1 Why, O LORD, do You stand far away? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
2 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 His ways prosper at all times; Your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8 He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 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.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, He has hidden His face, He will never see it.”
12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Your hand; forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 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.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till You find none.
16 The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from His land.
17 O LORD, You hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
At the beginning of the psalm, David questions the presence of God, asking why He’s hiding Himself. Then interestingly enough, at the end, he confesses God sees all the evil he just described and even hears the cries of the afflicted and the oppressed. When we read this, we have to make a decision: Is David being foolish, or is he just being human? I’m privy to the latter.
The question David is calling to mind is something we all have done in the past, perhaps in the recent past. It’s human to question God’s presence; perhaps it’s also foolish. There have been times in my life when I questioned God’s presence. Something terrible would happen and I’d say, “God, where are You?” It’s easy to question God’s presence in the midst of adversity. When things are going well and according to our plan (note: our plan), we immediately see God in it and give Him thanks and praise. Of course, it’s always good to give thanks and praise to God when He bestows blessings upon us. Yet it’s human nature to forget God’s loving character and fail to see His presence when something bad happens.
We take Jesus’ words for granted, “I am with you, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). Jesus was not exaggerating when He said this. He is always with us, even (and especially) when it doesn’t feel like it. It’s one thing to expect God to look like God; it’s another to find Him here with us in the midst of adversity. We expect God to look like God and act like God—that is, to bless our lives with abundant goodness.
When something goes wrong, we either think we did something wrong and God is punishing us, or we think He’s abandoned us for some unjustifiable reason. Neither of those are true. Why is it that we don’t expect Him to remain with us in our suffering? Jesus has spoken beautiful words of invitation, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus invites us to lay our burdens upon Him. He is able to handle your problems. After all, the greatest burden of the sins of the entire world were laid upon Him on the cross. Jesus is more than able to handle your anxieties, your anger with the evil in this world, whatever it is.
I won’t be going through segments of this psalm like I have in my past commentaries because they’re generally saying the same thing. David begins with questioning God’s presence, then he lists his observances of the actions of evil people in the world during his time. He lists the type of people who acquire goods through wicked means while renouncing God, outright atheism and the ignorance of atheists, the arrogance of evil people, their types of destruction, and so on. It’s satisfying to know that David—one of the greatest kings of Israel—was just like us. He was someone who utterly depended on God and though he had great faith, he still struggled from time to time with the evil circumstances of the world.
Consider what’s been going on in our own world today. The persecution of Christians by ISIS, the increasing atrocities of mass shootings, the sudden media focus on police brutality, the murder of infants in abortion, and so on. If all we do is focus on these evils, it’s easy to question God’s presence. But suddenly, at the end of the psalm, David calls upon the “hidden” God for deliverance. I find this almost humorous. David claims God is hiding Himself, yet he calls upon Him even though He’s “hiding.”
If He’s hiding, how can He hear you? Perhaps at this point in the psalm David realizes his foolishness and knows God is always present. Not only that, but he confesses by faith that God indeed sees the mischief being done to His people. “You may take it into Your hands,” he says, meaning he knows God will deal with it. In verse 14 he remembers how God has helped the fatherless, and in verse 16 he remembers how God has destroyed His enemies in the past. In this verse he is referencing the Canaanites, whom God had crushed. He knows God will strengthen the hearts of His people because He hears their cries.
Where David started this psalm with doubt, He looked back to God’s past actions and promises and remembered who He is, and utilized the rule of faith. The rule of faith is what God’s people understand about God and His salvation. Like David, whenever we begin to doubt, we can look back to past actions—whether in our own lives or in the Scriptures—and come to Christ in faith. Just because we fail to recognize God’s presence doesn’t mean He’s absent. Our failure to see God’s presence is not a fault of His, but rather ours in our sin. Throughout Scripture we see the inner workings of God’s plan for salvation, yet these inner workings were unknown to the people at the time.
For example, while the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt for 400 years, God was already putting things into work to bring about their liberation through Moses. Even though they suffered and likely questioned God’s presence, God was still there and doing His work in His own timing. Four hundred years might seem like a long time to us, but “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). God’s ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9); we can never know what God may be doing in the background while evil persists. Evil and tribulation are to be expected, as Jesus has warned us, but He has overcome the world (John 16:33). And we have the hope of conquering as He has, for “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:39). Remember that faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). By faith, we know God is always present even though it appears to our finite eyes that He’s absent. Although the world is full of evil, it is by faith in which we trust in the Lord’s providence and presence. God is within us as the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19); therefore, He never departs from us.
Psalm 10 Prayer
Father, in my sin You feel far to me. I recognize that it is I who has strayed, not You. Draw me near to You. I know You are with me; help me to believe it. Help my unbelief! I come to You now to place at the foot of the cross all that burdens me [list what they are]. I have sought after You, and You have heard me. Let Your will be done for Your glory. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
Garrick Sinclair "Ricky" Beckett first started his Christian writing on a blog titled "The Lutheran Column" where he hires proficient Lutheran writers to convey biblical truth. Along with the blog, he also writes poetry, string quartets in music composition, enjoys doing photography, reading, and playing video games. Ricky is a graduate from Concordia University-Ann Arbor from the Pre-Seminary program with a major in Christian Thought and a minor in Theological Languages. Currently, Ricky is a seminarian at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as he works on his Masters of Divinity to become a pastor in the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod).
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