By Chuck Griffin
So, right up front, I might as well tell you what I’m doing wrong. I’m taking an obscure, hard-to-translate heading on a psalm and likely stretching it into far more than was intended.
The least controversial way to translate Psalm 9’s heading is, “To the chief musician upon Muth-labben,” which avoids all problems in translating the Hebrew phrase “Muth-labben.”
I studied a little Hebrew in seminary, but let’s just say I never wanted to make a living working in biblical languages. I have enormous respect for those who choose this path. But as best as I can tell, even the experts have trouble agreeing on the translation of this particular psalm title.
I will not bore you with all the possibilities, but my favorite, the one chosen by the New Living Translation, is, “To be sung to the tune, ‘Death of the Son.’ “
That translation begs other questions. Whose son? Being considered a psalm of David, Absalom, perhaps? Again, it’s impossible to answer for sure.
Just for the fun of it, let’s stick with “Death of the Son” as the title and then really Christianize the psalm. We will look at it like people who believe Jesus Christ is somehow present in every page of the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament.
What follows Psalm 9’s heading is unrestrained praise for God. This is the God who fills us with joy!
We also hear of the God who restores us at the judgment, sending our sin-aligned enemies staggering away mortally wounded.
The nations are all rebuked for unholiness. All is set right, and God is understood to be astonishingly loving, the one who shelters and restores the oppressed and hopeless.
Regardless of the psalmist’s intent, I think of the God who came among us in flesh and died for our sins, making resurrection and restoration possible. I think of Jesus Christ, the cross, and a stone rolled away from a tomb.
It’s enough to make me wonder if “Death of the Son” was a joyous tune.
Lord, help us begin our week immersed in the idea that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and in the hope that death brings. Amen.