David is now pleading with God to save him from the persecution of his enemies.
In this Psalm you might notice at the top that it says that it is a psalm of David to the tune of “The Death of the Son”. The question then comes to our minds - which son are we talking about? Remember where we have been since Psalm 3. David has been fleeing Absalom and we have been walking with David through his anguish all the way from Psalm 3 through Psalm 7. Psalm 8 is an anchor in a sea of chaos to keep our gaze on the indescribable and undeniable majesty of God as well as set our focus back on the messages of the Psalms.
Psalm 9 and 10 were actually originally written as one psalm. In entirety, psalms 9 and 10 are an acrostic poem with each stanza beginning with the next Hebrew letter. When we look at psalm 9 on its own, there is a lot of bitter-sweet happening. The sweetness of praise that David starts with and then the bitterness of pleading with God to save him from his enemies… again.
Challenge: Take some time today to pray for the “bitter” things happening. What are you sad/upset/frustrated/angered by? You can tell God about these things out loud, in your head, or by writing it out. Then take time to think about what God has done recently and praise Him for those things.