Title. To the Chief Musician upon Muth-labben, a Psalm of David. The meaning of this title is very doubtful. It may refer to the tune to which the Psalm was to be sung, so Wilcocks and others think; or it may refer to a musical instrument now unknown, but common in those days; or it may have a reference to Ben, who is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:18, as one of the Levitical singers. If either of these conjectures should be correct, the title of Muth-Labben has no teaching for us, except it is meant to show us how careful David was that in the worship of God, all things should be done according to due order. From a considerable company of learned witnesses we gather that the title will bear a meaning far more instructive, without being fancifully forced: it signifies a Psalm concerning the death of the Son. The Chaldee has, “concerning the death of the Champion who went out between the camps, “referring to Goliath of Gath, or some other Philistine, on account of whose death many suppose this Psalm to have been written in after years by David. Believing that out of a thousand guesses this is at least as consistent with the sense of the Psalm as any other, we prefer it; and the more especially so because it enables us to refer it mystically to the victory of the Son of God over the champion of evil, even to enemy of souls (Psalms 9:6). We have here before us most evidently a triumphal hymn; may it strengthen the faith of the militant believer and stimulate the courage of the timid saint, as he sees here The Conqueror, on whose vesture and thigh is the name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Order. Bonar remarks, “The position of the Psalms in their relation to each other is often remarkable.” It is questioned whether the present arrangement of them was the order to which they were given forth to Israel, or whether some later compiler, perhaps Ezra, was inspired to attend to this matter, as well as to other points connected with the canon. Without attempting to decide this point, it is enough to remark that we have proof that the order of the Psalms is as ancient as the completing of the canon, and if so, it seems obvious that the Holy Spirit wished this book to come down to us in its present order. We make these remarks, in order to invite attention to the fact, that as the eighth caught up the last line of the seventh, this ninth Psalm opens with an apparent reference to the eighth: “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee. (Compare Song of Songs 1:4 Revelation 19:7) I will sing to Thy Name, O thou Most High.” Psalms 1-2. As if “The Name, “so highly praised in the former Psalm, were still ringing in the ear of the sweet singer of Israel. And in Psalms 9:10, he returns to it, celebrating their confidence who “know” that “name” as if its fragrance still breathed in the atmosphere around.
Division. The strain so continually changes, that it is difficult to give an outline of it methodically arranged: we give the best we can make. From Psalms 9:1-6 is a song of jubilant thanksgiving; from
Psalms 9:7-12, there is a continued declaration of faith as to the future. Prayer closes the first great division of the Psalm in Psalms 9:13-14. The second portion of this triumphal ode, although much shorter, is parallel in all its parts to the first portion, and is a sort of rehearsal of it. Observe the song for past judgments, Psalms 9:15-16; the declaration of trust in future justice, Psalms 9:17-18; and the closing prayer, Psalms 9:19-20. Let us celebrate the conquests of the Redeemer as we read this Psalm, and it cannot but be a delightful task if the Holy Ghost be with us.
The Treasury of David.
Memories of the past and confidences concerning the future conducted the man of God to the mercy seat to plead for the needs of the present. Between praising and praying he divided all his time. How could he have spent it more profitably? His first prayer is one suitable for all persons and occasions, it breathes a humble spirit, indicates self knowledge, appeals to the proper attributes, and to the fitting person.
Have mercy upon me, O Lord. Just as Luther used to call some texts little bibles, so we may call this sentence a little prayer book; for it has in it the soul and marrow of prayer. It is “multum in parvo”, and like the angelic sword turns every way. The ladder looks to be short, but it reaches from earth to heaven. What a noble title is here given to the Most High.
Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death! What a glorious lift! In sickness, in sin, in despair, in temptation, we have been brought very low, and the gloomy portal has seemed as if it would open to imprison us, but, underneath us were the everlasting arms, and, therefore, we have been uplifted even to the gates of heaven. Trapp quaintly says, “He commonly reserveth his hand for a dead lift, and rescueth those who were even talking of their graves.”
Have mercy upon me, O Lord. The publican’s prayer expounded, commended, presented, and fulfilled.
Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death. Deep distresses, Great deliverances. Glorious exaltations.
The Treasury of David.
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