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The ABC’s of Trust

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 9–10

Psalms 9 and 10 remind us that we need to regularly recall God’s past blessings. Doing so, gives us assurance for the present and the future, and that is needed, especially when current situations do not seem to reflect God’s justice and concern.


I read the other day of little Susie, who was learning her ABC’s in kindergarten. When she came home from school, she was ready to play outside, but there were some chores that stood in the way, and her mother wasn’t budging. Finally, out of frustration, Susie clenched her fists and shouted, “A-B-C-D-E-F-G!” Well, who can argue with that? She took what she had learned and put it to good use—even though it didn’t make much sense.

I find it interesting that David’s frustration here in Psalm 9 includes the use of the alphabet. He uses the consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet to start each new stanza. Now, I don’t think David was yelling at God. He was more than likely using this as a way to help people memorize the psalm.

There is a superscription here—a heading, so to speak—and it seems to apply to both Psalms 9 and 10, indicating they were sung as a single song.

The heading reads, “According to Muth-Labben.” Literally, this means “to the tune of ‘The Death of the Son.’” And we are not exactly sure what David had in mind.

What we do know is that David begins here by making a promise to praise the Lord. Verse 1 reads, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

David goes on to recount some of them. Note verses 4-5: “You have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. You have rebuked the nations.”

It is a great idea to keep a running tab in your heart of God’s grace in your life. We tend to carve our disappointments in stone and write our blessings in the sand. Keep a journal; write down those blessings. Remember the goodness of God yesterday; it will encourage you when you face something difficult today.

In verses 7 through 10, David praises the Lord for being righteous and trustworthy, and he invites everybody to sing along with him:

Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. (verses 11-12)

Now, having praised God for who He is and what He has done in the past, David’s heart is ready to ask the Lord for something that has been on his mind from the beginning—and that is deliverance from his enemies.

He writes in verse 13: “Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me.” Then he says in verses 19-20:

Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men!

People tend to strut around the earth—especially those in power. David asks the Lord to remind them that they are mere mortals and ultimately accountable to God.

Psalm 9 uses the first half of the Hebrew alphabet, with a new letter beginning each new stanza. And now, Psalm 10 takes up the last half of the alphabet. Again, more than likely, this was an aid to memorizing this song to the Lord.

Now as we take up Psalm 10, David rehearses his concern that the world seems to be against the Lord. And he wants the Lord to do something about it. He says in verse 1, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

In other words, the wicked seem to be getting away with it. David wants God to step in and address the situation. So, he describes the character of these people, and he starts with the arrogance of the wicked.

“In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor,” he writes in verse 2. And in verse 4, he observes, “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek [the Lord]; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’”

David says their defiance shows up in their faces—their literal countenance. It has been said that a person’s face reveals the condition of his or her soul. And I believe that is true. Worry, anger, frustration, and arrogance have a way of shaping a person’s countenance.

Abraham Lincoln was once asked to appoint a certain individual to an important position, and he declined, saying, “I don’t like his face.” The person who was suggesting this candidate argued, “A man isn’t responsible for his face.” Lincoln replied, “Every man over forty years of age is responsible for his face.” He believed that by that age, what is on the inside has begun to show up on the outside.[1]

Now here in verses 7 through 10, the wicked person’s oppression of others is highlighted. David writes:

His mouth is filled with cursing . . . under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages . . . he murders the innocent. . . . The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.

Verse 11 adds concerning the wicked, “He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.’” Wicked people have concluded that since God has not acted in judgment, He will never act in judgment; so, they can continue to do whatever they want.

Oh, but David writes here in verse 14: “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation.” In other words, “Lord, you know all about their sin; you have taken note of all their wickedness.”

It's interesting that the word for “evildoer” used in verse 15 refers to someone who breaks up everything that is right and good. This sinner is intent on destroying everything that is good and decent. The Greek translation of this Hebrew word is ponēros. This word is used in the Bible for all sorts of evil and corruption. Some believe our word pornography is derived from it. [2]

David’s complaint here is just what I have voiced and probably you have as well: “Lord, it looks like they’re getting away with all their evil—their immorality, their pornography. They want to destroy everything that’s good and right.”

Throughout this psalm, David has been anxious and frustrated, but in the last few verses, he turns the corner and reminds us that even when God is silent, He is still sovereign—still in control. David sings here:

The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (verses 16-18)

Psalms 9 and 10 reveal that while wickedness seems to run rampant and the judgment never shows up, God’s judgment is coming, and it is right on schedule some time in the future. In the meantime, we can trust Him today. Even when God seems to be absent, He is not asleep.

So, here is a song to sing that will encourage your worship and fuel your faith. And by the way, we believers are sinners too, but by coming to faith in Jesus Christ, who suffered the judgment we deserved there on the cross, we are safe in God’s care—even today—through Jesus Christ, our King, our Lord, and our Savior.

[1] John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Volume One (Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 81.

[2] Ibid., 84.

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