Psalm 9: You Alone, O God

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest

August 8, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 9. It, together with Psalm 10, forms an acrostic which proclaims profound hope in God’s immutable justice, especially toward the poor and oppressed.

The LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has set up his throne for judgment.
He judges the world with justice;
he governs the peoples with equity.
When we read the entire psalm, we realize that the psalmist is in a lot of trouble:
Be gracious to me, LORD;
see how my foes afflict me!
You alone can raise me from the gates of death

Psalm 9:14

But for our verses today, the writer focuses on God and God’s power rather than on the psalmist’s own dire situation. As Walter Brueggemann writes:

In this poem [Psalms 9 & 10], the decisive party is Yahweh,
who governs powerfully and equitably. 

That kind of focus is a really good way to pray, especially when we are faced with an issue over which we have no power. In such a situation, we can spend a lot of time fretting for an inaccessible solution. It can help just to stop and place our trust in God Who abides with us in any suffering and never abandons us.

For the needy will never be forgotten,
nor will the hope of the afflicted ever fade.

Psalm 9:19

It’s not an easy task to give ourselves to such trusting prayer, but if we can, peace and healing ensue.

I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will delight and rejoice in you;
I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.

When my troubles recede,
they disappear before your power.
For you upheld my right and my hope,
seated on your throne, judging justly.

Poetry: Zion by Rudyard Kipling
Kipling used the image of Zion to inspire courage during World War I.
Kipling’s son had been killed in the war, so the poem is both a lament and a rally to hope.

The Doorkeepers of Zion,
They do not always stand
In helmet and whole armour,
With halberds in their hand;
But, being sure of Zion,
And all her mysteries,
They rest awhile in Zion,
Sit down and smile in Zion;
Ay, even jest in Zion;
In Zion, at their ease.

The Gatekeepers of Baal,
They dare not sit or lean,
But fume and fret and posture
And foam and curse between;
For being bound to Baal,
Whose sacrifice is vain,
Their rest is scant with Baal,
They glare and pant for Baal,
They mouth and rant for Baal,
For Baal in their pain!

But we will go to Zion,
By choice and not through dread,
With these our present comrades
And those our present dead;
And, being free of Zion
In both her fellowships,
Sit down and sup in Zion --
Stand up and drink in Zion
Whatever cup in Zion
is offered to our lips

Music: Marching to Zion (Come, We That Love the Lord) – a wonderfully melodious old hymn written by Isaac Watts, first published in his Hymns & Sacred Songs, 1707. A great song to wake up our morning and rouse up our trust.

The song became a Gospel staple often associated with the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. Here is a Gospel rendering by The Famous Ward Gospel Singers.

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