Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Psalm 9 : " FAITHFUL GOD!"

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      INTRODUCTORY NOTES 

   A Psalm of David  (superscription). According to Muth-labben : this  probably refers  to the tune to which these words were set. In the Septuagint this Psalm refers to the death of  a son.
     Psalms 9 and 10  together  constitute  an acrostic Psalm[1]
  Some Hebrew manuscripts, the old  Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX  - 300 B.C)  and the Latin translation by Jerome (the Vulgate, - 400 A.D.) both treat Psalms 9–10 as one Psalm. 
      The predominant note in this Psalm  is  one of  praise in the midst of  the affliction that comes from living life in this sinful world – see  verses 2345111214.  In the midst of sorrow and pain David has learned to  know his God as a faithful God  (cf. vv. 7, 89101112 and  18.The reason why David  loved God so well, is because through his many  challenging  times he came to know  His faithful and trustworthy  God so very well.  Fact :  The more we know of God the more we can trust Him. Doubt is born of ignorance.


EXPOSITION :  

David   remembers  God’s  many deliverances from his enemies  in battle  and  he recalls  the lessons he has learned from what God has  done for him in the midst of these  difficult times.  David indicates  that  these battles  were far from over, but David affirms his trust in the Lord  who  had spread a table for him ( i.e who had sustained him) in the presence of his enemies. (Psalm 23).

Though he praised God with all his heart in this Psalm, observe  that  he mingled his praise  with prayers  of  petition for continuing  deliverance.  The battle against evil is relentless. It will never stop  as long as we live on this earth  and it will continue  until Christ finally returns  to judge his enemies. Until the very end  we will have to pray  – “…deliver us from evil.” (Matt 6:13) 
This is what  the Christian life is like. We live between  euphoria  and  anxiety.  You see  this in the structure of this Psalm. There are times  when we are carried away in praise for God’s wonderful deliverances and there are times  when we had barely escaped  the 'slippery place', where we were almost slipping , almost  loosing our foothold  (Psalm 73:2),   as our enemies  were waiting for our collapse. Praise  God  for His deliverance .It is  marvelous in our eyes. 

As a pastor I face this  experience constantly. I see myself  and I see  people delivered from one battle only to see myself and  them entering into new  temptations  in the next battle.  Just when  we think all is well,   we have  a rude awakening.  From  an  unexpected quarter a new problem arises  and  David cries , and we cry with him : “Lord save me – the waters have come to my neck.(Psalm 69:1).

Here is the big question:   Will God help? Will He deliver at this time?   Yes He will: “He has not forsaken  those who seek Him”  (v. 10);  “He does  not forget  the cry of the afflicted”   (v. 12) ; the  needy shall not always be forgotten , and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.” (v.18) .

This Psalm teaches us  that  in this life  there  are  wonderful  deliverances and victories and blessings in the name of Christ,  but there are no  guarantees  that we will  not  have to face another battle. Even those who are old  among us  will tell you that  ‘getting old is not  for sissies’.  David knew this  very well.

One of David’s  greatest  victories was the one that he had over  the Philistine  giant  Goliath. He had been prepared for that  on  earlier occasions when God had helped him.  As a young shepherd boy,  when a bear or a lion had attacked his flock of sheep, David  would overcome  them in the Name of the Lord :  “When he arose against me , I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.”  (I Sam. 17:35). He tells us:  The LORD . . . delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear” (I Sam. 17:37). That  was the truth  and David always remembered that. And he said to his king Saul  who was quaking before  this  this huge   Philistine  Goliath : “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (I Sam. 17:27) .
He told  Goliath  in no uncertain terms : “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (I Sam. 17:45-47). And then  he dispatched Goliath with a  single , tiny stone  from  a slingshot  !
Following  the death of Goliath, the  Philistine army flees. David and Israel pursued them  all the way to Gath and Ekron.(1 Sam 17: 52)  Their dead were strewn all along the way and they plundered the Philistine camp. David comments on such victories, wrought by the LORD :  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 for ever and ever. The enemy  came to an end  in everlasting   ruins; their  cities you have  rooted out ;  the very  memory of them has perished” (vv. 3-6).

With such help from God, David had developed a sure  confidence in the Lord,  and that confidence was turned to  the kind of worship  of which we  find expressed  in the opening words of this Psalm :
I will give thanks  to the  LORD, with  my whole heart; I will recount  all of your  wonderful deeds. I will exult in you;   I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (vv. 1&2). 
What is he doing here ? He is giving God all the glory. God has done it, not David. The Bible is not a book about human heroes. It is a book  about ordinary people  in the hands of a mighty God.  David knows  that very well  worships God for his mighty acts.  
He  knows that  the cause of God  is not dependent upon him. He knows that he will not reign forever.  He is going to die, and  the cause of God  will continue, because  God (unlike David) is enthroned forever.  Therefore David says:  ‘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 will trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not  forsaken those who seek you’” (vv. 7-10).

Jerusalem was built on a hill with strong walls and towers and difficult to conquer when  enemies came  to attack.  The people could hear the warning trumpets sounding from Mt Zion and they hurried into Jerusalem. The gates were closed and barred and the people were safe. So David tells his audience,   “You may feel  safe in this fortress called Jerusalem, but remember that there is one  refuge far greater than  Jerusalem :  The LORD is a  stronghold for the  oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (v. 9).
A prayer follows :  “And those who know your name put  their  trust in you, for you, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you” (v.10). He tells them, “God does not ignore the cry of the afflicted” (v.12). 
And so we learn a  great lesson  concerning our faithful God....

DAVID’s PAST EXPERIENCES ARE   HIS FUTURE CONFIDENCE  THAT HE WOULD KNOW MANY MORE DELIVERANCES FROM THE LORD.

All  this  is  based  on  vv. 9 and 10 … those who know his name will trust in him for he has never forsaken those who seek him.  These  are the deepest convictions of his heart. This is  what kept David  courageous  in  difficult times.  If you don’t understand those convictions then you will never understand David .

The last eight verses may be divided up into three sections:   prayer for  renewed help ; a  declaration and  a supplication.

(i) David’s petition  in vv. 13- 14 :  “Be  gracious  to me O LORD ! See  my  affliction from those that 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”. Here we see that  David was yet again in serious trouble.  The tense of the Psalm changes to the present tense. David was being persecuted as he was writing; “see how my enemies persecute me!” David  may have been hunted by Saul  on this occasion. David  did no lay his hand on Saul. He committed his way to the LORD  and he  trusted in God to sort Saul out . (I Sam. 24:3-13). And God did it!
  
(ii) David’s  declaration. [15] The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. [16] The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah [17] The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. [18] For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. 
Many nations were against  David and God’s people:  Moab, Edom, Egypt...  the Philistines you name them.  The truth is that  none of them could stand before our  God. They fell into the pit that they themselves had dug; they were ensnared by the work of their hands. They were trapped by their own  net.  David learned  that  Goliath was a big man, but ultimately only a man. So David confidently  declares  his  trust in the LORD .  "Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8
David  declares God’s certain  justice:  “The LORD has made Himself known ; he has executed judgment ” (v.16). 
Based upon these facts  we may know that  our nation  which aborts helpless babies, murders  helpless people , engages in sexual immorality,  fails  to punish  evil-doers effectively  cannot stand before this God ! Find your hope in this, that the Lord is known by his justice. He is the faithful God. 
So then , for  every glance you give to  the  powerful  and corrupt institutions, take ten looks at the Lord.
Remember that  the cause of justice and righteousness will not be forgotten by our God :  
David tells us  “But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish” (v.18).

(iii) David’s  supplication.  He ends in prayer as  he asks God  again :   “Arise, O LORD, let not man prevail ; let the nations be judged  before you. Put them in fear  O LORD! Let the nations know they are but men” (vv. 19- 20).
What was absent in David’s day as is common  in our own day? It’s a sense of the reality of the living God. It’s an absence of the fear of the Lord. It’s the thought that God is irrelevant, and unnecessary, and outdated.  However , the  nation  that forgets  God  will wake up in Sheol - in hell (v.17) , while the needy - those who have trusted  in God  in this life  will  not be forgotten . We are currently living in days of the  self exaltation of man. We are currently  enduring  days of an absence of the felt presence of God, and David teaches  us to  continue to  cry out to the Lord  to make himself known, to come and convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment.

We see this terrible pride in man and in his achievements all around us!  We have been told now for many years  that the origin of this world and of man is  to be found in  random selection.   We have  been made to believe that the doctrine of evolution is scientific fact , and we have believed Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, David Attenborough  and the likes  - formidable  evangelists of  evolutionism.
It is time to pray again :  “Arise O LORD! Let not man prevail...!  That was David’s confident  prayer at the  end of this  Psalm.  It was based on His knowledge and experience of the faithful God . 
Let God arise and scatter his enemies - and He will !

Congregation pray  for   your land and for God's cause ! He will surely deliver  us. 



[1] This is the first of the ACROSTIC or ALPHABETICAL psalms, of which there are nine (Psalm 9 & 10253437111112119145). Psalm 119 is the most remarkable specimen of this acrostic style of composition. Prov. 31, and Lam. 1234 present the same acrostic character.

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