I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will talk about all your wonderful acts.
2 I will celebrate and rejoice in you;
I will sing praises to your name, Most High.
3 When my enemies turn and retreat,
they fall down and die right in front of you
4 because you have established justice
for me and my claim,
because you rule from the throne,
establishing justice rightly.
5 You’ve denounced the nations,
destroyed the wicked.
You’ve erased their names for all time.
6 Every enemy is wiped out,
like something ruined forever.
You’ve torn down their cities—
even the memory of them is dead.
7 But the Lord rules forever!
He assumes his throne
for the sake of justice.
8 He will establish justice in the world rightly;
he will judge all people fairly.
9 The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed—
a safe place in difficult times.
10 Those who know your name trust you
because you have not abandoned
any who seek you, Lord.
11 Sing praises to the Lord, who lives in Zion!
Proclaim his mighty acts among all people!
12 Because the one who avenges bloodshed
remembers those who suffer;
the Lord hasn’t forgotten their cries for help.
13 Have mercy on me, Lord!
Just look how I suffer
because of those who hate me.
But you are the one who brings me back
from the very gates of death
14 so I can declare all your praises,
so I can rejoice in your salvation
in the gates of Daughter Zion.
15 The nations have fallen
into the hole they themselves made!
Their feet are caught
in the very net they themselves hid!
16 The Lord is famous for the justice he has done;
it’s his own doing that the wicked are trapped. Higgayon. Selah
17 Let the wicked go straight to the grave,[d]
the same for every nation that forgets God.
18 Because the poor won’t be forgotten forever,
the hope of those who suffer won’t be lost for all time.
19 Get up, Lord! Don’t let people prevail!
Let the nations be judged before you.
20 Strike them with fear, Lord.
Let the nations know they are only human. Selah (Psalm 9:1-20, Common English Bible.)
Psalm 9 contains yet another word that none of the scholars who translate the Bible seem to know what it means. They have ideas, thoughts. But those ideas are just that, ideas.
To my way of thinking, either, someone believed all who read the Psalms would always read and understand Hebrew. Or, they thought their hymnal would become outdated. It is the only hymnal in history not to become outdated. No, we don’t sing from it any more. But we do read from it and on occasion have music playing in the background.
So, what is a Higgayon? I suspect it to be a word that does not translate to English very well. The Common English Bible (CEB) and New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) leave the Hebrew word Higgayon and make no attempt to translate it.
The King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Version (NASB), and Good News Translation (GNT) give nothing in the way of a definition but you also might look past the footnotes and think there is nothing present at all because none of those translations make an attempt to translate the Hebrew.
The New King James Version is the only translation I saw that makes an attempt to translate the word. They use meditation.
I thought a Jewish Bible might tell us something but apparently the translators of The Complete Jewish Bible are much the same in thinking as KJV, NIV, NASB, and GNT. Neither the Hebrew word nor Higgayon is present on the other hand, I also looked at the Orthodox Jewish Bible. It did use Higgayon. That means it is closer to the CEB and NRSV.
I had hopes that perhaps the writers of the paraphrased Living Bible and the idiomatic (neither a paraphrase or a translation) The Message would at least give us their author’s opinion. That didn’t happen.
Next was Young’s Literal Translation which is supposed to be a word-for-word translation. It added nothing new as it gave no word there at all matching it with KJV, NIV, NASB, and GNT. So, in the actual translations and paraphrases we are not going to learn the meaning of Higgayon.
My last stop was Strong’s Hebrew. Because I do not read Hebrew, over the years I have found this book quite valuable. I recommend it (usually included in a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for anyone who wants to seriously study the Bible. It probably would have been my first stop if I was in my office. I am not, I am at home and my Strong’s Concordance is in my office. I happened to find Strong’s Hebrew online.
According to Strong’s Higgayon means resounding music, meditation, musing. That is what I was looking for.
So, what is the point of all this? My point was to illustrate that serious Bible study can be and often is serious work. Often when we read something in the Bible we are depending on the accuracy of a single translation or paraphrase. I use paraphrases more as a tool and maybe even similar to a commentary (to be fair, a commentary is usually more scholarly and better researched that a paraphrase. Paraphrases serve the purpose of being easier to understand) because they are someone or perhaps a group of someones who are sharing their point of view. A translation takes the original language and translates it into something coherent, readable and hopefully understandable work.
This word Higgayon required us to move beyond both translations and paraphrases to use another tool. There is nothing wrong with using tools. You can find them online, sometimes on sites that have (hopefully with permission) taken what would have only been in book form, not too many years ago and made it accessible to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection. Or, with books and ebooks available from companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to name just two, tools are also available for anyone.
If you are interested in buying a Bible, I would recommend you first go to, https://www.biblegateway.com/. The site has 57 different English Bibles alone. If you want to read from a language other than English, they have more than 70 available. It gives you the opportunity to try before you buy.
Personal (and corporate) Bible study is important. It can also be frustrating, especially when you encounter words like Higgayon and you want to know what it means. So, having a few study tools can be helpful in learning and keeping frustration away.
Here are a few study tools you might find helpful:
The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary. Available on Amazon $29.49. Available for Kindle $11.00. The older version is available used at a considerably lower price.
The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Available on Amazon – $57.05 Available on Kindle for $37.99. The Harper Collins one volume commentary is also good and less expensive. The oldest version is available used for even less. Search Harper Collins Bible Commentary.
For reasons I do not understand the book cover isn’t coming up on this one but the link should get you to the concordance. A concordance is more difficult to recommend. This is the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Available on Amazon $25.49. There is also a Kindle version available $7.99. You will need to do a search for it, they are not in the same place. Strong’s is a King James concordance. I put it here because of the Greek and Hebrew tools which are not exhaustive but should get you what you need.
If you choose a different Bible translation than King James (and I recommend you do, particularly if you are new to Bible study, you may want to search on Amazon for a concordance in your particular translation. It will be easier but you may not have those Greek and Hebrew tools but they really aren’t necessary. If you are new to Bible Study, the Concordance in your translation, in my opinion, is more important than the Hebrew and Greek tools.
Psalm 9 is not really about Bible study. We will eventually get to a psalm that relates more to Bible study than Psalm 9. But, that difficult word Higgayon demonstrates the difficulty we can sometimes have but I think it also demonstrates what we can encounter in Bible Study. Don’t let some difficulty rob you of the blessings that come with Bible study. Bible study is important for any Christian. I hope you will take the time to do just that. Your church probably offers Bible studies as well.
Have a great day in the Lord.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for reuse of this material for non-commercial purposes