Psalms 9–11: Sovereign & Faithful

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 4: Wednesday

“If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”
Psalm 11:3 LSB

Today’s Bible reading is Psalm 9–11, and these psalms echo the recurring themes of righteousness and wickedness, prayers of praise and cries for help, and affirmation of God’s character and care.

What do these recurring themes teach us?

When we praise God and then turn around and face conflict, we are not living an abnormal life. This is part of living in a world that is in rebellion against God, and the psalms reflect that.

The psalms give us an example and a voice for our thoughts and feelings. The heartfelt praise and heartfelt pleas for deliverance in the psalms are eloquent and deep. They gives us words that perhaps we could not find for ourselves or might even be afraid to express to God.

The psalms teach us who God is. As I wrote in my first post on the Psalms, they give us words that even as they express our deep-felt emotions, do not let our feelings pull us away from God, but teach us to be confident in Him and praise Him in all the times of our lives. They draw us to Him in worship and trust as they witness to Him.

In the Psalms we see God’s compassion and care for us. There are numerous times when we do not understand our circumstances nor do we understand why God has not yet answered our prayers or delivered us. Face to face with things that are unfathomable to us, the Psalms tell us He is God and that He cares for us even in our lowest moments when we feel abandoned.

David was a man after God’s own heart; he was a man loved God. In the psalms we read his poetry of praise and repentance, and we also find him bringing his grief, fear, and anxiety to God.

Psalm 9 is one of David’s psalms. Look at how he begins the opening stanza:

I will give thanks to Yahweh with all my heart;
I will recount all Your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1–2 LSB

I will…, I will…, I will…, I will... In the rest of the psalm David proceeds to do this.

In the second stanza, 9:3–6, David speaks of his enemies and the nations, and recounts what God has done:

For You have maintained my justice and my cause;
You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
Psalm 9:4 LSB

In the third stanza, 9:7–10, David speaks of who God is. Here is reassurance both that God is sovereign and that He cares for His people in their distress.

But Yahweh abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will render justice for the peoples with equity.
Yahweh also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of distress;
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Psalm 9:7–10 LSB

In the fourth stanza, 9:11–16, David exults in God, sings His praises, and gives thanks to Yahweh with all his heart. The themes of God’s sovereignty and personal care are interwoven in these verses as David recounts what God has done, and asks for God’s help.

Sing praises to Yahweh, who abides in Zion;
Declare among the peoples His acts.
Psalm 9:11 LSB

In the fifth and final stanza, 9:17–20, David closes by looking to what God will do in judging the wicked and caring for the afflicted, and asking God to do that.

Between being judged by his family and fleeing for his life multiple times, David knew a great deal about loneliness and abandonment. These threads are found in Psalm 9 as he witnesses to us of Yahweh, telling us He is constanct and trustworthy, and will never forsake or forget us.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek You.
For He who requires blood remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.
Psalm 9:10, 12, 18 LSB

At this moment in your life what do you need to be reminded of about God? That He is sovereign over all the world? That He personally cares for you in your distress? That He will not forsake you or forget you? What do those you know need to be reassured about God? Pray and bring these things before the living God who is sovereign, and who is there for you: a faithful father to the fatherless.

Psalm 10 opens with the psalmist in distress.

Why do You stand afar off, O Yahweh?
Why do You hide
Yourself in times of distress?
Psalm 10:1 LSB

There are verses in this psalm that echo Asaph’s emotions in Psalm 73 as the wicked in their prosperity and arrogance are described. There is also a cry to God not to forget him. Emotions go back and forth, don’t they?

Arise, O Yahweh; O God, lift up Your hand.
Do not forget the afflicted.
Psalm 10:12 LSB

Derek Kidner writes,

“The absence of a title to Psalm 10 supports the view that it runs on from Psalm 9, and this is strengthened by the presence of a fragmentary acrostic, begun in Psalm 9 and concluded in Psalm 10.1 But the mood is so changed at 10:1 to leave the impression that these are in fact two psalms, written as companion pieces to complement one another, concerned as they are with twin realities of a fallen world; the certain triumph of God and the present, if short-lived, triumphing of the wicked.”2

The words carry us through the psalmist’s feelings to affirmation of who God is, and end with:

O Yahweh, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will cause Your ear to give heed
To give justice to the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.
Psalm 10:17–18 LSB

In His amazing love for us, God cares for our suffering, torn hearts by including poetry such as this in His Word.

In Psalm 11, David asks,

In Yahweh I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, “Flee
as a bird to your mountain;
For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”
Psalm 11:1–3 LSB

What a question to ask! World events or personal distress can leave us feeling as if the very foundations of our lives are crumbling. Kidner titles Psalm 10, “Panic and Stability,” and writes,

“This is a psalm that comes straight from a crisis. It opens with a spirited retort to some demoralizing advice, and goes on to show what is the real scale and pattern of events, and what is more prized than safety.

…It is hard to know which are the words of David’s advesers, after verse 1, and which, if any, are his own reflections (NEB, for example, closes the quotation after verse 2, but RSV after verse 3). In either case they go deep. For an answer David will look up and see the immense realities that overshadow these events.”3

David answers the question of verse 3, If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? with the God who is righteous:

Yahweh is in His holy temple; Yahweh’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
Yahweh tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
May He rain snares upon the wicked;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
For Yahweh is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.
Psalm 11:4–7 LSB

Kidner states,

“The psalm ends, as it began, with the Lord, whose character as righteous answers all the fear of 3a and the frustration of 3b.”4

In Yahweh I take refuge;
For Yahweh is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.
Psalm 11:1a, 7 LSB

Yahweh will not forget His own: The upright will behold His face.

In national and personal times of distress, when the wicked run rampant, the praise and pleas of these psalms assure us and witness to us that God is sovereign and that God is faithful. He will judge the nations and the wicked; He will care for us and never forget or forsake us.


For a brief overview of the structure and poetry of Psalms see my post, The Five Books of Psalms.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Round Building at Sparta: Gardneca. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
1Derek Kidner, Psalm 1–72 (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1973) 68.
“Ps. 9 has most of the first 11 lietters of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet as the initials of alternate verses; but Ps. 10, after beginning with the 12th letter, drops the alphabetic scheme until verses 12–18 where the last four letters appear.”
2,3,4Derek Kidner, Psalm 1–72 (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1973) 68–69, 72–73, 74.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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