Psalm 10: Standing Far Away
"Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
"For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, There is no God.
"His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.
"His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
"He lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.
"He says in his heart, God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.
"Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, You will not call to account?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.
"Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.
"O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
Psalms 10:1-18 (ESV)
What do you think?
- With what question does David begin this psalm, and what answer is given him?
- What have you asked of the Lord, yet have not gotten an answer?
- In this psalm, what changes David's frustration and despair into faithful exultation?
- In prayer, is asking "Why?" an exercise in hopelessness? Should Christians avoid asking God "Why?".
- Is it difficult for you to imagine Jesus as the future Ruler of all the world, "breaking the arm of the wicked and evildoer", destroying those who now strike terror throughout?
Psalms 9 and 10 together follow an acrostic pattern. In the Septuagint, the original Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, these form one psalm.
The contrast between these two psalms is striking. Psalm 9 applauds God's righteous, stern judgement upon the nations who act wickedly, forgetting God, afflicting others. It ends in a war-like call to arms:
"Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men!"
Psalms 9:19-20 ESV
Psalm 10, however, begins in frustration and despair:
"Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"
Psalms 10:1 ESV
Much of Psalm 10 describes the wicked:
- Arrogantly pursecuting the poor
- Greedy for gain
- Proudly cursing and renouncing the LORD
David sees himself as having no strength to resist the wickedness around him. He regards himself to be part of the helpless poor, the murdered innocent people, the children made fatherless.
However, we see an image of David suddenly standing resolutely near the end of Psalm 10, raising his fist against the wicked, calling loudly for help from the only One with power sufficient to destroy the lion-like wicked people around him:
"Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted."
Psalms 10:12 ESV
David joins together Psalms 9 and 10 into a single song, proclaiming "Arise, O LORD!"