Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Hymn to the Righteous Judge after a Defeat of Hostile Peoples
Just as Psalm 7 is placed after Psalm 6:1-10 as exemplifying it, so Psalm 9 follows Psalm 8:1-9 as an illustration of the glorifying of the divine name on earth. And what a beautiful idea it is that Psalm 8:1-9, the Psalm which celebrates Jahve's name as being glorious in the earth, is introduced between a Psalm that closes with the words "I will sing of the name of Jahve, the Most High" (Psalm 7:18) and one which begins: "I will sing of Thy name, O Most High!" (Psalm 9:3).
The lxx translates the inscription על־מות לכן by ὑπὲρ τῶν κρυφίων τοῦ υἱοῦ (Vulg. pro occultis filii) as though it were על־עלמות. Luther's rendering is still bolder: of beautiful (perhaps properly: lily-white) youth. Both renderings are opposed to the text, in which על occurs only once. The Targum understands בן of the duellist Goliath ( equals אישׁ הבּנים); and some of the Rabbis regard לבן even as a transposition of נבל: on the death of Nabal. Hengstenberg has revived this view, regarding נבל as a collective designation of all Nabal-like fools. All these and other curious conceits arise from the erroneous idea that these words are an inscription referring to the contents of the Psalm. But, on the contrary, they indicate the tune or melody, and that by means of the familiar words of the song, - perhaps some popular song, - with which this air had become most intimately associated. At the end of Psalm 48:1-14 this indication of the air is simply expressed by על־מוּת. The view of the Jewish expositors, who refer לבּן to the musician בּן mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:18, has, therefore, some probability in its favour. But this name excites critical suspicion. Why may not a well-known song have begun מוּת לבּן "dying (is) to the son...," or (if one is inclined to depart from the pointing, although there is nothing to render this suspicious) מות לבּן "Death makes white?"
Even Hitzig does not allow himself to be misled as to the ancient Davidic origin of Psalm 9 and 10 by the fact of their having an alphabetical arrangement. These two Psalms have the honour of being ranked among the thirteen Psalms which are acknowledge by him to be genuine Davidic Psalms. Thus, therefore, the alphabetical arrangement found in other Psalms cannot, in itself, bring us down to "the times of poetic trifling and degenerated taste." Nor can the freedom, with which the alphabetical arrangement is handled in Psalm 9 and 10 be regarded as an indication of an earlier antiquity than these times. For the Old Testament poets, even in other instances, do not allow themselves to be fettered by forms of this character (vid., on Psalm 145, cf. on Psalm 42:2); and the fact, that in Psalm 9:1 the alphabetical arrangement is not fully carried out, is accounted for otherwise than by the license in which David, in distinction from later poets, indulged. In reality this pair of Psalms shows, that even David was given to acrostic composition. And why should he not be? Even among the Romans, Ennius (Cicero, De Divin. ii. 54 ֗111), who belongs not to the leaden, but to the iron age, out of which the golden age first developed itself, composed in acrostics. And our oldest Germanic epics are clothed in the garb of alliteration, which Vilmar calls the most characteristic and most elevated style that the poetic spirit of our nation has created. Moreover, the alphabetical form is adapted to the common people, as is evident from Augustine's Retract. i. 20. It is not a paltry substitute for the departed poetic spirit, not merely an accessory to please the eye, an outward embellishment - it is in itself indicative of mental power. The didactic poet regards the array of the linguistic elements as the steps by which he leads his pupils up into the sanctuary of wisdom, or as the many-celled casket in which he stores the pearls of the teachings of his wisdom. The lyric writer regards it as the keys on which he strikes every note, in order to give the fullest expression to his feelings. Even the prophet does not disdain to allow the order of the letters to exert an influence over the course of his thoughts, as we see from Nahum 1:3-7.
(Note: This observation is due to Pastor Frohnmeyer of Wrtemberg.)
Therefore, when among the nine
(Note: The Psalterium Brunonis (ed. by Cochleus, 1533) overlooks Psalm 9-10, reckoning only seven alphabetical Psalms.)
alphabetical Psalms (Psalm 9:1, Psalm 10:1, Psalm 25:1, Psalm 34:1, Psalm 37:1, Psalm 111:1, Psalm 112:1, Psalm 119:1, Psalm 145:1) four bear the inscription לדוד (Psalm 9:1, Psalm 25:1, Psalm 34:1, Psalm 145:1), we shall not at once regard them as non-Davidic just because they indicate an alphabetical plan which is more or less fully carried out.
This is not the place to speak of the relation of the anonymous Psalm 10 to Psalm 9, since Psalm 9 is not in any way wanting in internal roundness and finish. It is thoroughly hymnic. The idea that Psalm 9:14 passes from thanksgiving into supplication rests on a misinterpretation, as we shall presently see. This Psalm is a thoroughly national song of thanksgiving for victory by David, belonging to the time when Jahve was already enthroned on Zion, and therefore, to the time after the ark was brought home. Was it composed after the triumphant termination of the Syro-Ammonitish war? - The judgment of extermination already executed, Psalm 9:8., harmonises with what is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:31; and the גוים, who are actually living within the borders of Israel, appear to be Philistines according to the annalistic passage about the Philistine feuds, 2 Samuel 21:15., cf. Psalm 8:1 in connection with 1 Samuel 13:6.
To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David. I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.(Heb.: 9:2-3) In this first strophe of the Psalm, which is laid out in tetrastichs-the normative strophe-the alphabetical form is carried out in the fullest possible way: we have four lines, each of which begins with א. It is the prelude of the song. The poet rouses himself up to a joyful utterance of Jahve's praise. With his whole heart (Psalm 138:1), i.e., all his powers of mind and soul as centred in his heart taking part in the act, will he thankfully and intelligently confess God, and declare His wondrous acts which exceed human desire and comprehension (Psalm 26:7); he will rejoice and be glad in Jahve, as the ground of his rejoicing and as the sphere of his joy; and with voice and with harp he will sing of the name of the Most High. עליון is not an attributive of the name of God (Hitz.: Thine exalted name), but, as it is everywhere from Genesis 14:18-22 onward (e.g., Psalm 97:9), an attributive name of God. As an attributive to שׁמך one would expect to find העליון.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.(Heb.: 9:4-5) The call upon himself to thanksgiving sounds forth, and the ב-strophe continues it by expressing the ground of it. The preposition בּ in this instance expresses both the time and the reason together (as in Psalm 76:10; 2 Chronicles 28:6); in Latin it is recedentibus hostibus meis retro. אחור serves to strengthen the notion of being driven back, as in Psalm 56:10, cf. Psalm 44:11; and just as, in Latin, verbs compounded of re are strengthened by retro. In Psalm 9:4 finite verbs take the place of the infinitive construct; here we have futt. with a present signification, just as in 2 Chronicles 16:7 we find a praet. intended as perfect. For the rendering which Hitzig adopts: When mine enemies retreat backwards, they stumble... is opposed both by the absence of any syntactic indication in Psalm 9:4 of an apodosis (cf. Psalm 27:2); and also by the fact that יכּשׁלוּ is well adapted to be a continuation of the description of שׁוּב אחור (cf. John 18:6), but is tame as a principal clause to the definitive clause בשוב אויבי אחור. Moreover, אחור does not signify backwards (which would rather be אחרנּית Genesis 9:23; 1 Samuel 4:18), but back, or into the rear. The מן of מפּניך is the מן of the cause, whence the action proceeds. What is intended is God's angry countenance, the look of which sets his enemies on fire as if they were fuel (Psalm 21:10), in antithesis to God's countenance as beaming with the light of His love. Now, while this is taking place, and because of its taking place, will be sing praise to God. From Psalm 9:2 we see that the Psalm is composed directly after the victory and while the destructive consequences of it to the vanquished are still in operation. David sees in it all an act of Jahve's judicial power. To execute any one's right, משׁפּט (Micah 7:9), to bring to an issue any one's suit or lawful demand, דּין (Psalm 140:13), is equivalent to: to assist him and his good cause in securing their right. The phrases are also used in a judicial sense without the suffix. The genitive object after these principal words never denotes the person against whom, but the person on whose behalf, the third party steps forward with his judicial authority. Jahve has seated Himself upon His judgment-seat as a judge of righteousness (as in Jeremiah 11:20), i.e., as a judge whose judicial mode of procedure is righteousness, justice,
(Note: Also Proverbs 8:16 is probably to be read צדק כּל־שׁכּטי, with Norzi, according to the Targum, Syriac version, and old Codices; at any rate this is an old various reading, and one in accordance with the sense, side by side with כל־שׁפטי ארץ.)
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.(Heb.: 9:6-7) The strophe with ג, which is perhaps intended to represent ד and ה as well, continues the confirmation of the cause for thanksgiving laid down in Psalm 9:4. He does not celebrate the judicial act of God on his behalf, which he has just experienced, alone, but in connection with, and, as it were, as the sum of many others which have preceded it. If this is the case, then in Psalm 9:6 beside the Ammonites one may at the same time (with Hengstenb.) think of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 8:12), who had been threatened since the time of Moses with a "blotting out of their remembrance" (Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19, cf. Numbers 24:20). The divine threatening is the word of omnipotence which destroys in distinction from the word of omnipotence that creates. רשׁע in close connection with גּוים is individualising, cf. Psalm 9:18 with Psalm 9:16, Psalm 9:17. ועד is a sharpened pausal form for ועד, the Pathach going into a Segol (קטן פתח); perhaps it is in order to avoid the threefold a-sound in לעולם ועד (Ngelsbach 8 extr.). In Psalm 9:7 האויב (with Azla legarme) appears to be a vocative. In that case נתשׁתּ ought also to be addressed to the enemy. But if it be interpreted: "Thou hast destroyed thine own cities, their memorial is perished," destroyed, viz., at the challenge of Israel, then the thought is forced; and if we render it: "the cities, which thou hast destroyed, perished is the remembrance of them," i.e., one no longer thinks of thine acts of conquest, then we have a thought that is in itself awkward and one that finds no support in any of the numerous parallels which speak of a blotting out and leaving no trace behind. But, moreover, in both these interpretations the fact that זכרם is strengthened by המּה is lost sight of, and the twofold masculine זכרם המּה is referred to ערים (which is carelessly done by most expositors), whereas עיר, with but few exceptions, is feminine; consequently זכרם המה, so far as this is not absolutely impossible, must be referred to the enemies themselves (cf. Psalm 34:17; Psalm 109:15). האויב might more readily be nom. absol.: "the enemy - it is at end for ever with his destructions," but חרבּה never has an active but always only a neuter signification; or: "the enemy - ruins are finished for ever," but the signification to be destroyed is more natural for תּמם than to be completed, when it is used of ruinae. Moreover, in connection with both these renderings the retrospective pronoun (חרבותיו) is wanting, and this is also the case with the reading חרבות (lxx, Vulg., Syr.), which leaves it uncertain whose swords are meant. But why may we not rather connect האויב at once with תּמּוּ as subject? In other instances תּמּוּ is also joined to a singular collective subject, e.g., Isaiah 16:4; here it precedes, like הארב in Judges 20:37. חרבות לנצח is a nominative of the product, corresponding to the factitive object with verbs of making: the enemies are destroyed as ruins for ever, i.e., so that they are become ruins; or, more in accordance with the accentuation: the enemy, destroyed as ruins are they for ever. With respect to what follows the accentuation also contains hints worthy of our attention. It does not take נתשׁתּ (with the regular Pathach by Athnach after Olewejored, vid., on Psalm 2:7) as a relative clause, and consequently does not require זכרם המה to be referred back to ערים.
We interpret the passage thus: and cities (viz., such as were hostile) thou hast destroyed (נתשׁ evellere, exstirpare), perished is their (the enemies') memorial. Thus it also now becomes intelligible, why זכרם, according to the rule Ges. 121, 3, is so remarkably strengthened by the addition of המּה (cf. Numbers 14:32; 1 Samuel 20:42; Proverbs 22:19; Proverbs 23:15; Ezekiel 34:11). Hupfeld, whose interpretation is exactly the same as ours, thinks it might perhaps be the enemies themselves and the cities set over against one another. But the contrast follows in Psalm 9:8 : their, even their memorial is perished, while on the contrary Jahve endures for ever and is enthroned as judge. This contrast also retrospectively gives support to the explanation, that זכרם refers not to the cities, but to האויב as a collective. With this interpretation of Psalm 9:7 we have no occasion to read זכרם מהמּה (Targ.), nor זכר מהמּה (Paul., Hitz.). The latter is strongly commended by Job 11:20, cf. Jeremiah 10:2; but still it is not quite admissible, since זכר here is not subjective (their own remembrance) but objective (remembrance of them). But may not ערים perhaps here, as in Psalm 139:20, mean zealots equals adversaries (from עיר fervere, zelare)? We reply in the negative, because the Psalm bears neither an Aramaising nor a North Palestinian impress. Even in connection with this meaning, the harshness of the ערים without any suffix would still remain. But, that the cities that are, as it were, plucked up by the root are cities of the enemy, is evident from the context.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.(Heb.: 9:8-9) Without a trace even of the remembrance of them the enemies are destroyed, while on the other hand Jahve endureth for ever. This strophe is the continuation of the preceding with the most intimate connection of contrast (just as the ב-strophe expresses the ground for what is said in the preceding strophe). The verb ישׁב has not the general signification "to remain" here (like עמד to endure), but just the same meaning as in Psalm 29:10. Everything that is opposed to Him comes to a terrible end, whereas He sits, or (which the fut. implies) abides, enthroned for ever, and that as Judge: He hath prepared His throne for the purpose of judgment. This same God, who has just given proof that He lives and reigns, will by and by judge the nations still more comprehensively, strictly, and impartially. תּכל, a word exclusively poetic and always without the article, signifies first (in distinction from ארץ the body of the earth and אדמה the covering or soil of the earth) the fertile (from יבל) surface of the globe, the οἰκουμένη. It is the last Judgment, of which all preceding judgments are harbingers and pledges, that is intended. In later Psalms this Davidic utterance concerning the future is repeated.
And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.(Heb.: 9:10-11) Thus judging the nations Jahve shows Himself to be, as a second ו-strophe says, the refuge and help of His own. The voluntative with Waw of sequence expresses that which the poet desires for his own sake and for the sake of the result mentioned in Psalm 9:11. משׂגּב, a high, steep place, where one is removed from danger, is a figure familiar to David from the experiences of his time of persecution. דּך (in pause דּך) is properly one who is crushed (from דּכך equals דּכא, דּכה to crush, break in pieces, דקק to pulverize), therefore one who is overwhelmed to the extreme, even to being completely crushed. The parallel is לעתּות בצּרה with the datival ל (as probably also in Psalm 10:1). עתּות from עת (time, and then both continuance, Psalm 81:16, and condition) signifies the public relations of the time, or even the vicissitudes of private life, Psalm 31:16; and בצּרה is not הצּרה with בּ (Bttch.), which gives an expression that is meaninglessly minute ("for times in the need"), but one word, formed from בּצּר (to cut off, Arab. to see, prop. to discern keenly), just like בּקּשׁה ekil from בּקּשׁ, prop. a cutting off, or being cut off, i.e., either restraint, especially motionlessness ( equals בּצּרת, Jeremiah 17:8, plur. בּצּרות Jeremiah 14:1), or distress, in which the prospect of deliverance is cut off. Since God is a final refuge for such circumstances of hopelessness in life, i.e., for those who are in such circumstances, the confidence of His people is strengthened, refreshed, and quickened. They who know His name, to them He has now revealed its character fully, and that by His acts; and they who inquire after Him, or trouble and concern themselves about Him (this is what דּרשׁ signifies in distinction from בּקּשׁ), have now experienced that He also does not forget them, but makes Himself known to them in the fulness of His power and mercy.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.(Heb.: 9:12-13) Thus then the z-strophe summons to the praise of this God who has done, and will still do, such things. The summons contains a moral claim, and therefore applies to all, and to each one individually. Jahve, who is to be praised everywhere and by every one, is called ישׁב ציּון, which does not mean: He who sits enthroned in Zion, but He who inhabiteth Zion, Ges. 138, 1. Such is the name by which He is called since the time when His earthly throne, the ark, was fixed on the castle hill of Jerusalem, Psalm 76:3. It is the epithet applied to Him during the period of the typical kingship of promise. That Jahve's salvation shall be proclaimed from Zion to all the world, even outside Israel, for their salvation, is, as we see here and elsewhere, an idea which throbs with life even in the Davidic Psalms; later prophecy beholds its realisation in its wider connections with the history of the future. That which shall be proclaimed to the nations is called עלילותיו, a designation which the magnalia Dei have obtained in the Psalms and the prophets since the time of Hannah's song, 1 Samuel 2:3 (from עלל, root על, to come over or upon anything, to influence a person or a thing, as it were, from above, to subject them to one's energy, to act upon them).
With כּי, quod, in Psalm 9:13, the subject of the proclamation of salvation is unfolded as to its substance. The praett. state that which is really past; for that which God has done is the assumption that forms the basis of the discourse in praise of God on account of His mighty acts. They consist in avenging and rescuing His persecuted church-persecuted even to martyrdom. The אותם, standing by way of emphasis before its verb, refers to those who are mentioned afterwards (cf. Psalm 9:20): the Chethb calls them עניּים, the Keri ענוים. Both words alternate elsewhere also, the Ker at one time placing the latter, at another the former, in the place of the one that stands in the text. They are both referable to ענה to bend (to bring low, Isaiah 25:5). The neuter signification of the verb ענה equals ענו, Arab.. ‛nâ, fut o., underlies the noun ענו (cf. שׁלו), for which in Numbers 12:3 there is a Ker עניו with an incorrect Jod (like שׁליו Job 21:23). This is manifest from the substantive ענוה, which does not signify affliction, but passiveness, i.e., humility and gentleness; and the noun עני is passive, and therefore does not, like ענו, signify one who is lowly-minded, in a state of ענוה, but one who is bowed down by afflictions, עני. But because the twin virtues denoted by ענוה are acquired in the school of affliction, there comes to be connected with עני - but only secondarily - the notion of that moral and spiritual condition which is aimed at by dispensations of affliction, and is joined with a suffering life, rather than with one of worldly happiness and prosperity, - a condition which, as Numbers 12:3 shows, is properly described by ענו (ταπεινός and πραΰ́ς). It shall be proclaimed beyond Israel, even among the nations, that the Avenger of blood, דּמים דּרשׁ, thinks of them (His דּרשׁים), and has been as earnest in His concern for them as they in theirs for Him. דּמים always signifies human blood that is shed by violence and unnaturally; the plur. is the plural of the product discussed by Dietrich, Abhandl. S. 40. דּרשׁ to demand back from any one that which he has destroyed, and therefore to demand a reckoning, indemnification, satisfaction for it, Genesis 9:5, then absolutely to punish, 2 Chronicles 24:22.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:(Heb.: 9:14-15) To take this strophe as a prayer of David at the present time, is to destroy the unity and hymnic character of the Psalm, since that which is here put in the form of prayer appears in what has preceded and in what follows as something he has experienced. The strophe represents to us how the עניּים (ענוים) cried to Jahve before the deliverance now experienced. Instead of the form חנּני used everywhere else the resolved, and as it were tremulous, form חננני is designedly chosen. According to a better attested reading it is חננני (Pathach with Gaja in the first syllable), which is regarded by Chajug and others as the imper. Piel, but more correctly (Ewald 251, c) as the imper. Kal from the intransitive imperative form חנן. מרוממי is the vocative, cf. Psalm 17:7. The gates of death, i.e., the gates of the realm of the dead (שׁאול, Isaiah 38:10), are in the deep; he who is in peril of death is said to have sunk down to them; he who is snatched from peril of death is lifted up, so that they do not swallow him up and close behind him. The church, already very near to the gates of death, cried to the God who can snatch from death. Its final purpose in connection with such deliverance is that it may glorify God. The form תּהלּתיך is sing. with a plural suffix just like שׂנאתיך Ezekiel 35:11, אשׁמתימו Ezra 9:15. The punctuists maintained (as עצתיך in Isaiah 47:13 shows) the possibility of a plural inflexion of a collective singular. In antithesis to the gates of death, which are represented as beneath the ground, we have the gates of the daughter of Zion standing on high. ציּון is gen. appositionis (Ges. 116, 5). The daughter of Zion (Zion itself) is the church in its childlike, bride-like, and conjugal relation to Jahve. In the gates of the daughter of Zion is equivalent to: before all God's people, Psalm 116:14. For the gates are the places of public resort and business. At this period the Old Testament mind knew nothing of the songs of praise of the redeemed in heaven. On the other side of the grave is the silence of death. If the church desires to praise God, it must continue in life and not die.
That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.(Heb.: 9:16-17) And, as this ט-strophe says, the church is able to praise God; for it is rescued from death, and those who desired that death might overtake it, have fallen a prey to death themselves. Having interpreted the ה-strophe as the representation of the earlier צעקת עניּים we have no need to supply dicendo or dicturus, as Seb. Schmidt does, before this strophe, but it continues the praett. preceding the ח-strophe, which celebrate that which has just been experienced. The verb טבע (root טב, whence also טבל) signifies originally to press upon anything with anything flat, to be pressed into, then, as here and in Psalm 69:3, Psalm 69:15, to sink in. טמנוּ זוּ (pausal form in connection with Mugrash) in the parallel member of the verse corresponds to the attributive עשׂוּ (cf. יפעל, Psalm 7:16). The union of the epicene זוּ with רשׁת by Makkeph proceeds from the view, that זוּ is demonstrative as in Psalm 12:8 : the net there (which they have hidden). The punctuation, it is true, recognises a relative זוּ, Psalm 17:9; Psalm 68:29, but it mostly takes it as demonstrative, inasmuch as it connects it closely with the preceding noun, either by Makkeph (Psalm 32:8; Psalm 62:12; Psalm 142:4; Psalm 143:8) or by marking the noun with a conjunctive accent (Psalm 10:2; Psalm 31:5; Psalm 132:12). The verb לכד (Arabic to hang on, adhere to, IV to hold fast to) has the signification of seizing and catching in Hebrew.
In Psalm 9:17 Ben Naphtali points נודע with ā: Jahve is known (part. Niph.); Ben Asher נודע, Jahve has made Himself known (3 pers. praet. Niph. in a reflexive signification, as in Ezekiel 38:23). The readings of Ben Asher have become the textus receptus. That by which Jahve has made Himself known is stated immediately: He has executed judgment or right, by ensnaring the evil-doer (רשׁע, as in Psalm 9:6) in his own craftily planned work designed for the destruction of Israel. Thus Gussetius has already interpreted it. נוקשׁ is part. Kal from נקשׁ. If it were part. Niph. from יקשׁ the ē, which occurs elsewhere only in a few עע verbs, as נמם liquefactus, would be without an example. But it is not to be translated, with Ges. and Hengst.: "the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands," in which case it would have to be pointed נוקשׁ (3 praet. Niph.), as in the old versions. Jahve is the subject, and the suffix refers to the evil-doer. The thought is the same as in Job 34:11; Isaiah 1:31. This figure of the net, רשׁת (from ירשׁ capere), is peculiar to the Psalms that are inscribed לדוד. The music, and in fact, as the combination הגיון סלה indicates, the playing of the stringed instruments (Psalm 92:4), increases here; or the music is increased after a solo of the stringed instruments. The song here soars aloft to the climax of triumph.
The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.(Heb.: 9:18-19) Just as in Psalm 9:8. the prospect of a final universal judgment was opened up by Jahve's act of judgment experienced in the present, so here the grateful retrospect of what has just happened passes over into a confident contemplation of the future, which is thereby guaranteed. The lxx translates ישׁוּבוּ by αποστραφήτωσαν, Jer. convertantur, a meaning which it may have (cf. e.g., 2 Chronicles 18:25); but why should it not be ἀναστραφήτωσαν, or rather: ἀναστραφήσονται, since Psalm 9:19 shows that Psalm 9:18 is not a wish but a prospect of that which is sure to come to pass? To be resolved into dust again, to sink away into nothing (redactio in pulverem, in nihilum) is man's return to his original condition, - man who was formed from the dust, who was called into being out of nothing. To die is to return to the dust, Psalm 104:29, cf. Genesis 3:19, and here it is called the return to Sheτl, as in Job 30:23 to death, and in Psalm 90:3 to atoms, inasmuch as the state of shadowy existence in Hades, the condition of worn out life, the state of decay is to a certain extent the renewal (Repristination) of that which man was before he came into being. As to outward form לשׁאולה may be compared with לישׁעתה in Psalm 80:3; the ל in both instances is that of the direction or aim, and might very well come before שׁאולה, because this form of the word may signify both ἐν ᾅδου and εἰς ᾅδου (cf. מבּבלה Jeremiah 27:16). R. Abba ben Zabda, in Genesis Rabba cap. 50, explains the double sign of the direction as giving intensity to it: in imum ambitum orci. The heathen receive the epithet of שׁכחי אלהים (which is more neuter than שׁכחי, Psalm 50:22); for God has not left them without a witness of Himself, that they could not know of Him, their alienation from God is a forgetfulness of Him, the guilt of which they have incurred themselves, and from which they are to turn to God (Isaiah 19:22). But because they do not do this, and even rise up in hostility against the nation and the God of the revelation that unfolds the plan of redemption, they will be obliged to return to the earth, and in fact to Hades, in order that the persecuted church may obtain its longed for peace and its promised dominion. Jahve will at last acknowledge this ecclesia pressa; and although its hope seems like to perish, inasmuch as it remains again and again unfulfilled, nevertheless it will not always continue thus. The strongly accented לא rules both members of Psalm 9:19, as in Psalm 35:19; Psalm 38:2, and also frequently elsewhere (Ewald 351, a). אביון, from אבה to wish, is one eager to obtain anything equals a needy person. The Arabic ‛bâ, which means the very opposite, and according to which it would mean "one who restrains himself," viz., because he is obliged to, must be left out of consideration.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.(Heb.: 9:20-21) By reason of the act of judgment already witnessed the prayer now becomes all the more confident in respect of the state of things which is still continually threatened. From י the poet takes a leap to ק which, however, seems to be a substitute for the כ which one would expect to find, since the following Psalm begins with ל. David's קוּמה (Psalm 3:8; Psalm 7:7) is taken from the lips of Moses, Numbers 10:35. "Jahve arises, comes, appears" are kindred expressions in the Old Testament, all of which point to a final personal appearing of God to take part in human history from which He has now, as it were, retired into a state of repose becoming invisible to human eyes. Hupfeld and others wrongly translate "let not man become strong." The verb עזז does not only mean to be or become strong, but also to feel strong, powerful, possessed of power, and to act accordingly, therefore: to defy, Psalm 52:9, like עז defiant, impudent (post-biblical עזּוּת shamelessness). אנושׁ, as in 2 Chronicles 14:10, is man, impotent in comparison with God, and frail in himself. The enemies of the church of God are not unfrequently designated by this name, which indicates the impotence of their pretended power (Isaiah 51:7, Isaiah 51:12). David prays that God may repress the arrogance of these defiant ones, by arising and manifesting Himself in all the greatness of His omnipotence, after His forbearance with them so long has seemed to them to be the result of impotence. He is to arise as the Judge of the world, judging the heathen, while they are compelled to appear before Him, and, as it were, defile before Him (על־פּני), He is to lay מורה on them. If "razor" be the meaning it is equivocally expressed; and if, according to Isaiah 7:20, we associate with it the idea of an ignominious rasure, or of throat-cutting, it is a figure unworthy of the passage. The signification master (lxx, Syr., Vulg., and Luther) rests upon the reading אמת, which we do not with Thenius and others prefer to the traditional reading (even Jerome translates: pone, Domine, terrorem eis); for מורה rof , which according to the Masora is instead of מורא (like מכלה Habakkuk 3:17 for מכלא), is perfectly appropriate. Hitzig objects that fear is not a thing which one lays upon any one; but מורא means not merely fear, but an object, or as Hitzig himself explains it in Malachi 2:5 a "lever," of fear. It is not meant that God is to cause them to be overcome with terror (על), nor that He is to put terror into them (בּ), but that He is to make them (ל( m in no way differing from Psalm 31:4; Psalm 140:6; Job 14:13) an object of terror, from which to their dismay, as the wish is further expressed in Psalm 9:20, they shall come to know (Hosea 9:7) that they are mortal men. As in Psalm 10:12; Psalm 49:12; Psalm 50:21; Psalm 64:6; Genesis 12:13; Job 35:14; Amos 5:12; Hosea 7:2, ידּעוּ is followed by an only half indirect speech, without כּי or אשׁר. סּלה has Dag. forte conj. according to the rule of the אתי מרחיק (concerning which vid., on Psalm 52:5), because it is erroneously regarded as an essential part of the text.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.