Psalm 9 – “Acrostic Petition Part I: May God Judge the People”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist praises God’s integrity and asks him to punish the enemy and support the needy.

II. Photo
God punishes the enemy: “The enemy is no more — ruins everlasting; [God] has torn down their cities; their very names are lost.” (v. 7)

III. Select Verses    
6-8: You blast the nations; You destroy the wicked; You blot out their name forever. The enemy is no more — ruins everlasting; You have torn down their cities; their very names are lost. But the LORD abides forever; He has set up His throne for judgment;
10-11: The LORD is a haven for the oppressed, a haven in times of trouble.  Those who know Your name trust You, for You do not abandon those who turn to You, O LORD.
14-15: Have mercy on me, O LORD; see my affliction at the hands of my foes, You who lift me from the gates of death, so that in the gates of Fair Zion I might tell all Your praise, I might exult in Your deliverance.
18: Let the wicked be in Sheol, all the nations who ignore God!
20-21: Rise, O LORD! Let not men have power; let the nations be judged in Your presence. Strike fear into them, O LORD; let the nations know they are only men. Selah.

IV. Outline
1. Superscription
2-3. Invocation, vow
4-11. Praise: God punishes the enemy and helps the oppressed
12. Call to praise
13. Rationale
14. Petition
15. Rationale/vow
16-17. Acknowledgment of divine response
18. Imprecation of enemies
19. Rationale
20-21. Petition/imprecation

V. Comment
Because it is an acrostic poem, Psalm 9 does not fit neatly into any of the form critical categories. Gerstenberger writes, “Most scholars agree that Psalms 9 and 10 originally constituted one unified poem. The LXX [= Septuagint] , from the second century B.C., counts them together as Psalm 9. The original unity of the thirty-eight verses (excluding superscription) with forty-one poetic lines is attested by the overall organization as an Acrostic Psalm (see Psalms 25 and 119): every second line of the MT [= Masoretic Text] begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 9/10, however, follows the system somewhat imperfectly. With twenty-one letters to the alphabet the poem needed at least forty-two lines. The stichoi opening with d, m, n, s, and s [= d, m, n, s, x]
are entirely missing, or rather, unrecognizable. Other lines are irregular in
length. The passage most uncertain is at the juncture of the two parts (Pss
9:18-10:11). On the other hand, the beginning and end of the original poem (Pss
9:2-17 and 10:12-18), comprising the initial letters ‘ through t [=a through f] and q through t [= q through t], have been well preserved.” (72-73)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
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