Theme: Praise for Past Deliverance: Justice and Refuge
In this week’s lessons we look at some reasons why David praises the Lord, and see that even his prayer requests are offered with the end result of praise in mind.
Scripture: Psalm 9:1-20
Yesterday we looked at the first thing for which David praises the Lord in this psalm. Today we consider the other two.
2. The working out of justice and right judgment on earth (vv. 7, 8). As the chief executive officer and judge of Israel, David was responsible for seeing that justice was done in civil matters. Therefore, it is appropriate that he should praise God for having established the divine throne for judgment and for ruling justly.3
This is something Christians in our day should be increasingly concerned about. Do you remember Micah 6:8? It asks, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I am impressed with each of those requirements, but particularly the first, which requires us to act justly. It means to act justly ourselves and to be concerned with justice elsewhere. Above all, it means to be concerned with justice for other persons. All too often Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, seem to be concerned with justice only for themselves or their pet causes. And the world fears that if evangelicals should gain political power, here or elsewhere, the rest of the population would suffer at the Christians’ hands. I think that in many cases the concern of the world at this point is fully justified. We need to be on guard against that possibility and praise God as much as David did for wherever and by whomever justice is done.4
3. Refuge from the wicked (vv. 9, 10). The third thing for which David praises God is his having been a refuge for the oppressed in times of trouble. David had known much trouble during the years he had been forced to hide from King Saul, but God had been a refuge for him. Consequently, this becomes a dominant theme in the psalms, such as in Psalms 11, 16, 18, 40 and 46, for example. David is not without personal experience to back up his words when he says, “You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (v. 10).
Any Christian who cannot echo those words should be ashamed. Has God not said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5; cf. Deut. 31:6)? Did Jesus not say, “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20)?
At the end of this first section David praises the Lord again, echoing the verses with which the psalm began. It is striking that in each part the psalmist combines singing with preaching. And it is interesting to remember that great periods of church history have always been marked by both. At the time of the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther’s hymns were on the lips of the German people as much as his words were in their hearts. At the time of the Wesleyan revival in Great Britain the recovery of the gospel was accompanied by an equally stirring recovery of gospel singing, as the hymns of John and Charles Wesley, Augustus Toplady, William Cowper, John Newton and others show. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who notes this connection in his study of Psalm 9, concludes, “So sing on brethren, and preach on, and these shall both be a token that the Lord still dwelleth in Zion.”5
What is the second thing for which David praises the Lord? It what ways do you see this happening in our own day?
What is the third item of praise David mentions?
Reflection: Make a list of times when the Lord has been your refuge in trouble or affliction?
Application: What can you do to promote justice toward those who need it?
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3When the Apostle Paul was in Athens on Mars Hill he seems to have quoted verse 8 to show that God “will judge the world with justice” at the last day (Acts 17:31). However, in the psalm David is speaking of a present, earthly justice, as the context makes clear.
4See my discussion of the psalmist’s plea for justice in Psalm 7 and C. S. Lewis’ chapter on “Judgement in the Psalms” (Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1958), pp. 9-19), to which I refer. We, who think largely of an ultimate heavenly judgment, fear justice and seek deliverance from it through the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament figures, who think largely of an earthly judgment, rightly plead for justice to be accomplished now. Lewis argues that, without forgetting the higher Christian conception, we should all nevertheless be concerned for the other too.
5C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1a, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 99.