Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
There is evidently a close relationship between the Ninth and Tenth Psalms. In the LXX, Vulg., and Jerome’s Latin Version they are reckoned as a single Psalm: and the absence of a title to Psalms 10, contrary to the general rule in Book I (Introd. p. liii), may indicate that in the Hebrew text also it was originally united to Psalms 9.
 Comp. the analogous case of Psalms 42, 43.
They are connected by resemblances (a) of form, and (b) of language. (a) The same ‘alphabetic’ or ‘acrostic’ structure appears in both. In Psalms 9 the pairs of verses begin with successive letters of the alphabet, with the exceptions that the fourth letter (Daleth) is missing; the fifth letter (Hç) is obscured by a corruption of the text in Psalm 9:7; and the eleventh letter (Kaph) is represented by Qôph in Psalm 9:19. Psalms 10 begins with the twelfth letter (Lamed); but the alphabetical arrangement is then dropped, and six letters are passed over. At Psalm 9:12 however the structure of Psalms 9 reappears, and Psalm 9:12; Psalm 9:14-15; Psalm 9:17 begin with the last four letters of the alphabet in order. (b) Language. ‘In times of trouble’ (Psalm 9:9, Psalm 10:1) is a peculiar phrase found nowhere else: the word for ‘oppressed’ or ‘downtrodden’ (Psalm 9:9; Psalm 10:18) occurs elsewhere only in Psalm 74:21; Proverbs 26:28 (?): ‘mortal man’ is mentioned at the close of both Psalms in the same connexion (Psalm 9:19-20; Psalm 10:18). Comp. further Psalm 9:12 a with Psalm 10:4; Psalm 10:13, Psalm 9:12 b with Psalm 10:12, and Psalm 9:18 with Psalm 10:11 : ‘for ever and ever,’ Psalm 9:5, Psalm 10:16 : the appeal to ‘arise’ Psalm 9:19, Psalm 10:12 : and other points of thought and expression.
 i.e. the hard guttural Semitic k, the 19th letter of the alphabet, takes the place of the soft k.
But while the resemblance in form and language is so marked, the difference in tone and subject is not less striking. The individuality of the writer, which is so prominent in Psalms 9 (Psalm 9:1-4; Psalms 13, 14), disappears in Psalms 10. Psalms 9 is a triumphant thanksgiving, rarely passing into prayer (Psalm 9:13; Psalm 9:19): its theme is the manifestation of God’s sovereign righteousness in the defeat and destruction of foreign enemies of the nation. Psalms 10 is a plaintive expostulation and prayer, describing the tyrannous conduct of godless men within the nation, and pleading that God will no longer delay to vindicate His righteousness, and prove Himself the Defender of the helpless.
 The only reference to ‘the nations’ (in Psalm 9:16) is by way of illustration.
The two Psalms present an unsolved literary problem. The description of the wicked man (Psalm 10:3-11) may have been taken from another poem, for it is distinguished by other peculiarities, besides the absence of the alphabetic structure. We cannot tell whether verses beginning with the missing letters of the alphabet were displaced to make room for it, or whether it stood here from the first. The latter alternative seems most probable, for the concluding verses of the Psalm have links of connexion with Psalm 9:3-11. Comp. ‘helpless” in Psalm 9:14 with Psalm 9:8; Psalm 9:10; Psalm 9:13 with Psalm 9:4; Psalm 9:14 with Psalm 9:11.
Psalms 9 however appears to be complete in itself, and it seems preferable to regard Psalms 10 as a companion piece rather than as part of a continuous whole.
The connexion of thought is clear. The Psalmist has watched the great conflict between good and evil being waged in two fields: in the world, between Israel and the heathen nations; in the nation of Israel, between godless oppressors of the weak and their innocent victims. He has seen the sovereignty of God decisively vindicated in the world by the defeat of Israel’s enemies: but when he surveys the conflict within the nation, wrong seems to be triumphant. So he prays for an equally significant demonstration of God’s sovereignty within the nation by a signal punishment of the wicked who deny His power or will to interpose.
These Psalms have been assigned to widely differing dates. But the tradition of their Davidic origin may be right. The author of Psalms 9 speaks as the representative of the nation, in language more natural to a king than to anyone else. The enemies of the nation are his enemies (Psalm 9:3); the national cause is his cause (Psalm 9:4).
This Psalm then may celebrate David’s victories in general (2 Samuel 8); and Psalm 10:16 may refer in particular to the expulsion of the Philistines who occupied the north of Palestine for some time after the disaster of Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:7), and to the subjugation of the Jebusites.
Nor is it difficult to understand how David might have to deplore the existence of domestic evils such as those described in Psalms 10, without being able to remedy them. The misgovernment of Saul’s later years, and the contest between Ish-bosheth and David must have left a serious legacy of civil disorder (1 Samuel 22:1-2; 2 Samuel 3:1; 2 Samuel 3:22; 2 Samuel 4:2); and we have indications that David was not in a position to control his powerful nobles and enforce the administration of justice (2 Samuel 3:39; 2 Samuel 15:2 ff.).
 Compare the account of Charlemain’s reign in Dean Church’s Beginning of the Middle Ages, p. 125.
The Davidic origin of Psalms 9 is supported by its connexion with Psalms 7. The closing words of Psalms 7 (cp. Psalm 18:49) are taken up and expanded in Psalm 9:1-2 : both Psalms are inspired by a vivid sense of the judicial righteousness of Jehovah (Psalm 7:6 ff., Psalm 7:11; Psalm 9:4; Psalm 9:7-8; Psalm 9:16; Psalm 9:19): in both we have the thought of evil recoiling upon its authors (Psalm 7:14 ff.; Psalm 9:15 ff.). The connexion of Psalm 5:11, Psalm 7:17, Psalm 8:1; Psalm 8:9, Psalm 9:1; Psalm 9:10; should also be noted.
It may further be remarked that in Psalms 10 triumphant injustice is regarded in the simplest light as a wrong that calls for redress; not as in Psalms 37, as a ground of discontent, or as in Psalms 73, as a trial of faith.
The train of thought is as follows.
Psalms 9. The Psalmist resolves to celebrate Jehovah’s praise for victory won by His help (Psalm 9:1-4). He contrasts the transitoriness of the nations in their wickedness with the eternal sovereignty of the righteous Judge (Psalm 9:5-8), Who never fails to defend the godly (Psalm 9:9-10). A renewed invitation to praise (Psalm 9:11-12) is succeeded by a prayer for help in the hour of need (Psalm 9:13-14); and the revelation of Jehovah’s judicial righteousness in the discomfiture of the heathen is once more proclaimed (Psalm 9:15-16). After an interlude of music the Psalm concludes with a confident anticipation of the certainty of judgement and deliverance (Psalm 9:17-18), and a prayer that the nations may be taught to know their human impotence (Psalm 9:19-20).
Psalms 10. From the conflict between Israel and the nations in which God’s sovereignty has been victoriously manifested, the Psalmist turns to the triumph of might over right in Israel itself. He remonstrates with Jehovah for His apparent indifference (Psalm 9:1-2), and draws a graphic picture of the atheistic self-complacency and pitiless tyranny of ‘the wicked man’ (Psalm 9:3-11). An urgent appeal to Jehovah to intervene and right these crying wrongs is followed by a confident expression of assurance that they are not unobserved or disregarded (Psalm 9:12-14). The prayer for the extirpation of evil finds a pledge for its fulfilment in the eternal sovereignty of Jehovah and the extermination of the heathen from His land (Psalm 9:15-16). The prayer of faith cannot remain unanswered, and heaven-protected right will finally be triumphant over earthly might (Psalm 9:17-18).
The title should be rendered as in R.V., For the Chief Musician; set to Muth-labben. Probably (if the Massoretic text is sound) Muth-labben are the opening words of some well-known melody to which the Psalm was to be sung. Comp. the title of 22: ‘set to Ayyeleth hash-Shahar,’ i.e. ‘the hind of the morning’; and of 56 and 57. The words are obscure, but may mean ‘Die for the son,’ or, ‘Death to the son.’
The analogy of other titles is decisive against all the interpretations which explain these words to refer to the contents or occasion of the Psalm; ‘upon the death of Ben,’ or, ‘Labben,’ or ‘the son;’ by whom some unknown but formidable enemy of the nation, or Goliath, or even (as though David could possibly have written in this tone then) Absalom, is supposed to be intended. The tradition that it refers to Goliath is as old as the Targum, which paraphrases, “Concerning the death of the man who went forth between the camps,” an allusion to 1 Samuel 17:4, where the Heb. word for ‘champion’ is ‘man of the space between the camps.’
It is however possible that the present text is a corruption of the words ‘upon Alamoth’ which occur in the title of 46 (cp. 1 Chronicles 15:20). So the LXX, Aquila, and Theodotion appear to have read, though they give wrong renderings. See Introd. p. xxv.
To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David. I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.1. I will praise thee, O Lord] R.V., I will give thanks unto the Lord, as in Psalm 7:17.
with my whole heart] With the heart, not with the lips only (Isaiah 29:13): with the whole heart, acknowledging that all the honour is due to Jehovah. Cp. Deuteronomy 6:5. These conditions of true worship correspond to the divine attributes of omniscience (Psalm 7:9), and ‘jealousy’ (Exodus 34:14).
thy marvellous works] A special term for the singular and conspicuous works of God, both in nature (Job 5:9), and in His dealings with His people (Exodus 3:20), particularly in the great crises of their history (Psalm 78:4; Psalm 78:11; Psalm 78:32), which declare His power and love, and arouse the admiration of all who behold them. The word includes ‘miracles’ commonly so called, as one limited class of ‘the wonderful works of God,’ but is of much wider application. To recount and celebrate His marvellous works is the duty and delight of God’s saints.
1–4. The Psalmist’s purpose to praise Jehovah for the recent manifestation of His righteous judgement in the defeat of His enemies. Each of the four lines in Psalm 9:1-2 begins with Aleph, the first letter of the alphabet.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.2. rejoice] R.V., exult; the same word as in Psalm 5:11 c. The closing words of Psalms 7 are taken up and expanded in these two verses.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.3, 4. Stanza of Beth. It is best to place a semicolon only at the end of Psalm 9:2, and render Psalm 9:3 in close connexion with it:
Because mine enemies turn back,
Stumble and perish at Thy presence.
The ‘presence’ or ‘face’ of God is to His enemies necessarily a manifestation of victorious wrath. Comp. Psalm 21:9 (R.V. marg.); Psalm 34:16; Exodus 14:24. The verse is a vivid picture of a panic rout: the foe turning to flee, stumbling in their precipitate haste, overtaken and annihilated. Cp. Psalm 35:5-6.
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.4. In the defeat of his enemies he sees God’s judicial intervention on his behalf. God has pronounced and executed sentence in his favour. Cp. Psalm 7:8-9.
thou satest &c.] Better, thou didst take thy seat on the throne, judging righteously. The throne is that of judgement (Psalm 9:7; Proverbs 20:8). God has assumed this judicial character, in answer to the Psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 7:7.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen] Or, as R.V. text, the nations, though here, where the word is parallel to the wicked, and denotes the nations in obstinate and sinful opposition to God’s people, heathen (R.V. marg.) might stand. God’s ‘rebuke’ is the effectual sentence of His wrath which carries its own execution with it (Psalm 76:6).
thou hast put out their name] R.V., Thou hast blotted out their name. Cp. Deuteronomy 9:14.
5, 6. Stanza of Gimel. The utter destruction of the nations in their wickedness.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.6. The enemy are consumed, left desolate for ever;
And (their) cities thou didst uproot; the very remembrance of them is perished.
An address to the enemy (P.B.V. and A.V.) would be out of place here; and the word rendered destructions does not bear an active sense, but means ruins or desolations. It is best to regard the words as still addressed to Jehovah, continuing the description of His judgment on the enemies of Israel. The language of this and the preceding verse recalls that of the curse on Amalek: “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14; cp. Deuteronomy 25:19). ‘Their memorial’ or ‘remembrance’ refers grammatically to the enemy, not to the cities, and the pronoun is repeated in the original to emphasise the contrast between those who are thus destroyed and forgotten, and Jehovah who sits enthroned on high for ever.
Critical reasons however suggest a slight alteration of the text. If the emphatic pronoun is transferred from the end of Psalm 9:6 to the beginning of Psalm 9:7, and a verb supplied, we may render,
They are perished, but the Lord sitteth &c.
This emendation (approved by Delitzsch) marks the contrast still more strongly (cp. Psalm 102:26), and moreover makes the pair of Psalm 9:7-8 begin, as they should, with the letter Hç. There is also much to be said in favour of transposing the clauses of Psalm 9:6 thus, as proposed by Nowack:
The enemy are consumed, the remembrance of them is perished:
And the cities thou didst uproot are desolate for ever.
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.7. But the Lord, in contrast to the enemies of His people, shall sit enthroned for ever, as King and Judge. For this pregnant sense of sit, cp. Psalm 29:10; Exodus 18:14.
7–10. A stanza of four verses, each (as the text stands) beginning with the letter Vâv. But Psalm 9:7 may originally have begun with Hç. [In Dr Scrivener’s text Hç is prefixed to Psalm 9:6; but this verse should belong to the stanza of Gimel). The eternity of Jehovah’s sovereignty is contrasted with the annihilation of His enemies: the righteousness of His rule with the injustice of the wicked.
And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.8. And he shall judge] He is emphatic. His administration, in contrast to that of so many human rulers, will be one of perfect justice and equity. And it will be universal. The vindication of his right which the Psalmist has just experienced is the earnest of a judgement which will embrace the whole world and all peoples. For people read peoples, and for uprightness, equity, as in Psalm 98:9. Cp. Psalm 7:8; Psalm 96:10; Psalm 96:13; Acts 17:31.
The Heb. word tçbhçl rendered world denotes the fruitful, habitable part of the earth (cp. οἰκουμένη), here of course including its inhabitants. Cp. Proverbs 8:31.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.9, 10. So may Jehovah be a high tower for the down-trodden,
A high tower in times of extremity;
And let them that know Thy name trust in Thee,
Because Thou hast not forsaken them that seek Thee, O Jehovah.
These verses express the result of Jehovah’s judgement in the deliverance of those who are crushed and down-trodden (Psalm 10:18; Job 5:4) by the world’s magnates, and the consequent encouragement of the faithful.
a refuge] A high tower or fort; in the Psalter always metaphorically of God. Cp. Psalm 18:2, &c., and the use of the cognate verb in Psalm 20:1 and elsewhere. The figure may well be derived from the experience of David in his outlaw life. The down-trodden victim is lifted up far out of the reach of his tormentors. Cp. Proverbs 18:10.
trouble] A word occurring elsewhere only in Psalm 10:1. It seems to mean the extremity of trouble in which all hope of deliverance is cut off. The idea may be that the precipice which apparently barred the fugitive’s escape proves to be his retreat from his pursuers.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.10. they that know thy name] Who recognise the character of God thus revealed in His Providence. Cp. “they that love thy name,” Psalm 5:11; and Psalm 8:1; Psalm 91:14.
thou, Lord, hast not forsaken] Cp. the noble words of Sir 2:10; “Look at the generations of old and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded? or did any abide in his fear, and was forsaken? or whom did he ever despise, that called upon him?”—the “sentence” which “fell with weight” upon John Bunyan’s spirit in the agony of his spiritual despair. “It was with such strength and comfort on my spirit, that I was as if it talked with me.” Grace Abounding, § 62 ff.
them that seek thee] See note on Psalm 24:6.
Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.11. which dwelleth in Zion] Or, (cp. Psalm 9:7) sitteth enthroned. Zion became the special abode of Jehovah from the time when the Ark, the symbol of His Presence, was placed there (Psalm 76:2; Psalm 132:13 f.). The cherubim which overshadowed the ark were the throne of His glory (Psalm 80:1; Psalm 99:1). It was the earthly counterpart of heaven (Psalm 2:4): from thence He manifested Himself for the help of His people (Psalm 3:4; Psalm 20:2).
the people] Rather, the peoples, as R.V. marg. Not Israel, but the nations around, are meant. Jehovah’s doings (Psalm 77:12; Psalm 78:11; Psalm 103:7), i.e. His mighty works on behalf of His people, are to be proclaimed among them. The first step towards their conversion is that they should know the evidences of His power and love. Cp. Psalm 18:49; Psalm 57:9; Psalm 96:3; Psalm 105:1; Isaiah 12:4.
11, 12. Stanza of Zayin. A call to praise.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.12. For he that maketh requisition for bloodshed hath remembered them:
He hath not forgotten the cry of the humble.
The call to praise is based on a definite experience (hath remembered, hath not forgotten), rather than on a general truth (remembereth, forgetteth not). Jehovah is the Goel, the Avenger of blood, who investigates all offences against His sacred gift of human life, and demands satisfaction for them (Genesis 9:5 f.). Such offences ‘cry’ to God for vengeance (Genesis 4:10). ‘Bloodshed’ may include crimes of violence which fall short of actual murder, but rob men of the rightful use and enjoyment of their lives. Cf. Job 24:2 ff.
them] The oppressed seekers of Jehovah mentioned in Psalm 9:9-10; the ‘poor’ of the next line.
the cry] For illustration comp. Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:9; 1 Samuel 9:16; Job 34:28.
the humble] R.V. the poor, marg. meek. The traditional reading (Qrî) is ‘anâvîm, though the text (Kthîbh) has ‘aniyyîm. Both words are derived from the same root, meaning to bend or bow down. The first is intransitive in form, and denotes the character of one who bows himself down: lowly, humble, meek (LXX πραΰς). The second is passive in form, and denotes primarily the condition of one who is bowed down by external circumstances of poverty, trouble, or oppression: poor, afflicted (comp. the cognate substantive in Psalm 9:13, my trouble, R.V, affliction). But inasmuch as humility is learnt in the school of affliction and, poverty (cp. Matthew 5:3 with Luke 6:20), it often has the secondary sense of meek, humble (LXX generally πτωχός, πένης, sometimes ταπεινός or πραΰς), and the distinction between the two words is lost. The second of the two words (but not the first) is often coupled or in parallelism with ebhyôn ‘needy,’ Psalm 9:18), or dal ‘weak,’ ‘feeble’ (Psalm 82:3-4); and these words also, though primarily denoting condition, tend to acquire a moral significance.
The ‘afflicted,’ ‘poor,’ ‘meek,’ ‘humble,’ are a class that meet us frequently in the Psalms and Prophets. They are those whose condition specially calls for the special protection of Jehovah, and of righteous rulers who are His true representatives (Psalm 72:7; Psalm 72:4; Psalm 72:12); and whose character for the most part fits them to be objects of the divine favour. They are contrasted with the proud, the scorners, the oppressors, whose contemptuous independence and high-handed violence will meet with due punishment (Proverbs 3:34).
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:13. Have mercy upon me] Rather, Be gracious unto me. See note on Psalm 4:1.
consider my trouble &c.] See the affliction which I suffer from them that hate me. Cp. Psalm 10:14; Psalm 31:7; Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:9; Exodus 4:31.
thou that liftest me up from the gates of death] He had been brought down as it were to the very entrance of that mysterious place from which he knew of no possibility of return; to the gates which opened for entrance but not for exit. Cp. Psalm 107:18; Job 38:17; Isaiah 38:10; Matthew 16:18; and the Homeric Ἀΐδαο πύλαι (Il. 9:646, &c.). How different the Christian view of “the grave and gate of death” as the passage to “a joyful resurrection!”
13, 14. Stanza of Cheth. The connexion is difficult. The preceding and succeeding verses speak of deliverance granted, of victory won. Why then this abruptly introduced prayer for relief? To regard it as the ‘cry of the afflicted’ in their past distress seems inconsistent with the vigorous directness of the Psalm; and it is best to suppose that the recollection of dangers which still threaten prompts a prayer even in the moment of triumph. But it is possible that by a simple change in the vocalisation (Introd. p. lxvii) the verbs should be read as perfects instead of imperatives:—‘Jehovah hath been gracious unto me; he hath seen my affliction … lifting me up &c.’ So the Greek version of Aquila; and so Jerome, according to the best reading (misertus est mei … vidit afflictionem meam).
That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.14. in the gates] i.e. with the utmost publicity (Psalm 116:14); for the city gates were the common place of concourse and business, corresponding to the agora or forum of Greece and Rome. Cp. Job 29:7; Proverbs 8:3; Jeremiah 17:19-20. The implied contrast between “the cheerful ways of men” and the gloomy entrance to the nether world is obvious.
Ports (P.B.V.) is an obsolete word for gates, from Lat. porta.
the daughter of Zion] A poetical personification of the citizens or the city as an individual. Originally Zion was thought of as the mother, the citizens collectively as her daughter; but as terms for land and people are easily interchanged, the expression came to be applied to the city itself (Isaiah 1:8; Lamentations 2:15). ‘Daughter of Zion’ occurs nowhere else in the Psalter (see however ‘daughter of Tyre,’ Psalm 45:12; ‘daughter of Babylon,’ Psalm 137:8), but together with the cognate phrases ‘daughter of Jerusalem,’ ‘daughter of my people’ &c. frequently in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and is specially characteristic of the Lamentations.
salvation] R.V. marg., saving help. See note on Psalm 3:8.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.15. The heathen] The nations, as in Psalm 9:5. The figures are taken from the pitfalls and nets used in hunting. Cp. Psalm 7:15, Psalm 35:7-8, Psalm 57:6.
15, 16. Stanza of Teth, resuming the description of the judgment. Wickedness has been made to minister to its own discomfiture. Cp. Psalm 7:15 f.
The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.16. Jehovah hath made himself known, he hath executed judgment,
Snaring the wicked in the work of his own hands.
For God’s revelation of Himself in judgment comp. Psalm 48:3 (R.V.): Exodus 7:5; Exodus 14:4; Exodus 14:18; Ezekiel 38:23.
Higgaion] A musical term, rendered a solemn sound in Psalm 92:3, and here in conjunction with Selah directing the introduction of a jubilant interlude, to celebrate the triumph of the divine righteousness.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.17. R.V. rightly:
The wicked shall return to Sheol,
Even all the nations that forget God.
Sheol is not hell as the place of torment. What is meant is that the career of the wicked in this world will be cut short by the judgement of God. Cp. Psalm 55:15, Psalm 63:9. But why ‘return?’ Man must ‘return’ unto the ground from which he was taken, to the dust of which he was made, to his elementary atoms (Genesis 3:19; Psalm 104:29; Psalm 90:3). A still closer parallel is to be found in the words of Job (Job 30:23) ‘unto death wilt thou make me return.’ Cp. too Job 1:21. The shadowy existence in Sheol to which man passes at death is comparable to the state of non-existence out of which he was called at birth. “From the great deep to the great deep he goes.” There Job will have no more enjoyment of life, there ‘the wicked’ will have no more power for evil.
that forget God] Cp. Psalm 50:22; Job 8:13, for the phrase, and Psalm 10:4 for the thought. Observe that it is God, not Jehovah; the nations could not know Him in His character of the God of revelation, but even to them “he left not himself without witness” (Acts 14:17), but manifested to them what they could know concerning Himself (Romans 1:18-23). Deliberate wickedness, especially as shewn in antagonism to God’s chosen people, implied a culpable forgetfulness of God.
17, 18. Stanza of Yod. Confident anticipation for the future, arising naturally out of the contemplation of Jehovah’s recent judgement.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.18. For the needy shall not perpetually be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the afflicted be disappointed for ever.
Man forgets God; but God does not forget man.
expectation] The patient hope which waits upon God in faith (LXX ὑπομονή: Vulg. patientia). Comp. the frequent use of the cognate verb generally rendered wait: Psalm 25:3; Psalm 25:5; Psalm 25:21, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:34, Psalm 40:1, Psalm 130:5; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 26:8 : and elsewhere.
the poor] Here the traditional reading is ‘aniyyîm, ‘afflicted,’ though the text has ‘anâvîm, ‘meek.’ See note on Psalm 9:12.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.19, 20. This stanza should begin with Kaph, but (if the text is sound) the similar letter Qoph is substituted for it. [Kaph is prefixed to Psalm 9:18 in Dr Scrivener’s text; but this verse belongs to the stanza of Yod.] It is a prayer for further and still more complete judgment upon the nations, that they may be taught to know their human weakness.
Arise, O Jehovah; let not mortal man wax strong:
Let the nations be Judged in thy presence.
Ordain terror for them, O Jehovah,
Let the nations know they are but mortal.
The word for ‘man’ (enôsh) denotes man in his weakness as contrasted with God (2 Chronicles 14:11; Job 4:17; Isaiah 51:7; Isaiah 51:12). ‘Strength’ is the prerogative of God (Psalm 62:11); though men and nations are apt to think that it is inherent in themselves (Psalm 52:7); and therefore the Psalmist prays that the proud antagonism of the nations may receive a salutary lesson. They are to be summoned to Jehovah’s presence and there judged.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.20. Put them in fear] Lit. set terror for them: some awe-inspiring exhibition of power, such as were the wonders of the Exodus. (Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 26:8; Deuteronomy 34:12; Jeremiah 32:21.) The rendering of LXX, Vulg., Syr., appoint a lawgiver over them, (reading môreh for môrah) is certainly wrong, though it is adopted by Luther and by some modern critics.