Friday, March 11, 2011

Psalm 9 – Rise Up, O LORD!

“Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.

Declare his deeds among the peoples.

For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;

he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.”

~Psalm 9:11-12 (NRSV).

Nothing is hidden from an all-seeing and all-knowing God, and for the psalmist, whilst there’s faith to wait and bring forth humble lament, there’s also some expectation that God will finally act—the Divine nature has to.

This psalm—like so many of the laments—vacillates between calling the Lord to the harsh wickedness of the enemy and calling for him to reassure the forlorn afflicted, including the psalmist (David) himself (for instance, verse 13). Their justice is yet coming.

These psalms are so important. It’s the constant spiritual reality for Christians, and indeed for many other pious ones of other religions also, that worldly influence (the “nations”) castigates the things of God.

We will know indifference, rejection and arrogance for what we proclaim is important. It seems we can at times wait all our lives for the Lord to “rise up” (verse 19) to defend us, but also to defend the Divine name.

Trusting in God’s Deeds of Old

The first six verses of the psalm recount by praise the past deeds of God to judge the nations in their wickedness, whilst establishing and restoring balance within the realm of humanity.

The psalmist gives thanks with their “whole heart” (verse 1) because of the inevitable reliability of God to manifest justice. This is in context of recall made of Israel’s redemptive history.

As we read the Bible, we too can note that we serve a redemptive God—a Lord who’s engaged in redemption as much now as then.

When Faith’s Tested

It is one thing to place our faith in God—sometimes venturing into doubt—only to see what we felt was possibly not going to happen. Faith is peculiar this way. We hold to our views, but sometimes against our rationality of things. It’s a faith beyond our understanding, as God’s peace is often beyond understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

This faith-held doubt is implied in verses 13-16. It’s this hesitancy that builds faith, for how can faith grow if it’s not tested?

Trusting Divine Nature

One thing implicit in the Psalms is the vote of confidence in God to deliver people for righteousness’ sake, for it is the Divine nature. This is spelt out in verses 7-12.

The Divine nature is to judge (verses 7-8) and we Christians accept that as a reality here and now, and to come. The enemy doesn’t give such importance of cognisance to this, however, and they flail the possibilities of consequences as if there were no God. What a folly!

Waiting on Justice

Many of us wait entire lifetimes for the justice our faith holds out for.

As we trust what the Bible tells us, we can identify with the faith of the psalmist, for what is certain is not yet real.

Those people and ‘nations’ against the Lord of Glory will get their comeuppance; our role is to wait and obey the Lord in the meantime.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Post Script: It’s interesting that scholars seem to be split over the form criticism of this psalm. Some think it’s a thanksgiving psalm of the individual; others think it’s a lament of the individual. I’ve taken the latter approach.

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