Psalm 9-10

'A stronghold in times of trouble'

Last Sunday we made our usual outrageous profession that ‘Yours [God’s] is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.  Amen.’  That confession seems outrageous because the daily news seems to contradict it.  COP26 is convening in Glasgow, billed as our last hope to change the course of global warming.  Mostly what we’ve heard so far are speeches of self-congratulation.  The death toll from covid-19 has reached 5 million people worldwide.  A veteran reporter is murdered in Mexico.  In Yemen, at least 10 people were killed and over two dozen injured Sunday — including children — after Houthi rebels fired ballistic missiles into a religious school and mosque in the central province of Marib.  In the same country, some 20 million people are in dire need of assistance as civil war rages.  To God belongs all kingdoms and all power?

Psalm 9 & 10, by common consent, belong together.  There are several noteworthy movements in this prayer:

  • The prayer begins in praise.
  • Verses 9-10 anchor the entire psalm 9.1-10.18.
  • There is a cluster of seven words (from the same Hebrew root) named in the prayer including - the afflicted, poor, oppressed, and meek. The afflicted are those who know they need help.
  • The psalm shows that it is fine to challenge God to take action to punish people for their wrongdoing. Taking redress is God’s business, not ours, but we are free to urge God to act. 
  • The strength of the nations is no match for God’s sovereignty.
  • The wicked boast that the poor will get no help from God but the psalmist confidently dares to ask God not to forget and trusts that god will hear (vs. 16-18).

Perhaps you remember the Dark Lord’s tower in Lord of the Rings?  It is a place of fierce power which seeks to control all of Middle-earth and enslave it.

But there are forces that oppose this evil. 

The White Tower is the secure fortress from which the hobbits and their allies sally forth to engage the power of evil. 

The great Russian novelist, Fydor Dostoyevsky, once wrote that ‘if God is dead, everything is permitted.’  While the ‘wicked’ act on such an assumption, the psalmist dares to differ.

The centre-piece of this psalm is 9.9-10:

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Thanks be to God!