Psalm 10: Part 1 of 3 (series: Lessons on Psalms)
by John Lowe
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 psalmist 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.
The psalmist describes these wicked people in verses 2-13, what they do and why they do it. He makes four statements that express what they believe, because what they believe determines how they will behave. Then in verses 14-18, the writer expresses his full confidence that God is on His throne, and has everything under His control. The Lord may not explain to us why some people seem to get away with their evil deeds, but He does assure us that He will judge sinners and ultimately defend His own. In verses 14-18, the Lord answers all four statements of the wicked that are declared in verses 2-13.
Statement #1: “There is no God.” (vv. 2-4, esp. v. 4). Believing this lie frees the wicked to do whatever they please, for they become their own god. “You shall be as God” (Gen. 3: and 6:5). The wicked cleverly plot against the righteous and hotly pursue them until they get what they want. These evil workers live to please themselves and fulfill their selfish desires, and then brag about their sins! “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:18-21). They obey their sensual appetites. They glory in shameful things. They mind earthly things instead of setting their affections on the things that are above (Col. 3:1).. They revile the Lord (vv. 3, 13) and “stick their nose up” when anybody challenges them.
Answer: “God is King” (v. 16). The wicked claim that there is no God (vv. 1-4), but the truth is that God is and He rules over all! (See 2:6; 5:2; 24:7-10; 29:10; 1 Sam. 8:6-7). After their deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites sang praises to their King: “The Lord shall reign forever and forever” (Ex. 15:18).
Statement #2: “I shall not be moved” (vv. 5-7). This arrogant attitude comes from an ignorance of the laws of God, because unconverted people have no understanding of the Word of God or the ways of God (1 Cor 2:10-16). Because God is longsuffering, they think they are getting away with their sins “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong” (Eccl. 8:11) When God delays His punishment, he is merely exercising patience and longsuffering to answer some purpose of His. Peace and prosperity gives them a false sense of security that will end very suddenly (see Luke 12:13-21 and 1 Thess. 5:1-3). Telling lies and swearing oaths they never intended to keep, they escape the penalties of the law and pursue their devious ways. Like people savoring tasty food, they keep lies under their tongues and enjoy them (Job 20:12-15; Prov. 4:17). Paul quoted verse 7 in Romans 3:14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness” (Rom. 3:14). It is the godly who have God’s promise of true security “Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.”.
Answer: “God defends His own people” (vv. 17-18). The wicked boast that they will not be moved (vv. 5-7), but God has other plans for them. He hears the prayers of the persecuted. He sees their plight, He strengthens their hearts for whatever trials He permits “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28)., and He eventually judges those who abuse them. People of faith can depend on the God of heaven, but the self-confident and arrogant “people of the earth” have no future with the Lord. Life without the Lord is empty and vain. Christians have their citizenship in heaven “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20), and their names are written down in heaven “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). They don’t belong to this world, although their ministry is in this world. God’s people have been “redeemed from the earth” (Rev. 14:3) and have heaven as their home. The phrase, “them that dwell on the earth” is found often in the book of Revelation (3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:2, 8) and describes not only where these unbelievers live but what they live for—the things of the earth. The “earth dwellers” may seem to have the upper hand today, but wait until the Lord reveals his hand!