Psalm 9:19-20 | The Humbling of the Nations

DAVID GOFF | JUly 15, 2020



Arise, O Lord,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men. 


Psalm 9:19-20

It’s so easy to become weary when we watch evil prevail in the world around us. Everywhere we turn, we see examples where the wicked prospers, and the faithful are oppressed. When we are overwhelmed with weariness, we can become pessimistic for the future and forgetful of God’s ongoing work in the world.


When we look at Psalm 9, though, we see King David facing a similar dilemma. Here David faces a new challenge from the wicked, and he cries out anew for deliverance. Rather than responding in fear, David is confident that the Lord is ever-present and active in the world, and is even now judging righteously.


Let’s consider two truths from this passage about the Lord’s righteous judgments to reflect upon:


The evil deeds of the wicked will be stopped


For many of us in our working years, it is common to invest a portion of our earnings in a 401k or similar retirement account. In doing so, we might invest a part of our money in the stock market. And when we do, most people consider the historical performance of individual stocks or mutual funds. If we are wise investors, we will only put our trust in those stocks that have repeatedly delivered year after year.


Similarly, King David put his trust solely in the Lord - who has proven his unsurpassed reliability year after year. The Lord has never let him down. On the contrary, He was the anchor of his life more so than even his own family, friends, and nation. It was the Lord’s righteous judgments David could rely on to give the victory.


David reflects upon the Lord’s work in victory over his enemies and says, “they shall fall and perish at your presence” (9:3). Yet, David also sees the Lord providing a “refuge in times of trouble” (9:9) for the oppressed who trust in Him.


With these reflections in mind, David looks upon this new challenge from the wicked and knows (from the depths of his soul) that the Lord will “not let man prevail” (9:19). He cries out to God that He will deal with them as He has done in the past.


In our lives, we can get discouraged when we don’t see the wicked being dealt with in our way or timing. It can seem unfair from our vantage point. But be reminded that we are not God. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His plans are not our plans. One thing we can grasp, however, is that on the last day, those who refuse Jesus’ gift of salvation and continue in unbelief will be judged:

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

As we see evil abound all around us, we should take heart in knowing the Lord is still working in the world, and one day all the evil deeds of the wicked will be stopped.


With the guarantee that evil will be put down, is it possible for the wicked to repent and get right with God?


The nations will be humbled


As David petitions the Lord, he longs for the nations to “…know themselves to be but men” (9:20). Simply put, he desires the Lord’s discipline to lead the nations to fear the Lord and for them to see themselves as He does.  


During Jesus’ ministry, He taught about those who are “… poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), and “… those who mourn…” over their sin (5:4). It is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. It doesn’t matter if you are a well-known political leader or the CEO of a fortune 500 firm - you are just a man and need to humble yourself before God.


Therefore, when we receive the Lord’s discipline, or when our evil plans fail us - let us repent before the Lord and seek his face. Christ’s victory over death and his resurrection can give us hope. This hope is not only for us, but hope that the nations may humble themselves and also experience salvation.


Oh Father, how encouraging it is to know that you judge all the peoples from your throne with complete uprightness. Thank you that this world is not ultimate. We are grateful that you are the sovereign King, who is active in this world and able to change hearts. You are engaged in righteous judgment on the wicked and also active in providing comfort and refuge for the weary.


Lord, we acknowledge that we are not God. We pray for all of our leaders that they too would seek your face, fear you, and humble themselves. We thank you. And we pray that you would replace our pessimism with optimism for the future you have planned.


We look forward to that day of your second coming and your final righteous judgment. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



David Goff is the Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church, Washington MI