Psalm 9: Lessons From David’s Example on How to Respond When You Are Attacked

Introduction: Here, David turned to God in the face of an attack. David’s attackers are unknown. What matters is how he responded to his attackers. Through his example, God reveals seven lessons for responding when you are under attack. God wants you to respond with: (1) praise, (2) trust, (3) dependence, (4) worship, (5) humility, (6) hope, and (7) petition / prayer.

First, as our example, David responded to an attack against him by praising God for his future deliverance. When you are under attack, you should follow David’s example by praising God for your deliverance. Second, David responded to the attacks against him by praising God for being just and fair. When you are under attack, God also wants you to trust Him to be fair and just in your situation. Third, David responded to his attackers by professing that God is a “stronghold” for those who seek Him. When you are under attack, God also wants you to seek Him and depend upon Him for your protection. Fourth, David also responded to his attackers by singing worship songs. When you are attacked, God also wants you to turn your mind from yourself to Him through worship. Fifth, David pleaded for God’s mercy in case sin had removed God’s hedge of protection. David knew that God acts through grace, not because of our self-righteousness. When you are attacked, God also wants you to approach Him in humility for His assistance. Sixth, David placed his hope in God’s future victory. When you are attacked, you should also place your hope in God for victory. Finally, David concluded with a petition for God to deliver him. When you are attacked, God also wants you to petition Him for your deliverance.

1. Praise: When You Are Under Attack, Praise God for His Deliverance. Ps. 9:1-3.

  • David responded to his attackers by praising God for His future deliverance. As our example, David praised God’s “name” or holy character when others attacked him: “Thanksgiving for God’s justice. For the music director; on Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. 1I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will rejoice and be jubilant in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before You.” (Ps. 9:1-3). David knew that half-hearted praise was worthless. Thus, he praised God with his whole heart. By praising God the “Most High”, he further trusted in God’s sovereignty over evil.

  • When you are under attack, turn your focus from yourself to God by praising Him. As our example, David repeatedly thanked God and praised Him every time that God delivered him (Ps. 9:1-2): “But rejoice, all who take refuge in You, sing for joy forever! And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps. 5:11). “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders.” (Ps. 26:7). “A Psalm of David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Ps. 34:1). “The righteous person will be glad in the LORD and take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will boast.” (Ps. 64:10). “I will give thanks to You, Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forever.” (Ps. 86:12). Regardless of your situation, the Apostle Paul also encouraged believers to always thank God: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Eph. 5:20). “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18). Regardless of the timing of your deliverance, give thanks that God will one day deliver you from evil.

As our example, David expressed his gratitude to God through worship music1

  • Offer praise that is genuine and authentic. David promised that he would “give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;” (Ps. 9:1). The famous British preacher Charles Spurgeon echoed David’s words by observing that: “Half heart is no heart.” If you are merely going through the motions when you worship, it is a mere show that is worthless to God.

  • God fills His enemies with fear in His timing. David also repeatedly praised God for causing his enemies to run from him when God protected him (Ps. 9:2-3). “When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.” (Ps. 27:2). “Then my enemies will turn back on the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me.” (Ps. 56:9). “By this I know that You are pleased with me, because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” (Ps. 41:11). “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6; Heb. 13:6; Ro. 8:31). While many know of God’s future victory over evil, many lack the patience to trust in His timing. Your deliverance might be immediate. Or, it might not happen until you get to heaven. God wants you to trust in His timing to deliver you according to His plan.

2. Trust: When You Are Under Attack, Trust God to Be Fair and Just. Ps. 9:4-8.

  • David responded to his attackers by trusting God to be fair and just in his situation. Also as our example, David trusted in God’s righteous rule when his enemies attacked him: “For You have maintained my just cause; You have sat on the throne judging righteously. You have rebuked the nations, You have eliminated the wicked; You have wiped out their name forever and ever. The enemy has come to an end in everlasting ruins, and You have uprooted the cities; the very memory of them has perished. But the Lord sits as King forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples fairly.” (Ps. 9:4-8). Satan is temporarily the ruler of this world. Yet, Jesus will one day come to reclaim the Earth and rule with righteousness for all eternity.

  • Trust God to be just and fair in His judgments. David promised that God’s final judgments would be just and fair (Ps. 9:4-8). He knew that the King of Kings will reign forever: “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). He will fairly judge all the nations of the Earth: “May the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with fairness and guide the nations on the earth. Selah” (Ps. 67:4). “And people will say, ‘There certainly is a reward for the righteous; there certainly is a God who judges on the earth!’” (Ps. 58:11). “When I select an appointed time, it is I who judge fairly.” (Ps. 75:2). “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before You.” (Ps. 89:14). “Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples fairly.”’ (Ps. 96:10). “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Ps. 97:2). “Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with fairness.” (Ps. 98:9). “But You, LORD, remain forever, and Your name remains to all generations.” (Ps. 102:12). Even when things feel unfair during your trials, you can trust God to ultimately be just and fair with you.

  • Pray for God to vindicate you instead of seeking your own vengeance. Also as our example, David prayed for God to vindicate him when he was attacked (Ps. 9:4). David did not attempt to seek vengeance or take matters into his own hands: “A Psalm of David. Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. . . Judge me, LORD my God, according to Your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me.” (Ps. 35:1, 25). “Vindicate me, God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; save me from the deceitful and unjust person!” (Ps. 43:1). For example, David told Saul that God would judge their dispute: “May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD take vengeance on you for me; but my hand shall not be against you. . . May the LORD therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause and save me from your hand.” (1 Sam. 24:12, 15). Instead of trying to right the wrongs against you, God also wants you to give your burdens to Him. Even if His timing is not your timing, He will be just and fair to you.

  • God will one day judge unrepentant sin. David warned that unrepentant sinners would one day face God’s final judgment: “But the way of the wicked will perish.” (Ps. 1:6b). “You have eliminated the wicked; You have wiped out their name forever and ever.” (Ps. 9:5). “He will rain coals of fire upon the wicked, and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.” (Ps. 11:6). “The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to eliminate the memory of them from the earth.” (Ps. 34:16). “However, the LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will wipe him out of My book.”’ (Ex. 32:33). “May they be wiped out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous.” (Ps. 69:28). Thus, you should never interpret God’s withheld judgment as a license to sin. God may withhold judgment to give sinners the chance to repent.

3. Dependence: When You Are Under Attack, Depend Upon God’s Protection. Ps. 9:9-10.

  • When attacked, David professed that God is a stronghold for those who seek Him. Also as our example, David depended upon God when attacked and sought out His protection: 9 The Lord will also be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; 10 and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.” (Ps. 9:9-10). David had the faith to seek refuge in God when attacked. He did not rely upon his own strength or abilities to defeat his enemies.

Depend upon God for your shelter when you are attacked2

  • God can be your shield when you take refuge in Him. In his song of deliverance, David proclaimed that God was his shield: “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3). “For You bless the righteous person, LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Ps. 5:12). “You are my hiding place; You keep me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Ps. 32:7). As part of His Covenant with Abraham, God also promised to be a shield to him and his descendants: “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”’ (Gen. 15:1). “Blessed are you, Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and He who is the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will trample on their high places.” (Dt. 33:29). If you are under attack, depend upon God and let Him be your shield of protection.

  • Trust God to never leave you or forsake you. David proclaimed in faith God would not abandon believers who seek Him (Ps. 9:10). “Do not abandon me nor forsake me, God of my salvation!” (Ps. 27:9b). “For the LORD loves justice and does not abandon His godly ones; they are protected forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be eliminated.” (Ps. 37:28). “For the LORD will not abandon His people, nor will He abandon His inheritance.” (Ps. 94:14). You can also trust that God will never leave you or forsake you. He wants you to cry out to Him and put your trust in Him.

4. Worship: When Attacked, Keep Your Mind on God Through Worship. Ps. 9:11-12.

  • When attacked, David responded by singing with worship to keep his mind on God. As our example, David strengthened his faith through songs of praise for God’s faithfulness: “11 Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; declare His deeds among the peoples. 12 For He who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the needy.” (Ps. 9:11-12). David had the faith to know that God never forgets those who are in need. The blood of the innocent pollutes the Earth (Nu. 35:33-34). It also cries out to God (e.g., Gen. 4:10; 2 Kgs. 9:26). Thus, God will avenge the blood of the innocent.

When you are attacked, turn your focus to God and worship Him3

  • Worship God to focus on His faithfulness when you are attacked. Regardless of the circumstances, David repeatedly sang songs of gratitude for His faithfulness: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make His deeds known among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders.” (1 Chr. 16:8-9). “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make His deeds known among the peoples.” (Ps. 105:1). “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His mercy is everlasting.” (Ps. 106:1). If you only worship God when times are good, you may fail to depend upon Him during your trials.

  • Praise God through songs that He loves you and cares about you. David praised God for remembering those who are in need (Ps. 9:12). Because He created us, every life is precious to God: “He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, and their blood will be precious in his sight;” (Ps. 72:14). “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones.” (Ps. 116:15). God loved you enough to send His only son to die for you (Jo. 3:16). Thus, you can rejoice that He cares when you suffer.

5. Humility: When You Are Attacked, Approach God in Humility. Ps. 9:13-14.

  • When attacked, David approached God with humility by pleading for God’s grace. David also pleaded for God’s grace to deliver him from death and protect him: “13 Be gracious to me, Lord; see my oppression from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 so that I may tell of all Your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.” (Ps. 9:13-14). David knew that God does not help us because of our self-righteousness. Instead, He acts out of grace.

  • God will lift you up when you humble yourself before Him. David approached God in humility (Ps. 9:13). He knew that God lifts up the humble: “Arise, LORD; God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the humble.” (Ps. 10:12). In his humility, David gave God the credit for his salvation (Ps. 9:13-14). Because of his sins, David knew that he did nothing to earn his salvation: “LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.” (Ps. 30:3). “For Your graciousness toward me is great, and You have saved my soul from the depths of Sheol.” (Ps. 86:13). Because God delivered David from “the depths of Sheol” there was no enemy on Earth that David needed to fear. You also do not need to fear any evil when you trust God.

  • If you act with humility before God, you will also reap grace and honor. Jesus humbled Himself as a servant. He then died an agonizing death on the cross (Phil. 2:8). He calls upon you to respond by serving Him in humility (Prov. 8:13; Ps. 75:5; 94:4). Those who show humility before God will be exalted in heaven: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Ja. 4:10). “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (Ja. 2:5). Are you honoring and praising Jesus as He deserves?

  • Share your testimony with others when God delivers you. David sought out God’s deliverance not for his own glory. Instead, he pleaded for deliverance: “so that I may tell of all Your praises.” (Ps. 9:14). “Lord, open my lips, so that my mouth may declare Your praise.” (Ps. 51:15). “Again, the idea is that David has much more than his own benefit and well-being in mind. Even his deliverance is a way for God to bring more glory to Himself. David did not see his rescue as the final goal; the goal was always God’s greater glory.” (David Guzik on Ps. 9).4 When God delivers you, share your testimony with others. If you fail to share His deliverance, you may take all the credit.

6. Hope: When You Are Attacked, Place Your Hope in God For Victory. Ps. 9:15-16.

  • When attacked, David placed his hope in God’s future victory over evil. In the face of the unknown, David placed his hope in God to one day prevail over all the evil nations: “15 The nations have sunk down into the pit which they have made; in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The Lord has made Himself known; He has executed judgment. A wicked one is ensnared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion Selah” David did not place his hope in his own victory. Instead, he placed his hope in God’s victory, and he knew that God’s victory would come in His timing.

  • The unsaved will be repaid according to their deeds. David was not pleading for the destruction of his enemies. He instead trusted God to prevail over evil and bring evil into judgment. For the unsaved, Jesus promised that: “the Son of Man . . . will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27). “Who will render to each person according to his deeds” (Ro. 2:6). “ . . . for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8). “According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:8). “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.” (Hos. 8:7). “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, and the rod of his fury will perish.” (Prov. 22:8). Thus, you don’t need to take vengeance into your own hands when you are attacked. You can trust God to judge all things. But He will do so in His timing, not yours.

  • Put your hope in God for deliverance. David knew that he could find hope in God because David feared God by hating evil: “He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry for help and save them.” (Ps. 145:19). “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14). If you are filled with fear, put your hope in God to deliver you.

7. Petition: When You Are Attacked, Petition God For Your Deliverance. Ps. 9:17-20.

  • David responded to his attackers by petitioning God for his deliverance. David concluded his psalm of praise with a petition for God to deliver him from his enemies: 17 The wicked will return to Sheol, all the nations who forget God. 18 For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever. 19 Arise, Lord, do not let mankind prevail; let the nations be judged before You. 20 Put them in fear, Lord; let the nations know that they are merely human. Selah” (Ps. 9:17-20). David was not being selfish in petitioning God. Instead, he showed his faith by placing his trust in God. God also wants you to follow David’s example by crying out when you are in need.

  • Cry out to God, when you need deliverance. David cried out in faith “Arise, Lord,” (Ps. 9:19). He was not being presumptuous. He instead knew that he could cry out to God for deliverance from his enemies. “I was crying out to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah” (Ps. 3:4). “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly person for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.” (Ps. 4:3). “Leave me, all you who practice injustice, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.” (Ps. 6:8). “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.” (Ps. 18:6). “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the sound of my pleading.” (Ps. 28:6). If you are in need of deliverance, cry out to God.

  • Pray also for others in need of deliverance. God also wants you to pray for others. In response to Moses’ prayers, God repeatedly spared the Jews (e.g., Ex. 32:11-14; Nu. 14:18-22; 16:21-24). The apostles also continually prayed for others. “. . . I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,” (2 Tim. 1:3). “. . . we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” (Col. 1:9). “do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;” (Eph. 1:16). “as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, . . .” (1 Thess. 3:10). You are part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). As His appointed priest, you too have the power of intercessory prayer. Yet, it doesn’t work if you lack faith. “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, . . .” (Jam. 1:6). If you know someone who is under physical or spiritual attack, are you earnestly praying for their deliverance?