April 18 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 9)

Submitted by John C. from Gracepoint Berkeley

Psalm 9

  • What does this Psalm teach me about God? 

Immediately what stood out for me from this Psalm is the theme of God’s judgment and justice.

  • v4 …judging righteously
  • v7 …established his throne for judgment
  • v8 …judge the world in righteousness
  • v8…govern the people’s with justice
  • v16 …the Lord is know by his justice
  • v19…judged in your presence

But more than just a declaration or acknowledge of the truth of God’s judgment or that he rules with justice, the Psalmist begins by pouring out praises and glory to him for being “righteous” and “fair.”  He sings praises and is glad and rejoices for how he judges in favor of the “needy,” how he doesn’t ignore the “afflicted,” and how he is a refuge for the “oppressed.”  The overall emotion expressed is one of utmost gratitude for who God is. Being afflicted, oppressed, and needy was certainly the state the Psalmist, who is King David, was in over and over again. But also what he’s experienced, is over and over again during those difficult moments of when he was being persecuted by his “enemies,” God had mercy on him and lifted him up from the “gates of death” as written in v13.  He knows that all the times he’s been delivered, or spared by his enemies, it is no credit to him or anything a human being could have done, but it was all because of the mercy of God who is a righteous, fair, and just judge.

  • What exhortations, lessons, or warnings do I need to heed?

The praise that God is a righteous judge, who judges fairly, who judges justly is good news only to those who are afflicted, oppressed, or needy. Perhaps the lack of joy in my life at times comes to show just where my heart is, whether or not I am in that state of being afflicted, oppressed, or needy. These heartfelt praises that King David lifted up to God, declaring aloud and singing praises to Him was something that came to him because he was clearly in a state of much suffering and affliction. I know that, externally, I may not be in this state as King David was, being chased after my life by my enemies, trying to avoid death each time I turn around the corner, but internally, in my sinful state, such sense of desperation and cry out to God for mercy and justice was not unfamiliar to me. In my battle against my fleshly desires, I am constantly waging war against my body as is stated in Romans 7 by Apostle Paul when he said, “I do not do what I want to do, but what I hate I do.”  Just 2 weeks ago, I was able to spend some time reflecting on the Passion week, going through the Passion Experience and personally identifying once myself once again as the characters in the Bible who crucified Jesus. I was able to see myself as the proud, self-righteous Pharisees who valued their status, their position far more than what is right. I was able to identify myself as Peter who ultimately pursued his comfort and followed just enough to the point where the cost wasn’t too high for him, I can identify myself as Pilate who ultimately did not desire to know the truth but ultimately was a slave to the opinions of people. In recognizing myself as these characters, I got to see just how depraved my heart really is, how I was the one who ultimately put Jesus on the cross and felt an intense sense of affliction, oppression, and neediness towards God, just as the Psalmist states. But thanks be to God, who “reigns forever,” for what he has done for me on the cross through Jesus Christ, that he has freed me from the power of sin, bondage and enslaved life I was living in my sinful state. I have experienced being delivered from this sinful state of mine over and over again, and for that I give praises to God and rejoice in Him.

  • What truths can I affirm, or what promises can I claim from this Psalm?  

The truth that I can affirm and the promise that I can claim is stated well in v18, “But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.” Because of this promise, no matter what storms I may be experiencing through life, whether it be externally like King David who felt constantly being persecuted by his enemies, or whether it be through the internal burdens of my own sinful state, God will not forget those who seek him earnestly out of desperation and I can continue to hope–hope affirmed by the assurance that comes through the cross and what Jesus has done for me there. It’s ultimately because of this hope that I can continue on through my struggles against my own sins. As I have been entrusted with the ministry of college students to be their shepherd guiding them spiritual through God’s word, being a compassionate leader just like Jesus was to those he ministered to, I recognize just how short I fall. Even in the midst of my greatest acts of kindness and care for my students, I see I lack in compassion. It’s been a struggle to see my own selfish heart, to see how often I desire more comfort and my own agenda, even though I know that there is a spiritual war out there, that I can’t let down my guards. This truth of who I am and just the many failures of continuing to struggle and claim victory over this, has been difficult and it can get discouraging. However, once again I am reminded that God will not forget those who are desperate, those who are in need. Even if at points it seems hopeless, and that I will never change, knowing full well what Jesus has done for me on the cross, I do not lose hope.

  • Who can I intercede for based on these words?

I can intercede for those who are going through some personal struggles, feeling discouraged, defeated, and perhaps even cynical thinking that there’s no point in struggling if they are going to fail again. I can intercede for my students who are experiencing this especially as many of them are new Christians and are beginning to experience a lot of the costs of discipleship and really seeing how hard it is to live out their Christian life. I can intercede for them with the truth God knows their struggles, who does not ignore those who are afflicted, who will be a stronghold for those in trouble.  This is the righteous and just God who we are serving and that “the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” Also from this Psalm, I can intercede for those who are feeling spiritually dry, going through the motions and lacking in joy, gratitude, praise, and worship for God. Those who cannot share the same kind of emotions or sentiments as the Psalmist shared of one of utmost praise and worship to God for who he is. To those I can intercede that their joy may be restored in their salvation. That their joy not be solely based on their momentary feelings, but rather through recalling and remembering how God has delivered them in the past, but ultimately through the cross, what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. In remembering my own salvation, in reflecting and recognizing just the sinful person I am, that in my sins I am afflicted, oppressed, and needy, who God is, and what he has done can lead to none other than praise and worship for him.

  • What verse stands out that I want to remember or meditate on further?

The verse that stuck out for me was verse 20 of the NLT version. It states “20 Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human.” This verse struck me because in my spiritual walk I’ve realized just how much I lack in proper fear towards God because I can often forget that I am “merely human.”  Merely human to me meant that my life is really like the grass and the flowers as declared in Isaiah 40 or like a mist as stated in James 4, ultimately really not much. I am this mere human and when I think about this and think about who God is, I am struck with fear, fear of who I am before a Holy, awesome and amazing God. It really puts things into perspective, and puts me in my proper place, makes me have the proper attitude before God, and once again be amazed of what God has done for me on the cross. The past couple of weeks, the bible studies in 2 Corinthians, the message series on Sundays and the daily devotions in Luke have been over this area of God’s judgment, and who I am, a mere human, a sinner who rebelled against God and his proper claim and authority over my life, and right and just response that God ought to have had on my life, which is death. But I marvel at his grace and mercy in my life, that through the cross I have been redeemed, atoned for, that although I am “merely human” that I have been restored into a greater position of being adopted as His son, and that one day I will be able to enjoy eternity in His presence.

PRAYER

1 I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell of all your wonders.

2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Heavenly Father,

I give you all praise and glory. When I just think of all the wonders of what you have done for me saving me from the pathway of destruction that I was going down, I cannot help but to praise you. Lord, for this reason, I am compelled to share and tell of this to the world, and live a life wholly devoted to you.

3 My enemies turn back;

they stumble and perish before you.

4 For you have upheld my right and my cause;

you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.

You are the righteous judge, you are just and fair, and if you were to treat me as my sins deserve, I would deserve death. However, through Christ and his interceding on my behalf, my right and my cause has been upheld by you.

5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;

you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

6 Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy,

you have uprooted their cities;

even the memory of them has perished.

7 The Lord reigns forever;

he has established his throne for judgment.

8 He will judge the world in righteousness;

he will govern the peoples with justice.

9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name will trust in you,

for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

You indeed, reign forever. Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You are indeed my refuge, you are my shield, my protector, my stronghold in times of trouble. When I seek you, you are there. But even times when I try to run away from you, you never let me go.

11 Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion;

proclaim among the nations what he has done.

I praise you, I give glory to you, I worship you with all my heart.

12 For he who avenges blood remembers;

he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

13 O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!

Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

14 that I may declare your praises

in the gates of the Daughter of Zion

and there rejoice in your salvation.

You have shown mercy in me. Out of your mercy and grace, you have given me the free gift of salvation that I do not deserve. I will declare your praises and rejoice of this.

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;

their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

16 The Lord is known by his justice;

the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

Higgaion. Selah

17 The wicked return to the grave,

all the nations that forget God.

18 But the needy will not always be forgotten,

nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

19 Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph;

let the nations be judged in your presence.

20 Strike them with terror, O Lord;

let the nations know they are but men.

Selah

You are the righteous and fair judge. There will be a day when I will have to stand before you to give an account. There will be a day when all the evil, wickedness will be revealed. To know that I am merely human, that I am but man, strikes me with terror, to know who I am before a Holy and awesome God. Father God, but wonder of wonders, you have brought the punishment that is properly due to me upon your one and only son Jesus, to take away my sins, as stated in Psalm 103 as far as the east is from the west you have removed them. What can I do but give you all the praise and glory. What I can do but rejoice in you. Thank you Lord, for your love. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen. 


Submitted by Florence T. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 9 (NIV84)

1     I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell of all your wonders.

2     I will be glad and rejoice in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

3     My enemies turn back;

they stumble and perish before you.

4     For you have upheld my right and my cause;

you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.

V1-2

Dear God, it is only right of me to praise you with all my heart because I am nothing but a broken, wretched sinner whom you rescued from the pit of self-destruction and aimless existence during my college days.  And though I am unworthy, you called me Your beloved daughter worth loving to the point of sacrificing Your one and only precious Son on the cross to pay for my sins so that I can have a second chance in life.  I do not deserve Your immense love and at times I can hardly wrap my mind around it.  My heart is filled with a sense of awe and gratitude because my life really didn’t have to turn out the way it did.  And my only response is to praise you for being my loving heavenly Father who shepherds me to the green pasture and safety.  Lord, I pray that I will never get over what you have done in my life and everyday choose to praise you with all my heart, choose to tell of your wonderful, redemptive work in my life, choose to be glad and rejoice in you for my salvation.  Life throws at me situations that bring anxiety and fear, my own sins of lovelessness, laziness, and cowardice can be so deflating at times, but Lord I pray, that in the midst of these troubles I will remember still the greater reality that You are truly worthy to be praised with all my heart, and as a result I will choose to praise you.

5     You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;

you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

6     Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy,

you have uprooted their cities;

even the memory of them has perished.

7     The Lord reigns forever;

he has established his throne for judgment.

8     He will judge the world in righteousness;

he will govern the peoples with justice.

V3-8

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being the Righteous Judge who judges the wicked and provides refuge for the oppressed.  Lord, each time I hear in the news about the atrocities, injustice, oppression and senseless violence inflicted upon the innocent and powerless, I am filled with a sense of anger, thrown into bouts of confusion wondering, “Why is the world so messed-up?”  Surely I would have become a hopeless cynic were not for this very fact that my God is NOT one who is blind, apathetic or powerless, rather I serve a God who sees and identifies with the plight of oppressed and afflicted, because they are Your children and every sin done unto them is sin against You.  The wicked will not gloat forever because they cannot stand before You.  As I reflect deeper however, I cannot help but recognize within me the same kind of pride, greed, selfishness, envy, anger and recklessness that drove people to kill and wreck others lives, that same excuse of “but I had no choice” echoes in my sentiments as well.  Indeed, as Solzhenitsyn says, “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts,” I am very much guilty as well.  V8 says, “He will judge the world with justice and rule the nation with fairness,” I know I don’t stand a chance of walking away innocent.  So Father, I am so thankful that somehow I received the gospel and that though I deserve condemnation and judgment, I have instead received a pardon because Jesus’ blood covers me.

9     The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.

10    Those who know your name will trust in you,

for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

11    Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion;

proclaim among the nations what he has done.

12    For he who avenges blood remembers;

he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

13    O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!

Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

14    that I may declare your praises

in the gates of the Daughter of Zion

and there rejoice in your salvation.

V9-14

Dear Heavenly Father, indeed “save me so I can praise you.”  Save me from myself, my fears and anxiety about the future, my irrational worries about my child and his safety, my insecure self that constantly seeks affirmation from others and my stubborn pride that refuses to admit wrong and apologize even at the expense of hurting those I love and care deeply about.  Please save me also from voices that accuse me of being a fraud of a person — infantile, lazy, cowardly and unfit for ministry.  These voices tell me that I need to hide and keep things to myself lest others find out what I am really like inside and reject me in disgust.  Father, during times when my thoughts are going crazy, have mercy on me as I desperately cling to Your promise that You are my Shelter and Refuge, where I am safe from Satan’s accusations that ultimately tells me that I am no good for God or others in my life.  God, every day help me to move beyond my petty self and be fully engaged in singing praises to the Lord who reigns forever and telling the world about Your unforgettable deeds!

15    The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;

their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

16    The Lord is known by his justice;

the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.   Higgaion. Selah

17    The wicked return to the grave,

all the nations that forget God.

18    But the needy will not always be forgotten,

nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

19    Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph;

let the nations be judged in your presence.

20    Strike them with terror, O Lord;

let the nations know they are but men.           Selah

V15-20

Dear Heavenly Father, it is so true that evil will not and cannot triumph in the end.  The wicked will fall into the pits they have dug, be caught by their own traps and ensnared by the work of their hands because there will come a time when You will come to bring judgment, and the fate of those who have ignored and defied You will be terrifying.  In light of this, Father I want to intercede for those around me who ignore Your beckoning.  Father help them to see the folly of sin and those sins will ultimately destroy them.  Father, please open the eyes and touch the hearts of those who have taken up a position of resignation and self-pity because life had not been easy for them, help them to see that You have not neglected or ignored them, and that they can turn to you even now.  Lord, as for me, I thank you for giving me this privilege to fight on Your side and engage in this work of reconciling people to You.  Please help me to stand firm to the end, not despair or feel defeated with Satan’s schemes and temptations seem to gain the upper hand causing people to grow cold toward You or lose interest to seek You, because the ultimately the battle has been won.

Submitted by Jin K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

What does this Psalm teach me about God?

This psalm teaches me that God is my great protector. God is not someone who is out to get me but it says that he upholds my cause. So much is God my protector that he can stand up to nations on my behalf, if need be. Yet in the midst of singing praises to God, there is also the somber recognition of who God is: the ultimate judge. And God is someone who will assert himself as one who cannot be ignored but to be taken seriously as he takes people seriously.

What exhortations, lessons, or warnings do I need to heed?

The bible is indeed full of many examples of the grace of God and the mercy of God. It also provides examples such as this psalm which shows the reality of God being the ultimate judge. The lesson I need to heed is that I cannot treat God like a senile old grandfather who is put away in some corner and lets the little children like me to do whatever I want. God has opinions, he feels emotions like hurt and betrayal and even anger, and in the end, he has to be true to reality, which is that his justice will be carried out. Though I know this intellectually in my head, what needs to get marinated deeper in my heart is that there needs to be greater fear in my heart towards God. Not one of utter terror but one that holds a balanced biblical picture of God and based on that reality, to not take God for granted and to have that perspective only deepen my appreciation for him.

 What truths can I affirm, or what promises can I claim from this Psalm?  

One truth I can affirm is that God is on my side indeed. He upholds my strength and my cause. He will look out for me. He is not someone who is there to frustrate my every endeavor nor to poke holes in every attempt I make, wondering aloud why my motive wasn’t in the right place, why I couldn’t exert my efforts a little more, etc. God is there to help me fight any opposing forces that stand in the way of my relationship with him and carrying out his purpose and work on earth. So I can confidently approach him in prayer and in obedience.

Who can I intercede for based on these words?

Some people who are close to my heart are going through some difficult struggles right now. I can pray that they may be able to see that whatever they may be going through right now, that they may see God is for them and not to deprive them of anything, and that this truth may bring them encouragement.

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