Introduction to Psalm 9

To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, a Psalm of David. Some, take "muthlabben" to be the name of the tune to which this psalm was sung, and to design the same note which we call the counter-tenor: others think, that "upon muth", or "almuth", are but one word, and the same as "alamoth", Psalms 45:1, title; and that it is the name of a musical instrument; and that "Ben" in "labben", is the name of the chief musician, who was over that sort of instrument, to whom the psalm is inscribed {l}; and indeed R. Sol Jarchi says, that he had seen in the great Masorah these words as one; and so it seems the Septuagint interpreters read them, who render them, "for the hidden things of the son"; and the Arabic version, "concerning the mysteries of the son": and Ben is a name, it is said, of one of the singers, whose kindred and companions were appointed with psalteries on "alamoth", 1 Chronicles 15:18. And so then the title runs thus; "to the chief musician on alamoth, [even to] Ben". But others are of opinion that the subject matter or occasion of the psalm is designed by this phrase; and that as "muth" signifies "death", the death of some person is intended, on account of which this psalm was composed; some say Nabal, seeing the word Nbl, "Laban", inverted, or read backwards, is "Nabal" {m}, whose death affected David; as appears from 1 Samuel 25:38. Others, that it was one of the kings of the Gentiles, whose name was Labben, and is mentioned nowhere else, who fought with David, and whom he slew, and upon his death penned this psalm {n}. Others, Goliath the Philistine {o}, who is called, 1 Samuel 17:4. Mynbh vya, which we render "champion" and dueller, one of two that fight together. But rather the reason of the name is, as given by the Jewish commentators {p}, because he went and stood between the two camps of the Philistines and the Israelites; and so the Chaldee paraphrase renders the title of this psalm,

"to praise, concerning the death of the man who went out between the camps, a song of David.''

And so the psalm itself, in the Targum, and by other Jewish writers, is interpreted of Goliath and the Philistines, and of the victory over them; and which does not seem amiss. Arama interprets it of the death of Saul. Others interpret Almuth Labben "of the death of the son"; and understand it of the death of Absalom, the son of David {q}: but David's passion moved in another way, not in joy, but in grief,

2 Samuel 18:33; nor is there anything in the psalm that can be referred unto it. Others, of the death of the son of God; but of that there is not the least hint in the psalm. Theodoret interprets it of Christ's victory over death by dying, which was a mystery or hidden thing. Rather, I should think, it might be interpreted of the death of the son of perdition, the man of sin and his followers; who may be typified by Goliath, and the Philistines: and so, as Ainsworth observes, as the former psalm was concerning the propagation of Christ's kingdom, this is of the destruction of antichrist. And Jerom, long ago said, this whole psalm is sung by the prophet in the person of the church, concerning antichrist: and to this agrees the Syriac version; which makes the subject of the psalm to be,

"concerning Christ, taking the throne and kingdom, and routing the enemy.''

And also the Arabic version, according to which the argument of the psalm is,

"concerning the mysteries of the Son, with respect to the glory of Christ, and his resurrection and kingdom, and the destruction of all the children of disobedience.''

To which may be added, that this psalm, according to R. Sol Jarchi, belongs to the time to come, to the days of the Messiah, and the future redemption by him.

{l} Kimchi & Abendana in Miclol Yophi in loc.
{m} So some in Jarchi & Aben Ezra in loc.
{n} Donesh Hallevi in ibid.
{o} Kimchi & Ben Melech in loc.
{p} Jarchi, Kimchi, Levi Ben Gersom, R. Isaiah, & Ben Melech in 1 Sam. xvii. 4.
{q} So some in Jarchi in loc.