281 – Psalm 9 – Gracious Salvation
In the interest of context, it would be good for you to read all twenty verses of Psalm nine, then come back here to take a closer look at verses thirteen and fourteen. These two verses seem pretty straightforward and easy to understand. However, they are worthy of closer examination.
Psalm 9:13-14 (LEB)
13 Be gracious to me, O Yahweh.
See my suffering from those who hate me,
you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 so that I may tell of all your praises.
In the gates of the daughter of Zion
let me rejoice in your salvation.
Because of the sentence structure and the words selected by David, it is pretty easy to see that he is praying. He’s asking Yahweh for something specific. What is David asking Yahweh for in verse thirteen? Specifically two things. He asks for Yahweh to be “gracious” to him and “see my suffering”.
Here David is suffering at the hands of those who hate him, and what does he ask God for, “be gracious to me”? I find that fascinating that in this instance he’s not asking God for deliverance, he’s not asking Him to pound his enemies into the ground, just “be gracious to me”. I think looking up the word translated “gracious” in the source language dictionary will inform our understanding of David’s request.
The Hebrew word חָנַן Hanene has among its range of possible meanings, to be inclined towards, to be favorably inclined, to favor someone, to be gracious to, to pity. To feel desire or commiseration towards anyone. Have mercy on me, on us;
Gesenius, Wilhelm, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures 2003: 292. Print.
If we understood “gracious” to include the meaning that David is asking Yahweh to look favorably upon him, to be inclined to him, it might help us how weighty is his request. Please, Yahweh, prefer me over my abusive enemies! If Yahweh is indeed “inclined toward” David, He will certainly see David’s suffering. Because David is in relationship with Yahweh he recognizes that Yahweh has, “lifted him up from the gates of death”. In other words, David trusts Yahweh.
David tells Yahweh he wants this “favor” so he would be enabled to “tell all your [Yahweh’s] praises. Where will the psalmist make this proclamation? In Jerusalem.
David is ultimately calling on Yahweh to rescue him. For the modern-day Christian too often every time we see the word “salvation” we think the scriptures are referring to eternal salvation. This simply isn’t the case. Here in this passage David’s choice of the word “salvation” clearly means rescue from his enemies. David has set his heart to rejoice in Yahweh’s rescue and asks for it one more time by pleading, “let me rejoice in your salvation”.
The other thing I noticed in these two verses is David seems to have a clear conscience before God. There is no sin standing in the way of his request to Yahweh. David is upright before Yahweh as he makes this particular request.
As I read and meditated upon these two verses I found myself wondering how often we, with clear hearts, ask Yahweh to look favorably upon us when people are oppressing us. Are we willing to abandon our “justified” angry responses and lean instead upon God’s grace?
Isn’t God good, His word pure, and His grace sustaining?