Jesus ! Mary !
- To the choirmaster, on death, to the Son, a psalm to David.
- I praise Yahweh with my whole heart. I declare all Your marvels.
IN EXPECTATION OF HIS RETURN
- I rejoice and exult in You ; I sing Your Name, O Most High !
- At the “ Return ”, my enemies will fall back and disappear before Your Face,
- For You have done me justice, and You have sat upon Your throne as the just judge of my cause.
- You have threatened the nations, You have made the wicked one disappear ; You have effaced their name for ages of ages.
- The swords of the enemy : finished forever ! You have overturned cities of which no one has memory any longer.
- While Yahweh is enthroned forever, He has made justice the foundation of His throne.
- It is He who governs the world with righteousness ; He judges the peoples with uprightness.
IN EXPECTATION OF JESUS AND MARY
- And Yahweh is a bulwark for the one who has been crushed, a bulwark in times of distress.
- « Let those who know Your Name hope in You, for You do not abandon those who seek You, Yahweh ! »
- Make a psalm for Yahweh who dwells in Sion. Tell the peoples of His lofty deeds,
- For He who orders an account for blood remembers it ; He is not deaf to the cry of those who have been humbled :
- « Have pity on me, Yahweh, see the state of humiliation in which those who hate me hold me ! Make me rise above the gates of death.
- « That I may make known all Your praises at the gates of the daughter of Sion, that I rejoice in Your Salvation. »
SONG OF VICTORY
- The nations have fallen into the pit that they made ; their foot has been caught in the snare that they hid.
- Yahweh has made Himself known, He has done justice through the work of His hands by laying hold of the Wicked One :
- « May the wicked convert ! To Sheol, all nations that have forgotten God !
- « For it is not forever that the poor man is forgotten ; the waiting of the humble will one day come to an end ! »
- Rise up, Yahweh ! May a man not triumph over him ! May the nations be judged in Your presence.
- Strike them with terror, Yahweh. May these pagans know that they are only men !
1. To the choirmaster, on death, to the Son, a psalm to David.
T HE exegetes admit that they do not understand this introduction and propose various, rather heterogeneous translations, simply losing sight of the fact that the Psalmists’ constant subject of meditation is this « Son », son of David, but also Son of God since Yahweh told Him : « You are My Son, today I have begotten You. » (Ps 2.7)
Straightaway, this dedication gives Psalm 9 a tragic colour, dedicating « to the Son » a meditation « on death »,… to the Son of God Himself ? How can it be a question of « death » concerning Him ?
2. I praise Yahweh with my whole heart. I declare all Your marvels.
Nevertheless, it begins with a song of praise, at the memory of the « marvels » wrought by God with the full knowledge of the people of Israel, « such marvels as have never been wrought in any land or in any nation » (Ex 34.10).
Indeed, the remainder recalls the entire history of Yahweh’s Covenant with Israel.
IN EXPECTATION OF HIS RETURN
3. I rejoice and exult in You ; I sing Your Name, O Most High !
The invocation of the « Most High » takes us back to the time of Abraham, when « Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine ; he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed Abram with these words : “ Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hands. ” » (Gn 14.18-20)
This is precisely what the Messiah « rejoices » over here, imitating Abraham. It is of him that Jesus will say to the Jews, « he rejoiced to think that he would see My Day » (Jn 8.56).
4. At the « Return », my enemies will fall back and disappear before Your Face,
The word “ Return ” designates the Exodus, the departure of Abraham’s descendants from Egypt that Moses led and by means of which Yahweh freed His people from the yoke of the Egyptians, guided them across the desert, and made a Covenant with Him on Mount Sinai in order to bring him back to the Land that He had promised to Abraham. Then, « Yahweh hurled the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. As the water flowed back, it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army which had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not a single one of them escaped. » (Ex 14.27-28)
At the time when this psalm was written, the memory of a second Exodus, that of the « return » from the Exile (538 BC) – which was full of disappointments, as the previous psalms have taught us – superimposes itself upon this memory from times gone by. This is why there is this expectation of a “ return of Yahweh ” that was inspired by the prophecies of the Unknown of the Exile : « Why do You let us wander, O Yahweh, from Your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear You not ? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. » (Is 63.17)
5. For You have done me justice, and You have sat upon Your throne as the just judge of my cause.
We have already seen the Messiah in Psalm 7 appeal to Yahweh to advocate His cause, by virtue of the promises contained in the songs of the Servant. It seems here that this is what has taken place.
6. You have threatened the nations, You have made the wicked one disappear ; You have effaced their name for ages of ages.
« The nations » are all the pagan peoples who are not Jews. In Psalm 2 they are united against Yahweh and against the Messiah, His Son. (Ps 2.1)
The verbs here are in the tense naming completed action, the Hebrew perfect, because God rebuked the nations throughout Israel’s history by the mouths of the prophets, and He has already exercised His justice in the past, for example in the time of the Flood : « Yahweh said : “ I will efface from the earth the men whom I have created […], for I am sorry that I made them. ” » (Gn 6.7) This is the prophetic announcement of the end of time that will establish the Messiah in His right forever over the entire earth.
7. The swords of the enemy : finished forever ! You have overturned cities of which no one has memory any longer.
Such was, in fact, the terrible fate reserved for the cities that Joshua anathematised at the time of the conquest of the Promised Land by the Israelites.
But idolatry and corruption were not long in taking hold of the Hebrew people themselves. And Yahweh was obliged to act severely and punish His chosen people in order to snatch them from such infidelity. Israel was defeated by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, led off to Babylon into captivity, and Jerusalem, the holy city, was destroyed.
8. While Yahweh is enthroned forever, He has made justice the foundation of His throne.
At the time when the Psalmist wrote, there was no longer a king in Jerusalem. The last king of Judah was the little
Jehoiachin (598-597 BC), who was eight years old at his accession. He reigned three months and was deported with the Queen, his mother, to expiate the crimes of his people in the jails of Babylon. But even so, Yahweh reigns in person. His throne is indestructible.
9. It is He who governs the world with righteousness ; He judges the peoples with uprightness.
Thus Yahweh reigned not only at Jerusalem. The fall of Babylon under the blows of Cyrus, in 539 BC, and the edict of Cyrus allowing the return of the exiles to Jerusalem demonstrated this.
IN EXPECTATION OF JESUS AND MARY
10. And Yahweh is a bulwark for the one who has been crushed, a bulwark in times of distress.
« The one who has been crushed » is Yahweh’s Suffering Servant. The prophet contemporary with
Jehoiachin, whom the exegetes call the “ second Isaiah ” but to whom our Father refers as the “ Unknown of the Exile, ” presents the Suffering Servant as the figure of the King-Messiah to come, Redeemer of His people through his suffering : « He was pierced for our offences, crushed for our sins » (Is 53.5). For, « it was Yahweh’s good pleasure to crush Him with pain. (Is 53.10)
Yahweh was « a bulwark in times of distress », that is to say at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And He still is after the return from the Exile, in a Jerusalem that has been devastated and occupied by the Samaritans, who prevent the repatriates from reconstructing the very bulwarks of the holy City, in particular. It was then, as it is today, a country for two peoples ! There is obviously nothing new under the sun…
11. « Let those who know Your Name hope in You, for You do not abandon those who seek You, Yahweh ! »
This certainty, then, haunted these repatriates, these faithful Yahwists. They regained courage amidst persecutions from their recollection of the prophecy in Deuteronomy :
« Yet there too you shall seek Yahweh your God ; and you shall indeed find Him if you search after Him with your whole heart and your whole soul. » (Dt 4.29)
The psalms are the eternal testimony of this « search » in the midst of trial, this search through trial, and they are still the driving force of our own.
12. Make a psalm for Yahweh who dwells in Sion. Tell the peoples of His lofty deeds,
The Psalmist’s vocation is to compose psalms, and ours is to recite them, to sing them, in order to relate to the peoples the « lofty deeds » of Yahweh, to the praise of His glory. These « lofty deeds » are not so much the « marvels » that were announced in verse 2 referred to in the verses preceding this one ; they date to the time of Moses, Joshua, and David. No, the Psalmist refers to the humiliations and suffering of the Messiah, for which the present humiliations of the repatriates are the harbinger. For Yahweh’s plan is to take mercy on us, for the sake of these very humiliations :
13. For He who orders an account for blood remembers it ; He is not deaf to the cry of those who have been humbled :
Will the Messiah then go to the point of shedding His Precious Blood ? Well, yes ! In the previous psalms, we saw Him flying from one victory to the next, so to speak, like David, His father. But here, it would seem as though He must fall into the power of his foes.
He implores :
14. « Have pity on me, Yahweh, see the state of humiliation in which those who hate me hold me ! Make me rise above the gates of death.
This is the explanation of the title, that enigmatic first verse. This psalm dedicated « to the Son », well and truly envisages the « death » of the « Son », Himself, Son of God, son of David, yet at the same time it is an unquestionable evocation of His resurrection in virtue of the promise that the Unknown of the Exile made to Yahweh’s Servant :
« If He shall lay down His life He shall see a posterity and length of days, and the work of Yahweh shall prosper in His hands. After the trials of His soul, He will see the light and be content. (53.10-11)
15. « That I may make known all Your praises at the gates of the daughter of Sion, that I rejoice in Your Salvation. »
« In Your Salvation », literally : « in Your Jesus ». The blessed name of « Jesus » is written here in black and white. That being the case, « the daughter of Sion » is Mary ! And Jesus will be the cause of Her rejoicing, as She will sing it on the day of Her Magnificat : « My soul glorifies the Lord, and My spirit rejoices in God My Saviour », literally, « in God My Jesus ».
Strictly speaking, we could translate : at the gates of the Virgin, that I rejoice in Your Jesus !
This is the only place in the Psalter that the expression « daughter of Sion » is used. It corresponds to « Son » in verse 1. And her « gates » contrast with the gates of death, as doors of resurrection. The Psalmist follows the movement of the prophecies of the Unknown of the Exile.
« No longer shall violence be heard of in your land, or plunder and ruin within your boundaries. You shall call your walls “ Salvation ” and your gates “ Praise. ” » (Is 60.18)
But, already, five hundred years earlier, in the time of King Hezekiah, the Prophet Isaiah set « the Virgin, daughter of Sion » opposite the invader Sennacherib, king of Assyria :
« This is the word that Yahweh has spoken concerning him : “ She despises you, laughs you to scorn, the virgin daughter Sion ; behind you she wags her head, daughter Jerusalem. ” » (Is 37.22) This is the exultation to which the Archangel Gabriel will invite the Virgin Mary on the day of the Annunciation.
A VICTORY SONG
16. The nations have fallen into the pit that they made ; their foot has been caught in the snare that they hid.
The pagans made these snares against the Messiah, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah : « They have dug a pit to capture me, they have hid snares for my feet. » (Jr 18.22) But through a reversal of fates that was already promised by Psalm 7, the wicked « opens a pit and digs it, and he falls into the pit that he fashions » (Ps 7.16).
17. Yahweh has made Himself known, He has done justice through the work of His hands by laying hold of the Wicked One :
Psalm 8 told us this : « the work of His hands » is the Messianic community of the restoration to come ; it is « a work of His hands, made to be beautiful », says Yahweh (Is 60.21; cf. 64.7; 45.11; 29.23). It is therefore, above all, the Immaculate, « the daughter of Sion » ! The Wicked One for whom Sennacherib, king of Assyria was the figure, is Satan.
18. « May the wicked convert ! To Sheol, all nations that have forgotten God !
Sheol is the place where one suffers from God having forgotten him (Ps 6.6); it is normal that those who have « forgotten » God find their definitive place there.
19. « For it is not forever that the poor man is forgotten ; the waiting of the humble will one day come to an end ! »
On the contrary, Yahweh does not forget the « poor man », the man who, even in trials, keeps his faith in Yahweh his God uncorrupted. The « humble », in Hebrew the anawîm, the poor of Israel will be rewarded for their faithfulness in the trial, their hope will be answered, their expectation of the Messiah « will one day come to an end », and this day will be a day of « rejoicing » (verse 15).
While holding firmly to this hope, the fight against man and against the proud cult that he gives himself continues.
20. Rise up, Yahweh ! May a man not triumph over him ! May the nations be judged in Your presence.
« Rise up ! » Once again, the Psalmist implores Yahweh to hasten the hour of His judgement so that the cult of man and his pride not triumph over the cult of God.
21. Strike them with terror, Yahweh. May these pagans know that they are only men !
Now, man is not worth much, as the author of Psalm 8 has already acknowledged : « What then is Enosh that You should be mindful of him ? And the son of Adam that You should visit him ? » (Ps 8.5)
He is nothing, indeed. And yet Yahweh is going to visit His people, by sending His Son to die on a Cross for our Salvation. This psalm already proclaims the annunciation of the « daughter of Sion », the personification of the anawîm, the « poor of Israel », faithful Yahwists, whose faith is upright and whose hope is invincible.
Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary
His is risen ! n° 29, January 2005