Crying Out for God to Act
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! 20 Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! (Psalm 9:17-20)
Do you ever look out onto the world that is, and find yourself longing for God to act? If not, then perhaps it is because you know little of God. In Psalm 9 David begins by recounting the wonderful deeds of the Lord. The focus of his recounting is of God judging the nations and being a stronghold for the oppressed. The recounting of what God has done in the past moves David to the conclusion of his psalm (which appears above).
The knowledge of God acting in justice and being a stronghold for the oppressed allows David to look out with a confidence concerning the future. The nations that forget God will enter Sheol (the grave), but the afflicted will not be forgotten by God (see vs. 17-18). If we are students of God’s Word, we know this to be true. The book of Revelation doesn’t sugar coat painful realities of this world, nor does it try to deny the menacing strength of those who oppose God. Yet, it is emphatic that God will win in the end - and justice will be served.
This knowledge then should move us to cry out in a similar fashion to David in the closing two verses of this Psalm. He cries out for the Lord to arise and judge the nations. His desire is that the nations might know “that they are but men!” When the powerful oppress others, they seem to think they are something other than merely men. In their lording themselves over those they oppress, they think they are lord. So, David longs that God might act to make it plain that they “are but men.”
If we know something of the character of God, if we can recount the ways he has acted in the past, and if we know something of how he will culminate his purpose in eternity, then let us learn from David and to cry out to our God concerning the world we see. When we see people lord themselves over others, let us cry out: “Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail (vs. 19a).”