Ep035: Psalm 9: Judge of the Nations

Hi. I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Today we look at Psalm 9. The most striking thing about this psalm is a vivid description of what has happened to the evil nations who were enemies of the poet and his people.

  • The nations stumbled and fell (v. 3)
  • They were filled with terror      (v. 20)
  • They fell into the pit they dug    (v. 15)
  • They were trapped in the snares they set   (v. 15)   
  • They were destroyed                 (v. 5)
  • Endless ruin overtook them       (v. 6)       
  • Their cities were uprooted         (v. 6)
  • They went  to the grave            (v. 17)
  • Even the memory of them perished    (v. 6)

It sounds like someone dropped a nuclear bomb on them, and there’s nothing left — not even a memory. So what caused this unhappy outcome for the nations?  It was God. He was on his throne judging.

But wait, wasn’t the poet talking about the God of Israel, who only had one temple, located in Jerusalem? Wasn’t the poet writing in the ancient near east, where each nation had their own local gods? And weren’t these local gods competing with each other to protect their people and harm their enemies? Who is this international, world-judging God the poet praises?

Israel never saw their God as just a local deity. They worshipped the creator-God of the universe, the salvation-God of his people, the judge of all the earth. He chose Israel as his special nation, but he also judged Israel. In the end, he didn’t even bother to protect his temple in Jerusalem — he let invading Babylonians pillage and destroy it, which convinced the Babylonians that this God of Israel was just another ineffective local god. And it threw the Isralites into a crisis of confusion and doubt.

There’s another striking thing about Psalm 9: this nation-judging God takes special interest in people who are afflicted and downtrodden. He creates social justice for the disadvantaged, he raises them up with dignity and honor, he gives them their share of God’s creation resources, he protects them from evil politicians and corrupt judges, he provides a stronghold to hide them from military conflicts. The poet says, “The needy will not always be forgotten, nor will the hope of the afflicted perish” (v. 18). Part of our job on earth is to join God in his social justice initiatives.

Let’s pray.

Jesus, when you told us to love and pray for our enemies, we hoped that your insight you would set the world at peace and bring your kingdom of love. But we have discovered, as you discovered on your way to be crucified, that the haters go on hating, traitors betray the innocent, empires crucify the unlucky, religions suppress the truth, and the rich and powerful have their way.

With the poet, we call on you as the judge of all the world, as one who values justice in persons and in nations. As China persecutes the church, as Boko Haram terrorizes central Africa, as the Saudis bomb Yemen, as America withdraws from Syria, and Canada says a weak, “Peace, peace,” we ask you, God, to judge the nations. Destroy what must be destroyed, tear down the power structures and fantasies they have built, until the rulers stand naked before you, their creator-God and judge.

With the poet we say “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken the ones who seek you” (v. 10).  We know your name, we call you the judge of all the earth. We seek you in our prayers and lives. When all the world around us seems chaos and injustice, we wait for you, God. Be our stronghold in times of trouble. Arrange our affairs with justice.

Amen.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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