February 17: Psalm 9
Thanksgiving for God’s justice
188.8.131.52 St. Denio (Immortal, Invisible)
Foundation (How Firm a Foundation)
I now will give wholehearted thanks to the Lord,
And all of Your marvelous works will record.
In You will be glad and exultingly cry,
And praise to Your name will I sing, O Most High.
When backward my foes were all turned in despair,
They stumbled and perished because You were there.
For You have defended my judgment and cause;
You sat in just judgment upholding Your laws.
You chided the nations, the wicked destroyed;
Their names You erased and forever made void.
The foe is consumed, is completely erased,
Their cities destroyed and their mem’ry effaced.
The Lord will eternally sit on His throne,
Establishing it for His judgment alone.
In righteousness He’ll judge the world from His seat,
And unto all peoples shall equity mete.
The Lord is a stronghold, a lofty strong tower,
For all the oppressed in their troubles’ dark hour.
Those knowing Your name, Lord, trust You for Your grace;
You have not forsaken those seeking Your face.
Sing praise to the Lord, who in Zion does dwell;
Among all the peoples His great doings tell.
When blood He avenges, His mem’ry is clear;
The cry of the poor never fades from His ear.
Lord, see what I suffer from malice and hate;
Have mercy! O lift me away from death’s gate;
That I with the daughter of Zion may voice
Your praises, and in Your salvation rejoice.
The nations are sunk in the pit they prepared;
Their foot in the net which they hid is ensnared.
The Lord by His judgment has made Himself known,
He by their own works has the wicked o’er-thrown.
The wicked to death’s dark abode shall be brought,
And all of the nations who God have forgot.
Forgotten no longer the cause of the weak,
Nor perished forever the hope of the meek.
Rise, Lord, that mere man may not make himself strong;
Let nations be judged in Your presence for wrong.
Strike terror within them, O Lord; always then
Let nations know truly that they are mere men.
The opening lines of this psalm introduce two ideas crucial to the praying of all the psalms: the heart and storytelling – “I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonders.” First, the heart: “I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart.” The key to the proper praying of the psalms is purity of heart. Psalmody involves prayer from one’s central core, a heart characterized by wholeness. To pray with understanding in the deeper spirit of the psalms requires walking “the blameless path,” living with an undivided heart. To give oneself over to psalmody as the skeletal frame of the life of prayer, therefore, is inseparable from the life of sustained spiritual effort to purify one’s heart. Second, storytelling: “I will tell of all your wonders.” A major motif of the Psalter is formed of the ‘magnalia Dei,’ the great wonders that God has wrought. These wonders are forever set in review throughout the psalms: our creation from nothingness, the Lord’s constant provision for our lives, His promises with respect to our final destiny, His covenant with our forefathers and its fulfillment in Christ the Savior… The “all your wonders,” then, has reference to the great mysteries of our redemption: the Incarnation, the atoning Passion and Death, the glorious Resurrection and Ascension, the sending forth of the Holy Spirit, and the founding of the Church. These manifestations of God’s grace are the substance of the narrative inherent in the psalms. Finally, Psalm 9 is dominated by the image of the divine throne. In this psalm, the judgment throne of God is the real and final arbiter before which all events in this world, especially the great moral and spiritual conflicts of man’s history, are summoned with a view to their final assessment. (Reardon, p. 17-18)