First Off…read Psalm 9!
Wow…there is a lot here and I’ve limited myself to 750 words? Doh!
First off this psalm is most definitely a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. But it’s very specific in its praise and thanksgiving in that the psalmist is praising God for his VINDICATION. For his being proved “right” in the sight of those who oppress him, those who desire to harm him, those who desire to ruin him. He has not only been proven innocent but to “vindicate” means also to set free from. So all those words, all that harm that their enemy has wanted to place upon him…God does something about. But when? When does vindication happen?
As we read through this psalm we begin to see that part of this vindication is in God’s “refugeness” (that’s not a word…but it works in my head). Numerous times in this psalm we see this image of what it looks like to have God as your refuge. God, as he is enthroned on high acts as a refuge by rebuking and destroying enemies (vs 3-5); He is a “refuge for the oppressed” (vs7); he’s a “stronghold” (vs 9); he lifts us from the gates of death (vs 13); and there is “salvation” in Him (vs 14). All of these images speak of God’s “refugeness”. God, in his majesty, in his holiness, is our safety and security…our stronghold and fortress in ALL times. He is our place to flee for protection as well as security.
But let’s be clear here…whatever “vindication” we THINK we need…we really do not deserve. This is the whole point of the Gospel is it not? This is our whole understanding of “grace” is it not? You, me…your parents, your neighbors, your brother and sister (you probably already know that one already) – we are not “innocent” by any definition of the word – and this is understood in the last two verses of our psalm when she speaks of “mortals.”
While the psalmist definitely cries out for God to not let their FOES triumph – this must be widened with the understanding that God must not let ANY MORTAL triumph. Again, we must be clear here…allowing mortals to “triumph” and not be judged by God would be detrimental to the human race (this is where we come to understand that none of us are innocent). You and me we are vindictive, spiteful, and harmful people to not only ourselves but each other…and left to our own devices we would consistently harm each other, overtake each other, uproot each other, ensnare each other…and eventually…perish at either the hands of each other or ourselves (which is what the psalmist is asking God to rescue him/her from).
But God is our fortress – is he not? God is our refuge – is he not? He doesn’t let our foot slip (Psalm 121:3) nor will he allow you to stumble. He hears the cries of the afflicted, the oppressed, the hurting and he responds by securely wrapping us up and being our refuge.
The psalmist closes by asking God to judge the nations – and by the grace of God, He has. It is BECAUSE of how we harm and hurt others and neglect those in which we are to care for that we have been found guilty and sentenced to death. But it is BECAUSE of who God is (the one and only judge) that in our guilt God has stepped in and taken our sentence of death UPON HIMSELF. Why? Because he is our fortress and stronghold. It is in Him, and he alone, that we find refuge. He does not forget the needy and the afflicted – and he will not let them perish.
Psalm 9 is a psalm that reminds us to simply give thanks to God for what he has done – from the little to the large things and then all that space in-between. But I think it needs to stand as a reminder for us that throughout life we will have challenges – that even a life fully given to the Divine doesn’t mean we still do not need times of refuge. The biggest mistake we can make as Christians is to think that life is now one grandiose happy day of us frolicking in lush fields filled with fluttering butterflies and bluebirds chirping on our shoulders. Life is rough…some of we bring upon ourselves and some of it brought upon by others. But we give glory to God, our Fortress, in whom we find rest. Both now and for eternity.