Life Perspectives: Psalm 10

Psalm 10 (NIV)

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
    who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
    he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
    in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous;
    your laws are rejected by him;
    he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
    He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

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, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror.

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This Psalms is a continuation of the acrostic that we looked at last Sunday, Psalm 9.  An Acrostic, as you recall, is a poetical form where every verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm powerfully juxtaposes two different perspectives on life and on the unfolding of human history. There is the human perspective and there is the divine perspective.

The psalm opens with the psalmist caught in trouble and wondering why the Lord seems so distant and unconcerned: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (v. 1). At every turn, the psalmist sees the righteous perishing and the wicked prevailing. This psalm is not content to merely describe the wicked; it actually brings us into the inner thought life of the wicked. “In all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous” (vv. 4–5). Three times the psalmist brings us right into the inner thought life of the wicked: “He says to himself, ‘Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble’” (v. 6). “He says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees’” (v. 11). “Why does he say to himself, ‘He won’t call me to account’?” (v. 13). The circumstances of the psalmist and the wicked seem to confirm this arrogant attitude. This is life and history from the human perspective.

Psalm 10 also gives us a beautiful glimpse into the divine perspective: “The Lord is King for ever and ever” (v. 16). From the perspective of the Enthroned One, we see the final end of the two paths. All the schemes of the wicked will be brought out into the light of God’s divine justice: the arm of the wicked will be broken, and they will have to give an account for their wickedness. The nations will perish. In contrast, the righteous will find in the end that the afflicted will be heard, the fatherless and the oppressed will be comforted, and today’s terror will be replaced by the joy of his divine presence. So, take heart! Remember that the day of the Lord is coming and all things will be set right!

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