Praying the Psalms: Psalm 10

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer. Psalm 10 is a continuation of Psalm 9. The two are connected thematically. The two also share an acrostic patter in the writing that continues into Psalm 10. In addition, their is no subscription to Psalm 10, indicating it is a continuation from the previous psalm. Psalm 10 is largely focused one big question. Why does God allow the wicked to prosper and get away with it? It is a perplexing question that even the most devoted Christians wrestle with in understanding God. Indeed, we can’t fully understand. Psalm 10 is a humble inquiry into the mind and will of God that culminates in an unshakeable faith in the goodness and justice of God.

Commentary

v. 1–11 - The Psalm begins with a question. “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?” If we are honest, in the present sufferings we face and in the wickedness of this world, it seems like God is absent. From the tyranny of Islamic terrorism to the rape and murder that floods the news or to the men and women who prosper in wealth by taking advantage of the weak, we cry out, “Where are you God?” The psalmist is wrestling with the same question that we wrestle with today. If God is completely in control and perfectly good, why does he allow evil to continue?

The psalmist spends the first half of this psalm describing the wicked who prosper. They take advantage of the poor. They are greedy in their lusts. They are proud and resist and reject the Lord. These wicked people openly mock the Lord stating “There is no God”. Yet, at least in the present, the wicked seem to continue to prosper at all times. Their unrestrained evil seems to continue with God not lifting a finger to do anything to put a stop to it. God’s judgments seem high and out of sight. The wicked perform such evil knowing that they will get away with it. They say in such proud self confidence, “I shall not be moved”.

The description against the wicked continues. They are filled with mischief and deceit. They ambush villages and murder anyone in their way. Like a lion on the prowl he keeps his eye always open for the weak, the runt, and the helpless to devour. The poor are drawn into a net for their own destruction. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall.

In v. 11, their is a stunning confession of the wicked man’s heart. He arrogantly states, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” How many people today live just like this wicked man. They do things thinking no one will ever know, that they will never be found out, and that no one will ever see it. So many of us operate and live our lives thinking God is not watching. In summary, the wicked described in Psalm 10 are arrogant selfish brutes who take advantage of the weak and openly mock and defy God, yet the continue to prosper.

v. 12–15 - The reality of the wicked prospering is to much for the psalmist to watch. In v. 12, he turns to prayer begging God to arise and lift his hand. He is asking the Lord to do something and to intervene in the evil all around him. Yet, the psalmist affirms that though the wicked will say that God will not hold them accountable, the psalmist knows the truth. Even though the wicked think their evil deeds will never be revealed, God sees all. No matter their scheming and their deception, God knows. Every man secretly enjoying the perverse titillation of child pornography to the sexual trafficking taking place in a dark ally in India, God sees it all. Though wicked men think they are getting away with their evil deeds in secret, He sees their mischief and vexation. God does not turn a blind eye to evil. In fact, God knows the horrors and evil of this world better than any human being ever could.

Yet, God does not only see the evil of the wicked, he plans to take action. He is a God who protects the helpless and commits himself to their cause. Spiritually, we know this to be true. In Jesus’ arrival he came and surrounded himself with the weak and helpless. The Gospel of the kingdom came to the outcasts and oppressed in society. Jesus came to deliver us from our sins, and save us not only from our personal sins, but to restore this broken and fallen world from wicked men.

One day, Jesus will come back for his church and break the arm of the wicked and evildoer. Those who practice such evil, greed, murder, and oppression will one day stand before a holy and blameless God to give an account. Every secret motive of the heart and every evil action done in secret will be revealed. As Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. There is a coming day of judgement, and on that day justice will be administered. The wicked will one day be exposed, naked, before the frightening and terrifying holiness of the glory of God. Those not in Christ will find themselves cast away from his presence into the eternal death and torment in hell.

v. 16–18 - The Psalm concludes with an affirmation and trust in God’s just rule. God is King forever and ever. God hears the cry of the afflicted. He will bring about justice to the fatherless and to the oppressed.

By the end of the Psalm, though there is a celebration of God’s kingship, the question is not fully revolved. Yes, the wicked will one day be held to account, but why does God allow them now to prosper? Why is his judgement and justice delayed? Well there are a few reasons why the Scriptures tell us. One of them is that God is being merciful in delaying his judgement so that his kindness is meant to lead to repentance (Rom 2:4). If God was to execute all of his justice immediately the sin was committed, than no human being would be left in existence. God in his kindness delays his just wrath towards the wicked in order to give them an opportunity to repent and trust in Christ.

Yet, the question of why God allows evil acts to continue ultimately remains a mystery. We are not God and we are not sovereign. He is. Therefore, as we struggle sometimes as to why God seems to be so very far away in light of the evil we experience in our lives, we can trust knowing that he is a good God who knows all. We know that he hears the cause of the afflicted and he will one day hold the wicked account for their actions in the final judgement. In those moments of struggle, as we witness evil men and women prosper, we can rest assured that there is coming a day when Christ returns when the King of Kings will execute his perfect justice “so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

Prayer Guide

  • Express your concerns to God concerning the evil you witness.
  • Ask the Lord to intervene and bring justice in those situations
  • Praise the Lord that he knows all and is not ignorant of human evil.
  • Praise God for Jesus and for the day of his return to come quickly.
  • Express your concerns to God knowing that he hears the desire of the afflicted