Psalms 9


David praises God for the benefits which he has granted to

Israel in general, and to himself in particular, 1-4.

He encourages himself in the Lord, knowing that he will ever

judge righteously, and be a refuge for the distressed, 7-10.

He exhorts the people to praise God for his judgments, 11, 12;

prays for mercy and support; and thanks God for his judgments

executed upon the heathen, 13-16.

He foretells the destruction of the ungodly, 17;

prays for the poor and needy, and against their oppressors,



The inscription to this Psalm in the HEBREW text is, To the

chief Musician upon Muth-lab-ben, A Psalm of David. The CHALDEE

has, "A Song of David, to be sung concerning the Death of the

Strong Man, (or champion, degabra,) who went out between

the Camps;" that is, Goliath, on account of whose defeat this

Psalm has been supposed by many to have been composed. The date in

the margin is several years posterior to the death of Goliath. See

the introduction.

The VULGATE: A Psalm of David, for the end; concerning the

secrets of the Son."

The SEPTUAGINT and AETHIOPIC are the same with the Vulgate.

The SYRIAC: "A Psalm of David concerning Christ's receiving the

throne and the kingdom, and defeating his enemies.

The ARABIC: "Concerning the mysteries of the Son, as to the

glory of Christ, his resurrection, and kingdom, and the

destruction of all the disobedient."

Houbigant causes the Hebrew title to agree with the Vulgate,

Septuagint, and AEthiopic, by uniting al muth,

"concerning the death," into the word alamoth, which

signifies secrets or hidden things. "To the chief musician, or

conqueror; secrets concerning the Son: A Psalm of David.

About a hundred MSS. and printed editions unite the words as

above. Some translate alamoth, "concerning the youth or

infancy; the infancy of the Son." Several of the fathers have on

this ground interpreted it, "concerning the incarnation of our

Lord." Indeed the title and the Psalm have been so variously

understood, that it would be as painful as it would be useless to

follow the different commentators, both ancient and modern,

through all their conjectures.

Verse 1. I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart] And it

is only when the whole heart is employed in the work that God can

look upon it with acceptance.

I will show forth] asapperah, "I will number out, or

reckon up;" a very difficult task, niphleotheycha, "thy

miracles;" supernatural interventions of thy power and goodness.

He whose eye is attentive to the operation of God's hand will find

many of these. In the Vulgate this Psalm begins with Confitebor

tibi, Domine, "I will confess unto thee, O Lord," which my old MS.

above quoted translates thus: I sal schrife Lard, til the, in al

my hert, I sal tel al twi wonders. On which we find the following

curious paraphrase: "Here the prophete spekes agaynes that

grucches with ese of il men: and the travel and anguis of gude

men. I sal schrife til the Lard; that is, I sal lufe the in al my

hert, hally gederant it til thi luf: and gyfand na party tharof

tyl errour, na to covatyse: ne til fleschly luf. A vile errour it

is that some men says, that God dose unrightwisly in mani thinges

in erthe: for tham thynk that tay sold noght be done. Als I hard

say noght lang sythem, of a man of religyon, and of grete fame,

that qwen he was in the see, in poynte to peryshe, he said tyl

Gode: Lard thu dos unryghtwysly if thou sofyr us to perysch here.

God myght haf answered and said, My rightwysnes reches to sofer a

beter man than thou ert to perisse here: for I hope, had he ben a

ryghtwyse man, he had noght sayd swa: for al ar unryghtwyse, that

hopes that any unrightwysnes may be in Godes wylle. Bot I sal luf

the in al thi workes; and tel al thy wonders; that is, bathe that

er sene, and that ar noght sene; visibels and invisibels."

Verse 2. I will be glad and rejoice in thee] I am glad that thou

hast heard my prayer, and showed me mercy; and I will rejoice in

thee, in having thee as my portion, dwelling and working in my


Verse 3. When mine enemies are turned back] It is a sure sign of

a nearly approaching complete conquest over sin, when, by

resistance to its influences, it begins to lose its power. That is

the time to follow on to know the Lord.

Verse 5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen] We know not what this

particularly refers to, but it is most probably to the Canaanitish

nations, which God destroyed from off the face of the earth; hence

it is said, Thou hast put out their name for ever and ever,

leolam vaed, endlessly. Here olam has its

proper signification, without end. He who contends it means only a

limited time, let him tell us where the Hivites, Perizzites,

Jebusites, &c., now dwell; and when it is likely they are to be

restored to Canaan.

Verse 6. Destructions are come to a perpetual end] Rather, "The

enemy is desolated for ever; for thou hast destroyed their cities,

and their memory is perished with them." Multitudes of the cities

of the Canaanites have perished so utterly that neither name nor

vestige remains of them.

Verse 7. But the Lord shall endure] All things shall have an end

but God and holy spirits.

Verse 8. He shall judge the world in righteousness] All the

dispensations of God's providence are founded in righteousness and


Verse 9. A refuge] misgab, a high place, where their

enemies can neither reach nor see them. He who has God for his

portion has all safety in him.

Verse 10. They that know thy name] Who have an experimental

acquaintance with thy mercy, will put their trust in thee, from

the conviction that thou never hast forsaken, and never will

forsake, them that trust in thee.

Verse 11. Declare among the people his doings.] It is the duty

of all those who have received the salvation of God, to recommend

him and his salvation to the whole circle of their acquaintance,

Christians, so called, when they meet, seldom speak about God! Why

is this? Because they have nothing to say.

Verse 12. When he maketh inquisition for blood] This not only

applies to the Canaanites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Philistines,

who shed the blood of God's people unjustly, but to all the

nations of the earth who, to enlarge their territory, increase

their wealth, or extend their commerce, have made destructive

wars. For the blood which such nations have shed, their blood

shall be shed. If man should make no inquisition for this

iniquitously spilt blood, GOD will do it, for he remembers them;

and the cry of the humbled, distressed people, driven to

distraction and ruin by such wars, is not forgotten before him.

Verse 13. Have mercy upon me, O Lord] David, having laid down

the preceding maxims, now claims his part in their truth. I also

am in trouble through the unjust dealings of my enemies; I am

brought to the gates of death; have mercy on me, and lift me up,

that, being saved from the gates of death, I may show forth thy

praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. The gates of death-an

open grave, leading to a yawning hell. The gates of the daughter

of Zion-all the ordinances of God, by which the soul is helped

forward to heaven.

Verse 15. The heathen are sunk down to the pit] See on Ps 7:15.

Verse 16. The Lord is known by the judgment] It is not every

casualty that can properly be called a judgment of God. Judgment

is his strange work; but when he executes it, his mind is plainly

to be seen. There are no natural causes to which such calamities

can be legally attributed.

The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.] There is

nothing that a wicked man does that is not against his own

interest. He is continually doing himself harm, and takes more

pains to destroy his soul than the righteous man does to get his

saved unto eternal life. This is a weighty truth; and the psalmist

adds: Higgaion; Selah. Meditate on this; mark it well. See on

Ps 3:3. Some think that it is a direction to the musicians,

something like our Presto, Largo, Vivace, Allegro, "Play briskly

and boldly; beat away; and let sense and sound accompany each


Verse 17. The wicked shall be turned into hell] lisholah,

headlong into hell, down into hell. The original is very emphatic.

All the nations that forget God.] They will not live in his

fear. There are both nations and individuals who, though they know

God, forget him, that is, are unmindful of him, do not

acknowledge him in their designs, ways, and works. These are all

to be thrust down into hell. Reader, art thou forgetful of thy

Maker, and of HIM who died for thee?

Verse 18. The needy shall not alway be forgotten] The needy, and

the poor, whose expectation is from the Lord, are never forgotten,

though sometimes their deliverance is delayed for the greater

confusion of their enemies, the greater manifestation of God's

mercy, and the greater benefit to themselves.

Verse 19. Arise, O Lord] Let this be the time in which thou wilt

deliver thy poor people under oppression and persecution.

Verse 20. Put them in fear] shithah Yehovah

morah lahem, "O Lord, place a teacher among them," that they may

know they also are accountable creatures, grow wise unto

salvation, and be prepared for a state of blessedness. Several

MSS. read morre, fear; but teacher or legislator is the

reading of all the versions except the Chaldee. Coverdale has

hit the sense, translating thus: O Lorde, set a Scholemaster over

them: and the old Psalter, Sett Lord a brynger of Law abouen tham.

That the nations may know themselves to be but men]

enosh; Let the Gentiles be taught by the preaching of thy

Gospel that they are weak and helpless, and stand in need of the

salvation which Christ has provided for them. This may be the

spirit of the petition. And this is marked by the extraordinary

note Selah; Mark well, take notice. So the term may be understood.

"This whole Psalm," says Dr. Horsley, "seems naturally to divide

into three parts. The first ten verses make the FIRST part; the

six following, the SECOND; and the remaining four the THIRD.

"The FIRST part is prophetic of the utter extermination of the

irreligious persecuting faction. The prophecy is delivered in the

form of an επινικιον, or song of victory, occasioned by the

promise given in the fifteenth verse of the tenth Psalm; and

through the whole of this song the psalmist, in the height of a

prophetic enthusiasm, speaks of the threatened vengeance as


"The SECOND part opens with an exhortation to the people of God

to praise him as the Avenger of their wrongs, and the watchful

Guardian of the helpless, and, as if the flame of the prophetic

joy which the oracular voice had lighted in the psalmist's mind

was beginning to die away, the strain is gradually lowered, and

the notes of triumph are mixed with supplication and complaint, as

if the mind of the psalmist were fluttering between things present

and to come, and made itself alternately present to his actual

condition and his future hope.

"In the THIRD part the psalmist seems quite returned from the

prophetic enthusiasm to his natural state, and closes the whole

song with explicit but cool assertions of the future destruction

of the wicked, and the deliverance of the persecuted saints,

praying for the event."


This Psalm consists of five chief parts:-

I. David's thanksgiving, Ps 9:1, 2, amplified and continued

till the tenth verse.

II. An exhortation to others to do the like, Ps 9:11, and the

reason of it, Ps 9:12.

III. A petition for himself, Ps 9:13, and the reason of it,

Ps 9:14.

IV. A remembrance of God's mercy in the overthrow of his

enemies, for which he sings a song of triumph, from Ps 9:15-19.

V. A prayer in the conclusion against the prevalence of the

heathen, Ps 9:19, 20.

I. His profession of praise is set down in the two first verses,

in which we may perceive,-

1. The matter of it, with the extent: All the marvellous works

of God.

2. That he varies the synonyms. I will praise thee; I will show

forth; I will be glad and rejoice in thee; I win sing praise to

thy name, O thou Most High! in which there is a climax.

3. The principle whence this praise flowed: 1. Not from the

lips, but from the heart. 2. From the whole heart: "I will

praise thee with my whole heart."

This he amplifies from the cause, which is double:

1. That which outwardly moved him, and gave him a just occasion

to do so; the overthrow of his enemies: "When my enemies are

turned back;" who were not overcome by strength or valour, but by

the presence and power of God.

2. They shall fall and perish at thy presence. Thou wast the

chief cause of this victory; and, therefore, deservest the thanks.

Of this the prophet makes a full narrative in the two next verses,

setting God as it were upon the bench, and doing the office of

Judge. 1. "Thou maintainest my right, and my cause." 2. "Thou

sattest on the throne judging right." 3. "Thou hast rebuked the

heathen." 4. "Thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast put out

their name for ever." In a word, Thou art a just Judge, and

defendest the innocent, and punishest their oppressors; and

therefore I will praise thee.

3. And then, upon the confidence of God's justice and power, he

exults over his enemies. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a

perpetual end. Thy power of hurting and destroying is taken away;

the fortified cities in which thou dwellest are overthrown; and

their memory and thine are perished.

4. Next, to make his assertion clearer; to the enemies' power he

opposes that of God; his kingdom to their kingdom. But the Lord,

in the administration of his kingdom, is, 1. Eternal: "The Lord

shall endure for ever." 2. His office to be Judge: "He hath

prepared his throne for judgment." 3. He is a universal Judge: "He

shall judge the whole world." 4. He is a just Judge: "He shall

judge in righteousness; he shall minister judgment to the people

in uprightness." 5. He is a merciful Judge: "For the Lord will be

a refuge for the oppressed; a refuge in times of trouble."

5. The effect of this execution of justice. His people are

encouraged: who are here described, 1. By their knowing him: "They

that know thy name." 2. By trusting in him: "Will put their trust

in thee." 3. By their seeking him: "For thou, Lord, hast not

forsaken them that seek thee."

II. An exhortation to others to praise God: "Sing praises to the

Lord." The reason of this, 1. He dwells in Zion. 2. He works

graciously there: "Sing praises to the Lord that DWELLS in Zion:

declare among the people his DOINGS." 3. That will destroy their

oppressors, and avenge their blood: "When he maketh inquisition

for blood, he remembereth them; he forgetteth not the cry of the


III. A petition for himself: "Have mercy on me, O Lord; consider

my trouble," &c.; for which he gives these reasons:-

1. That "I may show forth thy praise."

2. "ALL thy praise."

3. "In the gates of the daughter of Zion."

4. That I may do it with joyful lips.

5. Which I will do: "I WILL rejoice in thy salvation."

IV. Then he sings forth his song of triumph ever his enemies:-

1. The "heathen are sunk down in the pit they have made."

2. "In the net which they hid are their own feet taken."

3. This is the Lord's work. Though wicked men did doubt before

of his providence and justice; yet now "the Lord was known by the

judgment which he executed."

4. For "the wicked was snared in the work of his own hands.

Higgaion, Selah." Which is a thing exceedingly to be meditated

upon, and not forgotten.

5. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people

that forget God." 1. Their breath is in their nostrils, and die

they must. 2. If they repent not, they shall suffer eternal

punishment. 3. However this may be, God's goodness shall be

manifested to the innocent: "The expectation of the poor shall not

perish for ever."

V. A prayer in the conclusion against the prevalence of the

heathen, in which he shows great earnestness and faith:-

1. "Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail."

2. "Let the heathen be judged in thy sight."

3. "Put them in fear, O Lord!" Now they fear nothing, being in

their height of prosperity. They are insolent and proud; manifest

thy Divine presence to their terror.

4. For then they will know themselves to be but men-infirm and

mortal creatures; and not insult over thy people, nor glory in

their own strength and prosperity.

The original word has been translated teacher, lawgiver,

governor. Then send them, 1. A teacher, who may make them wise

unto salvation. 2. A lawgiver, who shall rule them in thy fear. 3.

A governor, that shall tame and reduce to order their fierce and

savage nature. Let the nations be converted unto thee. This will

be the noblest triumph. Let their hearts be conquered by thy

mercy. And thus the Psalm will conclude as it began, To the

Conqueror, on whose vesture and thigh is the name written, KING OF


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