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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 11–20
Verses 11–20

In these verses,

I. David, having praised God himself, calls upon and invites others to praise him likewise, Ps. 9:11. Those who believe God is greatly to be praised not only desire to do that work better themselves, but desire that others also may join with them in it and would gladly be instrumental to bring them to it: Sing praises to the Lord who dwelleth in Zion. As the special residence of his glory is in heaven, so the special residence of his grace is in his church, of which Zion was a type. There he meets his people with his promises and graces, and there he expects they should meet him with their praises and services. In all our praises we should have an eye to God as dwelling in Zion, in a special manner present in the assemblies of his people, as their protector and patron. He resolved himself to show forth God’s marvellous works (Ps. 9:1), and here he calls upon others to declare among the people his doings. He commands his own subjects to do it, for the honour of God, of their country, and of their holy religion; he courts his neighbours to do it, to sing praises, not, as hitherto, to their false gods, but to Jehovah who dwelleth in Zion, to the God of Israel, and to own among the heathen that the Lord has done great things for his people Israel, Ps. 126:3, 4. Let them particularly take notice of the justice of God in avenging the blood of his people Israel on the Philistines and their other wicked neighbours, who had, in making war upon them, used them barbarously and given them no quarter, Ps. 9:12. When God comes to make inquisition for blood by his judgments on earth, before he comes to do it by the judgment of the great day, he remembers them, remembers every drop of the innocent blood which they have shed, and will return it sevenfold upon the head of the blood-thirsty; he will give them blood to drink, for they are worthy. This assurance he might well build upon that word (Deut. 32:43), He will avenge the blood of his servants. Note, There is a day coming when God will make inquisition for blood, when he will discover what has been shed secretly, and avenge what has been shed unjustly; see Isa. 26:21; Jer. 51:35. In that day it will appear how precious the blood of God’s people is to him (Ps. 72:14), when it must all be accounted for. It will then appear that he has not forgotten the cry of the humble, neither the cry of their blood nor the cry of their prayers, but that both are sealed up among his treasures.

II. David, having praised God for former mercies and deliverances, earnestly prays that God would still appear for him; for he sees not all things put under him.

1. He prays, (1.) That God would be compassionate to him (Ps. 9:13): “Have mercy upon me, who, having misery only, and no merit, to speak for me, must depend upon mercy for relief.” (2.) That he would be concerned for him. He is not particular in his request, lest he should seem to prescribe to God; but submits himself to the wisdom and will of God in this modest request, “Lord, consider my trouble, and do for me as thou thinkest fit.”

2. He pleads, (1.) The malice of his enemies, the trouble which he suffered from those that hated him, and hatred is a cruel passion. (2.) The experience he had had of divine succours and the expectation he now had of the continuance of them, as the necessity of his case required: “O thou that liftest me up, that canst do it, that hast done it, that wilt do it, whose prerogative it is to lift up thy people from the gates of death!” We are never brought so low, so near to death, but God can raise us up. If he has saved us from spiritual and eternal death, we may thence take encouragement to hope that in all our distresses he will be a very present help to us. (3.) His sincere purpose to praise God when his victories should be completed (Ps. 9:14): “Lord, save me, not that I may have the comfort and credit of the deliverance, but that thou mayest have the glory, that I may show forth all thy praise, and that publicly, in the gates of the daughter of Zion;” there God was said to dwell (Ps. 9:11) and there David would attend him, with joy in God’s salvation, typical of the great salvation which was to be wrought out by the Son of David.

III. David by faith foresees and foretels the certain ruin of all wicked people, both in this world and in that to come.

1. In this world, Ps. 9:15, 16. God executes judgment upon them when the measure of their iniquities is full, and does it, (1.) So as to put shame upon them and make their fall inglorious; for they sink into the pit which they themselves digged (Ps. 7:15), they are taken in the net which they themselves laid for the ensnaring of God’s people, and they are snared in the work of their own hands. In all the struggles David had with the Philistines they were the aggressors, 2 Sam. 5:17, 22. And other nations were subdued by those ward in which they embroiled themselves. The overruling providence of God frequently so orders it that persecutors and oppressors are brought to ruin by those very projects which they intended to be destructive to the people of God. Drunkards kill themselves; prodigals beggar themselves; the contentious bring mischief upon themselves. Thus men’s sins may be read in their punishment, and it becomes visible to all that the destruction of sinners is not only meritoriously, but efficiently, of themselves, which will fill them with the utmost confusion. (2.) So as to get honour to himself: The Lord is known, that is, he makes himself known, by these judgments which he executes. It is known that there is a God who judges in the earth, that he is a righteous God, and one that hates sin and will punish it. In these judgments the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The psalmist therefore adds here a note extraordinary, commanding special regard, Higgaion; it is a thing to be carefully observed and meditated upon. What we see of present judgments, and what we believe of the judgment to come, ought to be the subject of our frequent and serious meditations.

2. In the other world (Ps. 9:17): The wicked shall be turned into hell, as captives into the prison-house, even all the nations that forget God. Note, (1.) Forgetfulness of God is the cause of all the wickedness of the wicked. (2.) There are nations of those that forget God, multitudes that live without God in the world, many great and many mighty nations, that never regard him nor desire the knowledge of his ways. (3.) Hell will, at last, be the portion of such, a state of everlasting misery and torment—Sheol, a pit of destruction, in which they and all their comforts will be for ever lost and buried. Though there be nations of them, yet they shall be turned into hell, like sheep into the slaughter-house (Ps. 49:14), and their being so numerous will not be any security or ease to them, nor any loss to God or the least impeachment of his goodness.

IV. David encourages the people of God to wait for his salvation, though it should be long deferred, Ps. 9:18. The needy may think themselves, and others may think them, forgotten for a while, and their expectation of help from God may seem to have perished and to have been for ever frustrated. But he that believes does not make haste; the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak. We may build upon it as undoubtedly true that God’s people, God’s elect, shall not always be forgotten, nor shall they be disappointed of their hopes from the promise. God will not only remember them, at last, but will make it to appear that he never did forget them; it is impossible he should, though a woman may forget her sucking child.

V. He concludes with prayer that God would humble the pride, break the power, and blast the projects, of all the wicked enemies of his church: “Arise, O Lord! (Ps. 9:19), stir up thy self, exert thy power, take thy seat, and deal with all these proud and daring enemies of thy name, and cause, and people.” 1. “Lord, restrain them, and set bounds to their malice: Let not man prevail; consult thy own honour, and let not weak and mortal men prevail against the kingdom and interest of the almighty and immortal God. Shall mortal man be too hard for God, too strong for his Maker?” 2. “Lord, reckon with them: Let the heathen be judges in thy sight, that is, let them be plainly called to an account for all the dishonour done to thee and the mischief done to thy people.” Impenitent sinners will be punished in God’s sight; and, when their day of grace is over, the bowels even of infinite mercy will not relent towards them, Rev. 14:10. 3. “Lord, frighten them: Put them in fear, O Lord! (Ps. 9:20), strike a terror upon them, make them afraid with thy judgments.” God knows how to make the strongest and stoutest of men to tremble and to flee when none pursues, and thereby he makes them know and own that they are but men; they are but weak men, unable to stand before the holy God—sinful men, the guilt of whose consciences make them subject to alarms. Note, It is a very desirable thing, much for the glory of God and the peace and welfare of the universe, that men should know and consider themselves to be but men, depending creatures, mutable, mortal, and accountable.

In singing this psalm we must give to God the glory of his justice in pleading his people’s cause against his and their enemies, and encourage ourselves to wait for the year of the redeemed and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion, even the final destruction of all anti-christian powers and factions, to which many of the ancients apply this psalm.