Heart of God: Psalm 9:11

Howard Culbertson
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.” -- Psalm 9:11

As David wrote the words “proclaim among the nations” for Psalm 9*, did he envision today’s world mission activity? Probably not, since he wrote that Psalm three thousand years ago. Isn’t it fascinating, however, how the Holy Spirit uses that phrase to call us to carry out Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)?

The four verses just prior to Psalm 9:11 extol God’s righteousness.  Scholars say that Psalm 9:11 builds on those four verses. It is thus a “therefore” verse.  That is to say, because our Creator and Redeemer is upright and fair and righteous, we must therefore proclaim Him “among the nations.”  Indeed, our passion for world evangelism may well indicate how much in awe we are of God’s righteousness.

We have often thought that our awareness of the world’s unreached peoples would be what ignites passion for world evangleism. Well, it should.  However, Psalm 9:11 points us to an even higher motivator: Our understanding of God’s righteousness.  Yahweh is radically different from the fickle, capricious and even dishonest “gods” promoted by other religions.

This is not the only Psalm which speaks of worldwide proclamation.  More than 40 other Psalms mention global evangelism in some way (http://goo.gl/5BppMj).  David clearly believed that God’s revelation of Himself was not supposed to remain Israel’s private secret. Rather, God intended for His people to communicate that revelation to all other nations, to announce it in "all the ends of the earth" as Psalm 22:27 and Acts 1:8 put it.

Not everyone sees Psalm 9:11 as a call to world evangelism.  One online Bible commentary inexplicably says this verse is a message that we are to “tell people about God: our family, our friends, those we work with.”  Now, to be sure, spreading the Good News to family and friends is important.  It’s very important.  However, asserting that “among the nations” refers only to those close to us robs this verse of its global sweep. Indeed, John Wesley wrote in his Explanatory Notes that Psalm 9:11 refers to “heathen nations” (not close friends and family).

What has the Lord done that we should be proclaiming all over the world?  God loves us and that love has driven Him to incredible lengths to draw all people to Him (John 3:16).  That is worthy of being proclaimed among the nations!

Psalm 18:49, also written by David, is similar to Psalm 9:11.  There, however, global proclamation is stated as a response rather than as a command: “Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations.

Shouldn’t we echo those words in response to the command in Psalm 9:11?

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*Psalm 105:1 has words almost identical to Psalm 9:11: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”