Summary: The theme is a familiar one in all periods of church history, including today: the apparent impunity with which ruthless men go their self-seeking way, regardless of God or man, allowing neither morality nor humanity to set limits to their methods or.....
February 20, 2014
Title: A Prayer for the Overthrow of the Wicked.
Psalm 10 (NIV)
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off ? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5 His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble."
7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. 8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims.
9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, "God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees."
12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
Apart from the acrostic relationship of psalms 9 and 10 (see introduction to Psalm 9), they are also linked in theme and phrasing. The theme is a familiar one in all periods of church history, including today: the apparent impunity with which ruthless men go their self-seeking way, regardless of God or man, allowing neither morality nor humanity to set limits to their methods or objectives. The psalmist appears to be an observer rather than one of the oppressed himself, though he may be that too.
The problem in Psalm 9 is the enemy invading from the outside, while the problem in verse 10 is the enemy corrupting and destroying from the inside. Israel was surrounded by wicked nations [“You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever” (Ps. 9:5)], but there were also wicked people, fellow Hebrews, within the nation (v. 4), people who claimed to know God, but their life showed they did not know God at all. They knew there is a God, but they live as though there is no God or no final judgment. They are “practical atheists” who are their own gods and do whatever they please.
In contrast to the prayer at the end of the preceding psalm, David now points to the present condition of the world, where God seems to have permitted the wicked to triumph over the righteous, by the misuse of power (vv. 1-11). He then appeals to the righteous to act, to set the matter right, confident that the King of the world will do so (vv. 12-18).
The psalm begins with the psalmist wrestling with the age-old problem, “Why doesn’t God do something about the prosperity of the wicked (vv. 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 15) and the misery of the afflicted (2, 8-10, 12, 14, 17, 18)?” The wicked appear to be succeeding throughout the country, but God seems distant and unconcerned. God has expressed a special concern for widows, children, and the helpless, yet when it takes place, he is not to be found [“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Ps. 68:5) He is their father in a literal sense, since He shows them mercy, takes care of them, and protects them; and this is the character of the great God which he often assumes, partly to express his power and providence over them, and partly to signify his tenderness, mercy, and goodness to them.]. The psalmists asks, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off ?” We stand far off from God by our unbelief, and then complain that God stands far off from us. The next complaint would naturally follow: “Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” as though he didn’t want to see what was happening or get involved in their troubles.