Summary of Psalm 9:
Psalm 9 is a mix of praise and petition; celebration and setback. David is praising God (verses 1-2) for His power over his enemies (verses 3-8) and continual presence with David during the battle (verses 9-12). In the midst of David’s praise he is either reminded of old battle injuries or experiences a set back in battle (verses 13-14). Rather than giving into despair or questioning God’s love/power, David affirms the destiny of the wicked (verses 14-17). In conclusion David affirms God’s provision of hope for the downcast (verse 18) and petitions God for victory over this persistent enemy (verses 19-20).
Theme: God is more powerful than our enemies and concerned for our struggles. We can and should turn to God in the midst of our struggles. Even while we praise God and pray to God we may still suffer. This should not stop our desire to praise the God whose character never changes.
The Journey of Suffering Begins with Praise (v. 1-2)
David is giving us words for our suffering in Psalm 9. He is teaching us how to respond to hardship. He does this by beginning with words of praise. The context of the Psalm is battle, but the focus is the character and activity of God. One of the most debilitating aspects of suffering is that our focus tends to shrink to the size of our circumstances. The same thing can happen in our successes with the result of pride instead of despair. However, David gives us words that would protect us from both.
APPLICATION: When you are suffering begin your times of Bible study and prayer focusing on God’s character more than looking for a particular answer. Once your soul is at rest in who God is, then seek God’s answers with clearer eyes and mind.
RESOURCE: Article “Learning God in the Midst of Life’s Struggles” a month long devotion in the attributes of God.
Writing Your Own Psalm 9
The Psalms are unique in that they seek to give us words to express our experiences more than they seek to give us answers to our struggles. The Psalms teach us to think of life with God at the center more than they teach us what to do in God’s world. Their function is more worship than instruction, but with the intent that worship would give life to instruction.
With that in mind, I invite you to write your own experience into the outline of Psalm 9. The goal of this exercise is to think as God would have you think, so that you experience the joy of God as you live as God would have you live. You do not have to be a great poet. You can write a letter using the outline below if that is easier for you.
- Verses 1-2: Write of God’s faithfulness. Give examples of God’s past faithfulness. What names or attributes of God are exemplified in these examples?
- Verses 3-6: Give specific, current examples of God’s activity in the midst of the struggle you are currently facing.
- Verses 7-12: Who is God? What is the reason for your hope? What is God’s position or role as it relates to the struggle before you? What images of God are most relevant to this struggle?
- Verses 13-14: How are you hurting or struggling? What form does it take? How does it affect you? What emotions does it generate?
- Verses 15-18: What is the end result for those people or things that afflict you? How is their temporary success ultimately empty?
- Verses 19-20: Call on God to arise and intervene. Cry out to the One who is Faithful and True. Write with passion, conviction and hope.