This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 9:1-6

Wholehearted Devotion

(H) For the director of the choir, to the tune, “Death of the Son,” a psalm of David. (1) I will praise you, Yahweh, with all my heart. I will recount all your wonderful acts. (2) I will rejoice and exult in you. I will make music to your name, O Most High. (3) My enemies turn their backs. They stumble and perish at your presence, (4) for you have maintained my right and my cause. You have sat on your throne judging righteously. (5) You have rebuked the nations. You have destroyed the wicked. You have wiped out their name forever and ever. (6) O enemy, endless desolations have consumed (you). You uprooted their cities. The very memory of them has perished.

In the first paragraph of this psalm, David devotes the first two verses to praising Yahweh and the next four to describing how the God of justice has dealt with his enemies. David uses four consecutive “I will” clauses to declare how he purposes to worship, a helpful portrayal of how believers everywhere can effectively praise Yahweh: directly ascribing heartfelt praise to Yahweh (vs. 1a), recounting his mighty works (vs. 1b), rejoicing in knowing such a great God (vs. 2a), and using music as a vehicle of praise (vs. 2b).

In the next four verses, David turns his attention to Yahweh’s dealing with his enemies. Yahweh’s presence causes them to retreat in confusion (vs. 3). Yahweh’s justice protects those whom they seek to victimize (vs. 4). Yahweh’s rebuke destroys them and any memory of them (vs. 5). They are left desolate, their cities uprooted, gone without a trace (vs. 6).

I.   Declaring Yahweh’s praise  (1 & 2)
II.  Describing how Yahweh deals with our enemies  (3-6)

The justice of Yahweh which destroys the godless and protects the godly deserves our highest praise.

The first verse of Psalm 9 contains one repetition in Hebrew, the word translated “all.” With this word David accomplishes two things. He sets forth how he praises Yahweh, “with all my heart,” and why he praises Yahweh, “(for) all your wonderful acts.” In essence, it is “all of me for all you have done for me.”

To get an idea of what wholehearted devotion looks like we should consider the story of David returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after it had been captured by the Philistines (2 Sam. 6). There we read: “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before Yahweh with all his might while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of Yahweh with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (6:14 & 15). David so abandoned himself to rejoicing in Yahweh that his wife, Michel, sarcastically commented: “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” David’s response: “It was before Yahweh” (6:20 & 21). His worship was intended exclusively for God, not for his wife’s eyes nor for the eyes of anyone else who happened to be present. When it came to his devotion to Yahweh, others’ opinions mattered little to the king. Does this mean that we are free to act in any way we desire when we worship?

Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians wrote about the importance of propriety in public worship: “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Cor. 14:40). How do we reconcile this admonition with David’s abandoning himself to such joyous celebration in 2 Samuel? Somehow, we need to find the right balance. On the one hand, our worship should be a wholehearted, spontaneous expression of joy while, on the other hand, our gatherings for worship should be conducted with an awareness of how our actions may impact fellow worshipers and any unbelievers in attendance. 

An answer to this dilemma lies not so much in focusing on the specifics, the ways in which we worship or on what others think of us when we worship. Rather, our attention should be centered on the God we worship, asking how we can please him with the spirit, “All of me for all you have done for me.” The Danish theologian, Søren Kierkegaard, suggested that when we worship, we should consider ourselves actors on a stage performing for an “audience of one.” When our hearts are preoccupied with the only one who truly merits our devotion, our actions are more likely to be pleasing to him and, hopefully, encouraging to all those who happen to be present.

Psalm 9:7-10

Psalm 8