This pair of psalms form a carefully constructed prayer of praise for both the glory of the Lord and David’s trust in the righteous justice by which the universe is ruled. He begins with anticipatory praise, lifting Yahweh high as he looks forward to what will be visited on his enemies:
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously. (vv 9:1 – 4)
The combined message of nine and ten is threefold; humility, limitation, and responsibility. From a human standpoint, not three of our favorite topics. To realize our humility is to recognize how little is truly under our control. No matter how high our position, when we set our own throne before that of the King we are yet again aware of how insignificant it is. When our humility fails us, we rebel against this King thinking ourselves higher than the Host. The warning is clear:
The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. (vv 9:15- 16)
If our perspective remains on the earthly plain, we can easily convince ourselves of how powerful we are. The humility engendered by an encounter with the Almighty leads us clearly to realize our limitations. David sees clearly that the authority granted him by the Lord can be used in terribly destructive ways:
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. (vv 10:2-3)
Does the evil man filled with hubris get away with this arrogant behavior? Perhaps, for a time, but as we soak in the words of both of the psalms we return to the glorification that filled the first few verses. We trust and know, based on the ultimate goodness of our God, that righteousness will prevail.
Finally, the rapaciousness of the ‘enemies’ that lurk in the second of the two psalms is in direct contrast to the responsibility for creation that was assigned to the men and women who are to populate it. It is provided for our use but not to be plundered without concern. To do so is as much rebellion as denying the Creator His place and authority. Circling back to humility forces us to answer; are we enemies to any degree?