Please, please, tell me a story
To the Choirmaster: According to muth-labben
A Psalm of David.
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. 7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. 9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. 11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 13 Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. 19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!
Stories grip us as human beings. I guess that is because we all have stories. As Plato said all stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Unless you are into bleak films, you probably like stories with a happy ending or in technical terms “resolution.” Psalm 9 is one of those Psalms that has a resolution. The Psalm begins with a story, “I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”(v.1) It has conflict, when it speaks of the “oppressed … in times of trouble”(9) and it has a beautiful resolution “Be gracious to me, O LORD! … [that]I may rejoice in your salvation.” (v. 13).
Joseph Campbell in his book Hero of A Thousand Faces speaks of the fact that every story in the world is actually a story about a hero “who ventures … from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
CS Lewis hints at this same idea in Mere Christianity when he hints that every story is simply a retelling of the “one, true story.” This Psalm begins with a Hero as its subject, the LORD, (“I will give thanks to the LORD”). David, as the storyteller, introduces these fabulous forces that are arrayed against him and confidently belts out “I will recount his wonderful deeds.”
Though trials come to shake David and us, our psalm and song should be that of wonderful deeds where the “righteousness” or right running of the world prevails (v7,8). David though hard pressed sings about his Champion. This Champion is he one who bids us trade out shame and defeat for his glory and fame. It is the best deal ever, trading and whole lot of nothing for a whole lot of everything.
When troubles come our way David urges to sing the song of the wondrous story.
I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me.
How He left His home in glory
For the cross of Calvary.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.