God Remembers and Judges | Psalm 9:15–20
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
Some wonder if being rich or powerful is sinful since so much in Scripture addresses it. As Jesus said, though, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Lk 12:48). It’s not that there’s special virtue in being needy and poor, as sins such as sloth can lead to or perpetuate poverty (Pv 10:4; 20:13)—and there’s no command in Scripture to subsidize sinful lifestyles.
Still, the nations stand warned in this passage to take care of those genuinely in need. Sin obviously isn’t the only cause of poverty, and the impoverished often learn true dependence on the Lord (Ps 40:17; 86:1). God expected the king—who is supposed to know God—to take care of the poor and needy (Jer 22:15–16). The nations that forget God (v. 17), that fail to keep His commands (Dt 8:11), will find Him remembering how they mistreated the downtrodden. He judges in two ways.
God judges providentially. David uses similar imagery in Ps. 7:14–16. As the wicked of the nations create innovative ways to bilk money out of the poor or to take what belongs to another, their schemes collapse. Those seeking to deceptively steal what little a person has under the guise of some social program lives on borrowed time. God providentially works by turning the work of evil back on the evildoer.
God judges eschatologically. This means that He will render all other judgments on the last day. Those ignoring the plight of the afflicted within its own borders must remember that it’s only mortal. Individuals comprise nations, and God will not forget how each person has walked unjustly in this world. Sheol is one of the more terrifying pictures of the afterlife in Scripture, and it’s a place of no return (Job 7:9).