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Psalm 9 - We Will Remember the God Who Remembers

Summer in the Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:26
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Psalm 9 teaches us to praise God in remembrance of his character and deeds - specifically for the just punishment of his enemies and his remembrance of the oppressed. Instead of forgetting our humble human position, we praise God for his mercy toward us and long for the day when he will bring full and final judgment to those who forget Him.

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Turn to Psalm 9
Interestingly, if we were using the Greek translation of the Old Testament, or Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Translation or the Roman Catholic Bible, this would be the last time until Psalm 148 that I would tell you to turn to a psalm number and they’d match up.
That is because Psalm 9 & 10 are combined in all of those translations. The reasons for that are a few:
no superscription to Psalm 10 (unusual)
acrostic (half in each)
similar vocabulary
But there are some equally good reason why we have the numbering we currently have in our English bibles.
the acrostic pattern is incomplete
they are separate in the Hebrew text
the themes are pretty stark in their differences - one being a praise hymn and one being a lament
So we’re going to take them up as two separate psalms - they’ll be the last two psalms we’ll study this summer. Then we’ll have two individual sermons from Pastor Allen and Pastor Mark, and then we’ll be picking back up in the book of Exodus and we’ll do a series of messages on Exodus 16-19 that I’m calling “Approaching Sinai...”
But for now, let’s dig into this Psalm and see what God has to say to us through it today...
Psalm 9 ESV
To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. 1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. 3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. 4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. 5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. 7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. 9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. 11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 13 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, 14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. 15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah 17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. 18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. 19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! 20 Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
pray
Psalm 9 teaches us to praise God in remembrance of his character and deeds - specifically for the just punishment of his enemies and his remembrance of the oppressed and afflicted. Instead of forgetting our humble human position, we praise God for his mercy toward us and long for the day when he will bring full and final judgment to those who have forgotten Him.
In broad strokes, this psalm can be divided in basically two sections. The first section is David’s praise of God for past deliverance (in verses 1-12), and the second is David’s prayer to God anticipating future judgment of God’s enemies.
But in thinking about how to divide up this text and share it with you, as I was meditating on it and praying through it, I noticed that there are six times in this psalm, either implicitly or explicitly where we hear language of remembering, recounting, or forgetting. I’ve chosen to break up the outline with that theme of remembrance. Hence, our title: We Will Remember the God Who Remembers
So let’s take a look at Psalm 9 through this lens of remembrance.
First of all this psalm teaches us to...

1) We remember God’s character and deeds in joyful praise.

Psalm 9:1–2 ESV
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Are you familiar with the hymn, “Count Your Blessings…?”
David says “I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” He is remembering all of God’s goodness toward him in past deliverance and blessings. And do you note how he is exhorting himself to do so?
He says I WILL give thanks to the Lord. I WILL recount. I WILL be glad, and I WILL sing praise.
Sometimes, if we’re honest we simply do not feel like praising God. In our sin, and sometimes our physical exhaustion, we are lethargic and unmotivated. But the exercise of our will to remember God’s character and deeds not only brings relief to our troubled souls, it deepens our trust in God’s ability to meet the challenges we are currently facing.
Friends, has God been good to you? Rehearse it in your heart and mind and with a song of praise and adoration. David says I will give thanks with my WHOLE heart. Don’t give yourself halfway to the praise of God. Engage your heart and your mind and your strength in praising him for all he has done for you - REMEMBER his holy, just, merciful and loving character. RECALL the cross of calvary, and the number of times God has spared you from disaster in your own life and blessed you so abundantly. This is right and it is fitting.
In verse two David says I will be glad and exult in you.
What do you exult in?
We all praise and exult in something! C.S. Lewis struggled for a long time with the idea of a God who would command our praise. It seemed a little selfish and petty for this great God to desire our worship. But then he came to realize that our praise of God is actually the consummation of our delight in him. He wrote [QUOTE]
“The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers praising their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars. [He said] My whole, more general difficulty, about the praise of God depended on absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.
… I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. [END QUOTE]”
Being glad in God can’t help but overflow into exulting in God. When you have found Him as incredibly valuable, you can’t help but overflow into praise of him.
One last thing to notice is that the remembrance and exultation takes on a specific form in the end of verse two! Christians are a singing people! We sing! People sing when they are overjoyed and their soul is thrilled in what they are beholding. The time when we couldn’t gather together in person made me all the more thankful for corporate worship. At home, in your car, on a walk, and of course as we gather - we SING God’s praises in thankful remembrance.
But notice secondly, that David’s praise of God has a specific content in this psalm. He says that

2) We remember God’s presence and justice to silence his enemies with eternal punishment.

Psalm 9:3–8 ESV
3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. 4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. 5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. 7 But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.
I found James Montgomery Boice’s commentary helpful here, because while the context of this psalm is David and God’s expulsion of his enemies, we too can celebrate the God who justly dealt with our enemies. He writes:
We cannot imagine an identical situation involving ourselves. We are not kings or queens. Most of us have not been charged with defending our land from foreign enemies. Moreover, even though we might have real enemies in some area of our lives, we would not want God utterly to destroy them, blotting out their name from the earth, as David says God did here. We are instructed rather to pray for our enemies and to do good to those who use us wrongly (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27–36).
But there is one area in which we can echo David’s words wholeheartedly, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ’s victory over Satan. Satan is our great spiritual enemy, a ruthless enemy. But Jesus has defeated him. Satan is active, yet he is a defeated foe; we can praise God for that.
At this point, while I was preparing this message, I wondered how often we take time to consider and praise God for this? We often think about God’s love and grace, and David will praise God for those things, but is our mindful praise to God balanced? Do we praise God enough for his justice in dealing rightly with sin? The theme of God’s justice in judgment and punishing sin HUGELY important if you have experienced oppression or injustice! You simply cannot overstate the importance of full and final justice being served!
I read this week about a 93 year old man who was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder by the Hamburg state court in Germany. That is equal to the number of people believed to have been killed at Stutthof concentration camp, where he served as a guard in the final months of World War II. He also was convicted as an accessory to attempted murder. Obviously justice cannot be served in the remaining years of this man’s life. But God’s eternal justice will prevail - either if this man places his trust in Jesus Christ to have paid the penalty of justice on his behalf, or in his own eternal punishment for sin in hell.
Verses 7 and 8 promise that the Lord sits enthroned forever and he never fails to execute righteous justice.
By nature of that righteous justice, God is also a refuge for the oppressed and afflicted. The way Psalm 9 says it is that God remembers them providing strong protection for them. He is mindful of them and does not forget about them in their struggle.

3) God remembers the oppressed and afflicted with strong protection.

Psalm 9:9–12 ESV
9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. 11 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
I’m afraid that some of us here, myself included, live lives that cannot begin to comprehend the kind of challenges that other people face. Whether it be the challenges refugees and migrant workers face, or living in cyclical poverty, or being trafficked for sexual exploitation, or facing oppression based on the color of our skin. But this psalm invites us to praise the Lord for the strength he provides afflicted people.
My heart was heavy this week as I considered the affliction of the people of Beirut. The economy in Lebanon was already extraordinarily bad. Their currency had already lost 70-80% of its value before the blast. But now the explosion has left some 300,000 people homeless and resulted in the resignation of the entire government, with civil unrest and uncertainty surrounding the Lebanese people.
This psalm tells us that God does not forget - he REMEMBERS the cry of those who are afflicted. And a psalm like this should remind us that as Christ followers, we too are to be mindful of and care for those who are afflicted. That’s why I’m grateful to be a Southern Baptist. Things like what happened in Beirut can seem so distant and can make us feel powerless to help. But Send Relief, which is a joint arm of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention is on the ground in Beirut providing Bottled water, food boxes, and cooking supplies, Bedding, clothing, gas, and temporary housing, and providing Assistance for first aid and medical expenses. Your gifts to the church and through our cooperative program giving is ministering to the afflicted in Beirut right now. And if you’d like to make a special gift today you can just go to sendrelief.org/beirut
At this point in the psalm, if you’ll recall, there is a major shift from remembering God’s past deliverances to praying for God’s future deliverance. The focus shifts from praise to prayer. But even David’s prayer for God’s help involves a promise to remember and celebrate God’s mercy and grace in saving him. That is all laid in direct contrast to the wicked whose evil devices will backfire on them because they have failed to remember God’s presence.
So we say fourthly,

4) We will remember God’s grace and mercy, but the wicked forget God’s presence.

Psalm 9:13–17 ESV
13 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, 14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. 15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah 17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
As we’ve seen before in our study of the psalms, David’s approach to God is entirely based on his understanding of God’s grace and God’s merciful salvation. David is concerned not only in recounting God’s past deliverances in praise, but he looks forward to and longs for the day when he will once again recount the praises of God in salvation from his enemies.
The use of the perfect tense in verses 15 (where it says the nations HAVE sunk) into the pit they have made shows that there is a complete confidence in God’s expected victory. It’s like the song in Revelation 18 that says “fallen, fallen is Babylon the great...” - there’s no doubt in David’s mind that the Lord will execute full and final judgment on those who he says “forget” God!
John Howe said in the 17th century that to exclude God out of our thoughts and not to let him have a place there, not to mind, nor think upon God, is the greatest wickedness of the thoughts that can be. You may not be able to call someone a drunk, or a slanderer or an oppressor; yet if you can say he will forget God, or that he lives all his days never minding nor thinking upon God, you say enough to speak him under wrath, and to turn him into hell without remedy.
You may recall that Romans 1:18 says..
Romans 1:18 ESV
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
It then goes on to say that one of the ways we are ungodly is we do not have God in our thoughts! We forget him.
Romans 1:28 ESV
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
Forgetfulness seems like a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon a person who lives oblivious to the presence of God.
The contrast here could not be more clear between the godly and the wicked. Whereas David desires to recount and remember God at every turn both for past deliverances and in present trouble expecting future salvation from His great God, the wicked suppress the knowledge of God and forget him. They will go down to the grave or sheol where Psalm 88:5 says they themselves will be forgotten.
This creates a stark contrast with what David writes in verse 18! While the wicked will go to a place where they are no longer remembered because they did not remember God, the needy and poor (by comparison) will not be forgotten by God.

5) God will remember the needy and give hope to the poor.

Psalm 9:18 ESV
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
Charles Spurgeon said, the Lord’s people are a humbled people, afflicted, emptied, sensible of need, driven to a daily attendance on God, daily begging of him, and living upon the hope of what is promised;” such persons may have to wait, but they shall find that they do not wait in vain.
The reformer, Martin Luther’s last words were, “We are beggars, this is true.”
Jesus said
Matthew 5:3 ESV
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Even with our own children, we will make them wait in order to give them the best thing at the best time and in the best manner. And so it is with God our father. We, though poor and needy for a time, can entrust ourselves to a faithful Father who will remember us and never forget his love toward us. Our waiting is for our benefit - so as to receive the reward of the kingdom in its fulness in due time. Don’t ever forget your inheritance Christian! Remember it, because you are REMEMBERED!
How can I be so confident?
Romans 8:32 ESV
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
We can take confidence in the God who remembers us - he has given us a deposit - a guarantee of that inheritance through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the final verses of Psalm 9, David calls God to action - to render judgment now - and properly put evildoers in their place - where hopefully they will remember their own fragile human position

6) God’s enemies need to remember their fragile human position.

Psalm 9:19–20 ESV
19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! 20 Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
David’s call for justice is not one that is wishing any sort of undue harm to his enemies. He is merely invoking God to deal properly with their sin, and to put them in a proper place of fear of Him. They must remember that they are mere mortals and that God is God!
It is only from that place of proper humility and fear of God that anyone will enter into a right relationship with their creator and their king.
Our weakness as humans, characterized by death and illness and limitations, must always lead us into proper fear of the Lord - respect for his holiness and justice. And only from an awareness in that place can we come to understand our genuine need for God! He is the giver of all life and he offers the remedy to our own sinful rebellion against his good and just laws!
When a person comes to understand that they have rebelled against God and against his rule in their lives, then and ONLY then can they come in humble submission to him and receive his salvation.
David GOT it - in verse 14 of this psalm he says I want to recall and retell how YOU have saved me. How YOU were merciful to me, and how YOU lifted me from the state of my own affliction.
And if you’re here today and the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Word, has made you aware of your humanity - and of your need for forgiveness and restoration to a right relationship with God, I pray that you would repent of ignoring and forgetting God in your life, and turn to the only way of salvation that God has provided for poor and needy beggars like us: Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 ESV
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
You see, dear friends, the eternal son of God and second person of the trinity became a human being to demonstrate that God had not forgotten the poor and the oppressed...
Luke 4:16–21 ESV
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
And Jesus’s life of obedience, sacrificial death in the stead of those who trust in him, and his resurrection are what give us that eternal hope that he will one day judge this world in righteousness, rule it with justice and remember those who can never forget his loving-kindness toward them.
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