Recounting YHWH's Wondrous Deeds

By Lee Jones

.: Psalm 9 :.

After several psalms dealing directly with difficulty, we come now to a song of praise to the God who delivers David from his troubles. Just as he asked (or implored) God to hear him, now David will recount YHWH’s wondrous deeds.

Naturally, most of this psalm is about how YHWH strikes down His enemies in justice. He makes all memory of them perish (v. 6), they sink in their own pits (v. 15), and eventually go down to Sheol in death (v. 17).

Many of the psalms discuss the difficulties of life for God’s covenant people. These things are good, even if they don’t feel like it at the time.

Yet these pronouncements are not the most interesting thing about this psalm. The focus, from beginning to end, is on YHWH, but David zeroes in on an important note in verses 13 and 14:

“Be gracious to me O LORD!

See my affliction from those who hate me,

O you who lift me up from the gates of death

that I may recount all your praises

that in the gates of the daughters of Zion

I may rejoice in your salvation.”

If we were composing a petition to God because of torment from enemies, when we ask for mercy it would be for us to be comforted to return to living easy and the difficulties to end. Essentially we say, “God, would you do me a solid and fix this problem over here so I can get back to business?” We ask for convenience. We’re too cavalier with the thrice-holy God.

Not David, though. Here’s something we should notice. He begs for God’s grace, not assuming that he deserves it, and asks that He witness his distress. In the midst he recalls the past when YHWH lifted him up from the gates of death.

The gates of a city were a hugely important concept at this time. The gates were the only entrance to the city, and also the place where officials would hold court. The gates of the city were the epitome of the city itself. David says in v. 13 that God has brought him from the brink of death so that David may praise Him. It wasn’t merely to preserve David’s life, and so to preserve the bloodline of the Messiah, but it was also to keep David praising YHWH. What good would David be if he were to go down to death?

Verse 13 is poignant because it anticipates how David’s descendant according to the flesh, Jesus Christ, would fulfill these words by not only resurrecting from the dead but also securing salvation for his covenant people so they too will not be captive to death in sin.

David looks now to the future to a different set if gates: of the daughter of Zion, the holy city of Jerusalem, where YHWH had set His name and his temple. There is no better place at the time for David to rejoice in his salvation, because it was in the Holy of Holies where atonement was made under the sacrificial system.

Many of the psalms discuss the difficulties of life for God’s covenant people. These things are good, even if they don’t feel like it at the time.

Our times of struggle and difficulty make for times of distinct praise to God, who supplies us with grace upon grace, regardless of how easily we are living. In fact, sometimes we feel his grace the most in our darkest times, when His benevolence contrasts distinctly against our circumstances.

At this point, David’s couch isn’t being dissolved with tears, but it’s obvious he hasn’t forgotten those tears after they dried. And rather than letting past trials fill him with bitterness, David makes an altar of them and gets to praising.

May we all drink deeply of the same grace that kept David afloat.

Glory to God alone.

Lee Jones