Theme: Prayer for Future Deliverance
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
The second part of Psalm 9 is a prayer for future deliverance based on the praise of God for past deliverances recounted in part one (vv. 13-20). This section begins and ends with prayer, just as the first part began and ended with praise. There are two petitions:
1. A prayer for mercy (v. 13). This is a foundational petition, showing that David never approached God on the basis of any supposed goodness in himself or any achievement for which he believed he should be rewarded. He came always as a sinner seeking mercy.
2. A prayer for God to arise in judgment on the nations (vv. 19, 20). The ground for assurance in this petition is that this is what God has done so admirably in the past, which is what the first part of the psalm has been saying. It is because of past deliverances that David expects present and future deliverances from God now.
There are a number of places where Psalm 9 seems to be referring back to Psalm 7, and there is one of them in this section. In verse 15 David speaks of the nations having “fallen into the pit they have dug” and their feet being “caught in the net they have hidden,” just as in Psalm 7 he said, “He who is pregnant with evil . . . digs a hole and scoops it out and falls into the pit he has made” (v. 15). I do not know if David had any particular examples in mind as he wrote this, but it hard to read what he says and not think of some. In fact, we can think of one example, perhaps the clearest and most powerful in the entire Bible, that was not even known to him.
Years after David’s reign, when the Jews had been carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, there was a time when an enemy of the people named Haman concocted a plot against them. He tricked the king, whose name was Xerxes, into signing a law according to which, on a certain day, all the Jews in the kingdom were to be killed and their goods confiscated. What Haman did not know was that Esther, who had become Xerxes’ queen, was a Jewess. She was the adopted daughter of a man named Mordecai, and when Mordecai learned that Haman had plotted to have his people killed he persuaded Esther to intercede for them with Xerxes. Haman, the villain, had built a gallows on which he planned to hang Mordecai, his enemy. But when the plot was uncovered and Xerxes had intervened to spare the Jews’ lives, Haman was hanged on the very gallows he had himself constructed. Thus, as Psalm 9 suggests, Haman fell into the pit he had dug and was caught in the net he had hidden.
There is another point in this last section that is worth drawing attention to in closing. It is the reason David gives for praying for mercy in verse 13, his first petition. What is it? That he might escape hell? That he might have a comfortable life here and now? That he might be prospered above others? No. David prays for mercy specifically so that “… I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation” (v. 14). It is a way of saying that man’s chief end is not to enjoy this life or even merely to escape the punishment due us for our many sins, but to praise God.
“What is the chief end of man?” You know the answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question and Answer 1). And those are not separate things. To glorify God is to enjoy him, and the enjoyment of God always results in the praises of his people. We never come closer to our true and ultimate destiny as redeemed persons than when we do that, just as David has done so beautifully in this psalm.
What is the second half of this psalm about, and what two petitions does David make in it?
What is man’s chief end? How will you endeavor to do this better in the days ahead?
Key Point: To glorify God is to enjoy him, and the enjoyment of God always results in the praises of his people. We never come closer to our true and ultimate destiny as redeemed persons than when we do that, just as David has done so beautifully in this psalm.
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