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Psalm 9 & 10

June 16, 2024

Psalm 9 & 10

Passage: Psalm 9-10
Service Type:

Unfortunately, we had some audio issues with this recording. Please forgive the poor video and audio quality. 


Psalm 9 & 10

June 16 – Living by Faith, Not by Sight

[ 001 ] I have always been a fairly athletic person. I started playing baseball at age 8, and played in high school, and then rec league softball and basketball in the years since. 

But back in middle school, I was really hoping to play basketball. And what you have to know is that I was the shortest kid in my class, so not exactly basketball material. But in my head, I was pretty decent. My school was big enough that we had tryouts to play middle school basketball, and in 6th grade, I didn’t make the team. I was disappointed, but at that age it was, “eh, whatever.” 7th grade came around, and I tried out again. Those big 8th graders were gone now, and I had a better chance at making the team. Still small for my age, and once again I didn’t make the team. This time, it was a little more disappointing, but still, there’s always 8th grade. 

8th grade rolls around, and I try out again, thinking I’m a shoo-in this year – and sure enough I made the team! But I rode the bench every game. Played garbage time, and that was pretty much it. Now, maybe some of you are starting to pick up what I was not. I kept blaming it on my height. I’m short for my age. That was the reason the coach gave me when I didn’t make the team or play very much. Another guy was about my height, and he was a starter, but I still didn’t get it. 

In high school, I tried out in 9th grade. Didn’t make it. 

I tried out in 10th grade. Didn’t make the team. But I figured, you know what – Michael Jordan got cut his 10th grade year too, so I still have hope. We walk by faith, not by sight. So I would shoot hoops in our driveway until late at night – sometimes until my fingers would bleed – and I would watch every car that drove by, hoping for that movie scene moment where the car would stop, reverse lights come on, and he drives in and says, I’m a college recruiter, and you’re pretty good, kid. 

I tried out in 11th grade again, didn’t get my name called, and that was when I finally got the hint. It didn’t have anything to do with how tall I am. I was just not good at basketball. 

I take the time to tell you that whole story because you need to know that when your parents tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to, they are lying to you. It’s just not true. That story has nothing to do with the sermon today, but I just wanted you to know that. I’m over it though. Hardly ever think about it. The band can come back up and we’ll close in prayer. 

No, I’m kidding. I tell you that story because we all know there are times in life where there is sometimes a major discrepancy between what we “know” to be true, and what we actually experience in real life, right? What I “knew to be true” in my head at age 12, 13 ,14 was that I was preparing for the NBA and I just hadn’t been discovered yet. But what I experienced was not at all like the picture I had in my mind. 

This story sets up what Psalm 9 and 10 present to us. These two Psalms go together. They can each stand on their own as true – you can read one and move on, but when you put them together, you get the picture that what we know to be true isn’t always what we see or experience. Let’s take a dive into this, starting again with the title.  

[ 002 ] PSALM 9 – For the choir director: according to Muth-labben. A psalm of David.

Once again, this is meant to be a song. It’s for the choir director. Once again, I have no idea what Muth-labben means, except that it’s quite possibly a melody or musical term. And once again, it’s author is David – shepherd boy who killed Goliath, and later became king of Israel – described by God as “a man after his own heart.”

[ 003 ] And Psalm 9 starts off as many Psalms do, with a line or two of worship. 1 I will thank the Lord with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous works. 2 I will rejoice and boast about you; I will sing about your name, Most High. 

Four “I will” statements back to back. Statements of Gratitude. Praise. Joy. Singing. What is David praising God for? That’s in the next lines… [ 004-1 ] My enemies retreat because you have upheld my just cause; you are seated on your throne as a righteous judge. Then there is more in verses 5 and 6  [ 004-2 ] – Verse 5 You have rebuked the nations: You have destroyed the wicked; you have erased their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy has come to eternal ruin; you have uprooted the cities, and the very memory of them has perished

I mean, this is beautiful. It’s this picture of what we all want. David is thinking specifically of Gentile nations that surround them, and ways God has protected his people throughout the centuries. Bringing them out of Egypt, taking over Canaan, and so many more. God has always been their defender.  

 [ 005-1 ] 7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever; No one is erasing his name, no one is putting him to ruin or uprooting him – he has established his throne for judgment.  [ 005-2 ]8 And he judges the world with righteousness; he executes judgment on the nations with fairness. 

You notice the legal language here? Starting back in verse 4, you are seated on your throne as a righteous judge, upholding my request for justice. Now here in 7-8: You are enthroned forever, and your throne is built for judging – which you do with righteousness and fairness. He can’t be anything other than righteous and fair. That’s who he is.

And look at the security that brings.  [ 006 ] 9 The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted, a refuge in times of trouble. Because he is righteous and fair, we can run to him in times of trouble. And look at this next verse: 10 Those who know your name trust in you because you have not abandoned those who seek you, Lord. It’s not the Lord is some unknowable, cold-hearted judge who is supposed to not get emotionally involved in a case. He is faithful to those who know his name, trust him, and seek him. Knowing his name is knowing his character, his reputation, who he is. So 11 Sing to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; proclaim his deeds among the nations. Because,  [ 007 ] 12 …the one who seeks an accounting for bloodshed remembers them; he does not forget the cry of the oppressed.

This is the kind of judge you want on your case. He’s the kind of judge you would run to if you got in trouble.  [ 008] He’s not the guy on the billboard or the commercial, “Have you been in a motorcycle accident? Or one of my favorites [ 008-2 ] 1-800-Car-Hit-U?” and you’re like – uh, that sounds like regret waiting to happen. 

This is the kind of judge that is a safe place when you’ve messed up badly. He’s the guy you want on the bench. He’s merciful. He sticks up for the abandoned. He is throwing the book at murderers. He never overlooks the oppressed. Verse 12 says He remembers those who know his name and seek him, he does not forget the cry of the oppressed – he’ll go to great lengths to defend them. He’s the guy you talk about to your friends at the Father’s Day BBQ this afternoon and say, “you want this guy.” He’s accessible and approachable, so David approaches the bench, so to speak, in heartfelt honest prayer: 

 [ 009-1 ] 13 Be gracious to me, Lord; consider my affliction at the hands of those who hate me. Lift me up from the gates of death,  [ 009-2 ] 14 so that I may declare all your praises. I will rejoice in your salvation within the gates of Daughter Zion. Skip down to verse [ 010 ] 18 For the needy will not always be forgotten; the hope of the oppressed will not perish forever. 

Verse 18 is one of the great promises of God. Great news if you feel needy or forgotten. Great news if you feel hopeless or oppressed. It won’t last forever. Evil will one day be gone for good. And so the prayer is, 19 Rise up, Lord! Do not let mere humans prevail; let the nations be judged in your presence. Put the fear of YOU in them, God – expose their weaknesses and show them for what they really are.

Psalm 9 stands on its own as a great encouragement to the people of God. Yahweh is in control over all the evil in this world. He makes nations rise and fall. And most of the time, nations don’t fall because God rains down fire from heaven on them. No, he judges nations and individuals by allowing them to get caught in their own traps. He cares about the weak. The little guy. He cares about the bench players. He cares about those who are oppressed and forgotten! He cares about his own! The believers who seek him, trust him, and know his name. 

Psalm 9 is a beautiful Psalm about what is doctrinally true. It’s fairly neat and clean and orderly. It’s one of the medium/fast songs in the worship service that gets you clapping along, and the drums are going, the band is rocking.

But if Psalm 9 is me shooting hoops in the driveway, knocking down shots one after the other. Draining the deep threes, hitting the fadeaway, making free throws and crazy layups, Psalm 10 is the coach coming to me for the 5th time – you didn’t make the team. 

Let’s make it a little more raw. Yesterday, Jodi and I attended the funeral of a 41 year old mother of 2 young boys. She went to the doctor at the end of March because of some abdominal pain, and died of a rare and aggressive cancer just over two months later. I also have a good friend, 43 years old, 4 kids the same ages as mine – who also has stage 4 cancer, and unless God performs a miracle in the next couple of days, he’s going to fall asleep here and not wake up.  

Or, to use some of the stories in this room – finding one thing after another wrong with your house, or yet another set of tests and doctor appointments with still no answers, or having the very thing you prayed for taken away, or struggles in marriage or messy divorces, or getting hurt by people in church who are supposed to be the ones who love you the most, or having adult kids that want nothing to do with God, or they fight and threaten all kinds of things and you’re never sure what to expect from one day to the next.

And we look at all the celebration and promise of Psalm 9, the bedrock foundation for faith, and we read that God is righteous and fair and he never abandons those who seek him, and yet our daily reality doesn’t always seem that way. Doesn’t seem fair. Doesn’t seem right. I know he said I’m never abandoned, but boy it sure feels like he’s on vacation this year.

And  [ 011 ] Psalm 10:1 meets us right there, often with tears streaming down our faces asking, 1 Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?  

Have you ever felt that? Wondered that? Asked those same questions? God where are you? Of course you have. We all have. And yet isn’t it a little comforting to see that the Bible isn’t just full of Psalm 9’s? Every word of this scripture – OT and NT – was breathed out by God, delivered through the Holy Spirit to human authors, so that we could know God. And because he made us with limits, God himself understands that our lives won’t always look the way Psalm 9 sets them up to look, and in Psalm 10, out of his incredible compassion and grace and kindness, he lovingly gives us permission to say, God I can’t you right now. It feels to me like you are hiding. 

In a strange way, it’s actually verses like this one that give me confidence that everything we read Psalm 9 is true! It’s more proof that God knows us, that he loves us, that he hears us, that he understands what we’re experiencing, when he says, oh by the way, there are going to be times you’re going to wonder why I feel so far away. There are going to be times, some of your most troubling times, where you’re going to wonder if I’m intentionally avoiding you. Hiding. Here – let me write a prayer for you. It’ll be one sentence, because that’s about all you’ll be able to pray in that moment. But you don’t have to worry that you’ll get struck by lightning for praying it, because I wrote it for you! Isn’t that so helpful? 

Now, David isn’t standing at the funeral of a friend, and maybe that’s not your experience either. David is actually looking over the political and relational landscape of his world at the time, and he’s seeing people with bad intentions, people who are reckless and destructive, yet some of them in positions of power or authority, just running over the weak. Running over the oppressed. Taking advantage of people who can’t do anything about it.

You can find that kind of thing in our day today too, right? Just about anywhere you look. 

2 In arrogance the wicked relentlessly pursue their victims; let them be caught in the schemes they have devised. 3 For the wicked one boasts about his own cravings; the one who is greedy curses and despises the Lord. 

Arrogance. Boasting. Greed. Following their cravings and despising the Lord – are we reading the newspaper or Twitter right now? It’s not all that different today than it was back then. We’re still humans. Psalm 9 started off with four “I will” statements, about how David will worship the Lord, and now here in Psalm 10 there are 4 different statements from the mouth of the person who despises the Lord, and these statements actually pull back the curtain and expose the hearts of those who do evil in the world... 

  •  [ 012-1 ] 4 In all his scheming, the wicked person arrogantly thinks, “There’s no accountability, since there’s no God.” 
      1. Statement #1 basically is, “I can do whatever I want, because I am the authority over my own life.” 
  •  [ 012-2 ] 6 He says to himself, “I will never be moved — from generation to generation I will be without calamity.” 
      1. This is the attitude that I’m invincible. I’ll never get sick. I’ll never make a huge costly mistake, I’ll never be caught or held to account. The people in my life will understand, and none of my choices will end poorly. And on top of that – I’m not planning to die. 
    1.  [ 012-3 ] Third statement: 11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he hides his face and will never see.” 
      1. It’s funny that in the first statement, he said there is no God, but now he is saying “God has forgotten, he is hiding, and he won’t see.” Which means it’s not that this person is a true atheist. This person knows there is a God, but lives like there isn’t.
  •  [ 012-4 ] And here’s the last statement of the wicked, which is the other bookend to the same thing he said in the first statement: 13 Why has the wicked person despised God? He says to himself, “You will not demand an account.”  

Now, if we zoom out and look at those four statements together, you find the attitude behind all the sin and evil in the world – It’s people living naturally, normally, as if God doesn’t exist. As if they are their own authority, God isn’t watching, and even if he is – he’s not going to do anything about it.

The last time I looked at porn, he didn’t hit me with lightning, so… maybe he doesn’t really care. The last time I fudged some numbers in my accounting, no one jumped out of a closet and said “I saw that” – in fact it worked out pretty well and saved me some money. The last time I cheated on that test in school, I didn’t get caught or fail, and God didn’t do anything to me – maybe there’s a blind spot in everything he can see. You see how we do this, right? 

But most of us don’t question whether or not God exists. That’s not the most common doubt that rattles our faith. What tends to rattle our faith more is when we’ve read Psalm 9 and we are convinced that God exists, we know his heart is for the weak, we know he promises to make himself known and execute judgment on the wicked, we know he is sovereign and has full and final authority over all things – and yet our daily experience looks like he doesn’t. It looks like evil and sickness and cancer and corruption are winning, and we’re right back to verse 1, God how can you tolerate this? How can you just sit there and watch this happen when you are powerful enough to do something about it? 

So when you start to experience that tension between Psalm 9 and Psalm 10, between what you know to be true and what you’re experience is, there are a couple of responses we can have: 

    1.  [ 013-1 ] Entertain the lie. Live like God doesn’t exist. One option is to entertain the lie, and let your life slowly drift away from knowing God and seeking him. Oh, in the back of your head you’ll say haven’t completely rejected Christianity, at least you keep telling yourself that, but when it boils right down to it, you’ve entertained the lie that maybe he’s not as closely involved in our lives as Psalm 9 seems to make you think. I believe there’s a God, still see the suffering in the world, and so I want to keep my options open that their might be something else out there. Entertain the Lie.  
  •  [ 013-2 ] Another option is Despair. You can see the tension between Psalm 9 and 10 and you despair. God must be weak. He must not care like he says he does. He must not be as close as he says he is. I must have done something to deserve this, or maybe it wasn’t what I did – it’s what I didn’t do. Jesus didn’t do miracles in his hometown because of their unbelief – maybe I don’t have enough faith. Maybe it’s my fault things are the way they are in my life – I should have believed more for this and things would have been different – and let me help you understand why that leads to despair – If you’re going to go around thinking you have to have a certain threshold of faith before God will answer your prayers, you’re right back to works based religion. And Galatians would remind you – you started with the Spirit, don’t revert back to works now. But that is an option when the world doesn’t look like you think it should – despair. 
  1.  [ 013-3 ] A third option is Blind Optimism. Just smile all the time, pretend it doesn’t hurt, and throw around all the catchy Bible lines you can think of: “God is good all the time,” or “Bible says rejoice always, that trials are for our good” or the big one “God works all things together for good, so somehow this works out for our good.” I’m not saying those statements aren’t true, but they can become a means of escape. Tell myself I’m okay enough times, and hopefully someday I’ll believe it. If I smile enough and force myself to be cheerful, maybe it’ll stop hurting.
  2.  [ 013-4 ] But obviously, the best option is to Believe the gospel. We can let the good news of Jesus meet us in our despair, meet us in our hurt. David goes on to finish this out in  [ 014-1 ] verse 14 But you yourself have seen trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into your hands. The helpless one entrusts himself to you; you are a helper of the fatherless. [ 014-2 ] 15 Break the arm of the wicked, evil person, until you look for his wickedness, but it can’t be found. [ 014-3 ] 16 The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. [ 014-4 ] 17 Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully, 18 doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed so that mere humans from the earth may terrify them no more. 

In David’s mind, he knew the history of Yahweh, how he had seen the grief and trouble with the people of Israel, and how he took matters into his own hands. David didn’t realize it here, but once again, he is pointing to Jesus. Verse 14, you yourself have seen trouble and grief. [ 015-1 ] Isaiah 53 says he was a man of sorrows, and well acquainted with grief. 

\When he came to earth, it wasn’t because he needed to “go down there and see what’s going on” because he couldn’t see trouble and grief from where he lives. He came so he could see trouble and grief first hand, meaning he experienced it. He walked it. lived it. Cried it. Felt it. 

[ 016-1 ] Colossians 2:13 tell us that in doing that, Jesus has met us in our deepest need. That he has brought us out of our deadness in sin and made us alive, united us to everything that he is, and forgave all of our sin. [ 016-2 ] The next verse says that Jesus erased everything God held against us – every one of God’s standards we had broken, every act of sin or rebellion against him, every time we lived as if he doesn’t exist, and all the obligations we would have to perform in order to make those wrongs right, and he nailed it all to the cross! [ 016-3] And not only that, the next verse says Jesus stole the power of the enemy – he disarmed them. 

Psalm 10:15 says, come on God, break the arm of the wicked evil person. God take away their strength. Take away their power, and Colossians 2:15 says that Jesus fulfilled that in the ultimate sense! When Jesus died and rose again, He disarmed our enemies at the cross and triumphed over sin, death, and Satan.

Satan can’t hold that abortion over you anymore. He can’t hold your sexual history over you anymore. He can’t hold your divorce over you anymore. He can’t hold that sin over you anymore. He doesn’t get to whisper in your ear, God’s not paying attention right now. God’s forgotten you. You don’t have enough faith. You didn’t pray correctly. You didn’t pray enough. You don’t read your Bible enough. God is far away. God is hiding from you. He has orphans in Africa to worry about, he doesn’t have time for you. You’re not spiritual enough. 

You don’t have to listen to that garbage. You don’t even have to respond to him. He’s defeated and he knows it. When those temptations come in and he starts accusing you of your sin and your past, just open to Psalm 9 verse 6 [ 017-1 ] and read this outloud – THE ENEMY HAS COME TO ETERNAL RUIN! Thank you, Lord Jesus! The end. And then you can go to Chapter 10, verse 17, and say, Lord Jesus, this says you have heard the desire of the humble and will strengthen their hearts, so would you do that in me today? 

[ 018-1 ] You can entertain the lie, despair, or fake it til you make it – or you can once again turn to the gospel and see that right there in that tension is where Jesus meets us. Right there in the middle. He put himself in our shoes so that when we cry out to God, why are you hiding! Why are you so far away! Jesus, who is seated right next to the Father can say, hey Dad, I know what they mean. I’ve been there. Remember when I said from the cross, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? That’s a tough place to be. So until the day you get rid of evil completely, Father, God, would you strengthen their hearts? Would you open the eyes of faith in them so they aren’t afraid? 

And your heavenly Father who is so full of love will do what he has promised.