The Psalms Book 1: 9-15

Psalm 9‑15  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Here also two psalms (9-10) open a new series which follows them, as Psa. 1 ii. prepared the way for those which last occupied us. It is not here the great principles of man righteous and the Messiah, with the experience of sorrow and trial to which this leads, and the heart's expression to God which it forms, and the greater glory that results at last (as in Psa. 3-8). The new prefatory pair treats of the actual circumstances which the remnant are called to face (Psa. 9-10), which plunges us in the crisis of the latter day, leading to the experience suitable to them and formed by the Spirit of Christ in the righteous accordingly (Psa. 11-15). This may serve to show what divine order reigns in that which might seem to a superficial reader the least consecutive or mutually connected book of all scripture, and how much more light from God is given than those look for who are verbally familiar with them every day.
Psa. 9
The title is “To the chief musician Muthlabben (or, death to the son), a psalm of David”. This singular term is supposed to be the name of an air.
It is a striking distinction from the New Testament and its links of truth, that the glorification of the rejected Messiah, which is there followed by the formation of the church, His body, here instantly brings in the troubles at the end of the age which lead to His setting up His throne in Zion. Jehovah is the covenant name for Israel, Most High that indicative of the Kingdom in power when heaven and earth are displayed as His. Christ identifies Himself with the righteous remnant to make His cause and His right theirs (ver. 4). Whatever the mischief from the enemy Jehovah sits forever. And meanwhile He is a refuge for an oppressed one in times of trouble. But Zion is His eventual dwelling, and judgment (not the gospel) settles all questions.
“ I will praise Jehovah with my whole heart; I will recount all Thy marvelous works, I will be glad and rejoice in Thee; I will sing forth Thy name, O Most High. When mine enemies turned back, they stumbled and perished from before Thee. For Thou hast maintained my cause and my right; Thou satest on the throne a judge of righteousness. Thou hast rebuked the Gentiles, Thou hast destroyed the wicked, their name hast Thou blotted out forever. O enemy, the desolations are completed forever, and thou hast destroyed cities: the remembrance of them hath perished. But Jehovah sitteth forever; He hath established His throne for judgment. And He it is will judge the world in righteousness, He will judge nations in equity. And Jehovah will be a refuge to the oppressed one, a refuge in times of distress. And they that know Thy name will trust in Thee; for Thou hast not forsaken those that seek Thee, O Jehovah. Sing praises to Jehovah Who dwelleth in Zion; tell among the peoples His doings. For He that inquireth after blood remembereth them; He hath not forgotten the cry of the afflicted. Be merciful to us, O Jehovah, look on mine affliction from those that hate me, lifting me up from the gates of death, that I may declare all Thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Thy salvation. The Gentiles are sunk into the pit they made; in the very net they laid is their foot taken. Jehovah is known; judgment He hath executed. In the work of his own hands the wicked one is ensnared. Higgayon (or Meditation), Selah. The wicked shall be turned into Sheol, all the Gentiles that forget God. For the poor one shall not be forgotten forever, nor the hope of the humble perish everlastingly. Arise, O Jehovah, let not man be strong; let Gentiles be judged before Thy face. Put fear into them, O Jehovah: the Gentiles shall know that they are but men. Selah” (1-21).
Any one acquainted with O. T. prophecy will recognize the allusions to its predictions, especially when the rod of Messiah's strength shall be sent by Jehovah out of Zion, and He strikes through kings in the day of His wrath and judges among the Gentiles. What a change from His sitting at God's right hand waiting to crush His foes, and meanwhile gathering His friends and joint-heirs!
Psa. 10
This untitled psalm, dependent on the preceding one, of which it is the supplement, is occupied with the wicked internal enemy that hates and afflicts the righteous Jew. As Psa. 9 looks at the Gentile oppressors generally as the object of Jehovah's judgment at the close, so this details the enemy within, though it binds up with the expected judgment the perishing of the Gentiles from His land (ver. 16) when Jehovah is King forever.
“ Wherefore, O Jehovah, standest Thou afar off? Hidest Thou Thyself in times of distress? In the pride of the wicked he doth hotly pursue the afflicted. They are taken in the very devices they devised. For the wicked boasteth of his soul's desire; and the covetous he blesseth; he despiseth Jehovah. According to the pride of his countenance, the wicked seeketh not: all his thoughts [are], There is no God. His ways are firm in every season; Thy judgments [are] a height away from him; all, his adversaries—he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved; to generation and generation I shall be in no adversity. Of cursing his mouth is full, and of deceit, and violence: under his tongue is mischief and iniquity. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages; in the secret places he slayeth the innocent; his eyes lurk for the wretched. He lieth in wait in the covert like a lion in his den; he lieth in wait to catch the afflicted; he catcheth the afflicted when he draweth him into his net. He croucheth, he boweth down, and the wretched hath fallen by his strong ones. He saith in his heart, God hath forgotten, He hath hidden His face, He will not see forever. Arise, O Jehovah; O God, lift up Thy hand; forget not the afflicted. Wherefore hath the wicked one despised God? He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require. Thou hast seen; Thou beholdest mischief and spite to requite it with Thy hand; the wretched committeth himself unto Thee: of the orphans Thou hast been the helper. Break Thou the arm of the wicked one, and for the evil, seek out his wickedness [till] Thou find none. Jehovah is King forever and ever: the Gentiles have perished from His land. The desire of the afflicted Thou hast heard, O Jehovah; Thou strengthenest their heart, Thou causest Thine ear to hearken, to judge the orphan and the oppressed, that man from the earth may be terrible no more” (1-18). When the wicked one rises up from character to a person, it will be realized in the antichrist of the last days and in the midst of the Jews as here. As the Lord is from heaven, so he is emphatically from the earth, frail man but energized by Satan. The Psalm answers much to the cry of the elect, according to the parable of the importunate widow, whom God at length avenges.
Psa. 11
The psalms that follow to the fifteenth give the experience proper to such a crisis Gentile and Jewish, and have the form of results.
The first of them is inscribed “to the chief musician, by David,” and expresses the resolve not to flee. To the righteous it was a question of absolute trust in Jehovah whatever the ungodly might do or say. If every recourse failed, it was but the moment for Him to act for Himself and His own.
“ In Jehovah put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee to your mountain [as] a bird? For lo! the wicked bend the bow, they have fixed their arrow on the string to shoot in darkness at the upright in heart. If the foundations are broken down, what can the righteous do?1 Jehovah [is] in the temple of His holiness, Jehovah—His throne [is] in the heavens. His eyes behold, His eyelids prove the sons of men. Jehovah proveth the righteous; but the wicked and him that loveth violence His soul hateth. Upon the wicked He will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind, the portion of their cup. For Jehovah [is] righteous; He loveth righteousness; His face beholdeth the upright” (1-7).
There is no wavering. Not only Jehovah abides immutably, but faith cleaves to His house; and whatever come of His representative on earth His throne is in heaven; and He governs on earth in the face of appearances, though His public Kingdom be not yet come. Hence in due time is condign punishment for the wicked, while the saint knows all the while that He is righteous, loves righteousness, and regards the upright.
Psa. 12
This is “to the chief musician on the octave, a psalm of David”, as in Psa. 6. It is the plaintive prayer of the gracious man in presence of growing lawlessness; then comes in the value of Jehovah's words before Himself arises to judge. Wickedness increases where righteousness was looked for.
“ Save, O Jehovah, for the godly hath ceased, for the faithful have failed from among the sons of men. They speak falsehood, every one with his neighbor: a slippery lip with a double heart do they speak. Jehovah will cut off all slippery lips, a tongue that speaketh great things, who have said, With our tongues will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord to us? Because of the oppression of the afflicted, because of the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith Jehovah. I will set in safety him at whom they puff.2 The words of Jehovah [are] pure words, silver refined in a crucible of earth, purified seven times. Thou, Jehovah, wilt keep them, Thou wilt preserve them from this generation forever. The wicked walk around when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” (1-8). Such was the dreary state when Christ Himself was on earth, Who speaks of “this generation “: clearly a moral estimate which still abides and will be found more and more till judgment overtake. It has nothing to do with a human life or chronology, as the context here unequivocally proves. Compare Psa. 14:55There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. (Psalm 14:5).
Psa. 13
Here things are no better, but the heart is more urgent, and “How long” is the key-note. It also is inscribed “To the chief musician, a psalm of David". If deferred hope makes the righteous sick, confidence grows up to joy and gladness.
“ How long, O Jehovah? wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I lay up counsels in my soul, grief in my soul daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Behold, answer me, O Jehovah my God, lighten mine eyes lest I sleep the [sleep of] death; lest the enemy say, I have overcome him, [and] mine adversaries exult when I am moved. But I in Thy mercy, have trusted; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation? I will sing unto Jehovah, for He hath dealt well with me” (1-5).
It is the patience of the saints, waiting for the Kingdom in power and praise.
Psa. 14
This raises the question what Jehovah has to say of the people on whom His name is called. The psalm is inscribed “To the chief musician by David". It is really a dirge.
“ The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They have corruptly acted; they have done abominably [in] work; [there is] none doing good. Jehovah hath looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there were [one] acting wisely, seeking God. They have all turned aside, they have together been corrupted; [there is] none doing good, not even one. Have they not known, all the workers of iniquity, eating My people [as] they eat bread? They call not upon Jehovah. There were they in great fear; for God [is] in the generation of the righteous. Ye put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, because Jehovah [is] his refuge. Who shall give out of Zion the salvation of Israel? When Jehovah bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, Israel shall be glad” (1-7).
It is for the substance the same as Psa. 53 with differences which strikingly illustrate the two books in which they respectively occur. Yet in the due place it will be shown that the apostle in Rom. 3 cites the later of the two, not the earlier before us. But they both speak of those “under the law”, that is of the Jews. The heathen were self-evidently wicked. It might have been argued that the Jews were not, as latterly they eschewed idols. But no, exclaims the apostle, What the law saith, it saith to those who are under the law, and quotes from the psalm what He says to and of His ancient people. It is thus emphatic and overwhelming. I doubt not that prophetically it looks on to the age when antichrist and his followers are in question. But the truth is that the first coming of Christ brought out morally what will be manifest at His second. This is man at his best estate without Christ and denying God; and the Judge on earth pronounced on him. He is lost; not merely man carried away after every vain folly, but man under priesthood, law, sacrifice, temple, and every other religious privilege conceivable. Remnant there is, but they renounce man and rest on Christ from God, as all saints since man fell. But it is salvation out of Zion they look for, and this to gladden Israel: not the indiscriminate mercy of God (His righteousness withal in the gospel) to any poor sinner as we know now.
Psa. 15
Here we have the moral qualities of the remnant, the spared ones, when righteousness governs with Zion as the earthly center. It is simply entitled “a psalm of David”.
“O Jehovah, who shall sojourn in Thy tent? Who shall dwell in the hill of Thy holiness? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart; he slandereth not with his tongue nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against him that is near him; in his eyes a reprobate [is] despised and the fearers of Jehovah he will honor; he hath sworn to his hurt, he will not change; he hath not put his money to usury, and a bribe against the innocent he hath not taken. He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (1-5).
These are “the wise” in contrast with “the fool” of the preceding psalm. It is not the sinner converted to God by grace, as we may see even in Psa. 25; 32 It is the character that grace forms in the remnant for the Kingdom, described positively (2) and negatively (3), and this again (4, 5). The heavenly life which should be in the Christian (and this not dissociated from earthly duties) is not here before us; but the relative responsibilities which a Jew (or any other) would surely neglect without the true fear of God; and the more in a religion of outward observances.