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Psalm 10 – A Song of Confidence in God’s Triumph over Evil

BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41

In Psalm 10 David complains of the wickedness of the wicked, describes their great dishonour of God and the prejudice of His people. He prays to God to appear against them for the relief of His people and comforts himself with hopes that He would do so in due time.

Psalm 10 – A Psalm of David

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble? The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts. His ways are always prospering; Your judgments are far above, out of his sight; As for all his enemies, he sneers at them. He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity.” His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity. He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the secret places he murders the innocent; His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless.

He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den, lying in wait to catch the poor. Then he draws them into his net and catches them. So he crouches, he lies low, That the helpless may fall by his strength. He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten and He hides His face;
He will never see.” Arise, O Lord! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble. Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.” But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand.

The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; Seek out his wickedness until You find none. The Lord is King forever and ever; The nations have perished out of His land. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

He alone can make them better

Henry says – David starts by complaining of feelingly as though God has withdrawn His gracious presence (Ps. 10:1): “Why do You stand afar off? God’s withdrawals are very grievous to His people at any time, but especially in times of trouble. Outward deliverance seems afar off and hidden from us. So we then think God is afar off and we want inward comfort. But we judge by outward appearances. It is us who stands afar off from God by our unbelief. Then we complain that God stands afar off from us.

David sees the transgressors and is grieved and brings to his heavenly Father their evil report. As one earnestly desiring a reformation of their characters. Passionate tirades against bad men do more hurt than good. If we will speak of their badness, let it be to God in prayer, for He alone can make them better.

God resists the proud

(Ps. 10:2), The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor. There are two things laid to their charge, pride and persecution, the former the cause of the latter. Proud men will want others to be of the same mind, to say as they say and to submit to their dominion. Those who either escape them or will not yield to them they hate with an chronic hatred. Tyranny, both in state and church, owes its origin to pride.

The Psalmist, having begun this description, inserts a short prayer: Let them be taken, as proud people often are, in the devices that they have imaginedPs. 10:2. Let their counsels be turned headlong, and let them fall headlong by them. They are very proud and extremely conceited. He wondered why God did not speedily appear against them, for He hates pride, and resists the proud. The sinner boasts of his heart’s desire, boasts that he can do what he pleases (as if God Himself could not control him).

Friendship of the world is enmity to God

Ephraim said, I have become rich, I have found wealth for myselfHos. 12:8. He proudly contradicts the judgment of God of which we are sure of. God abhors covetousness of worldly goods. Those who make money their God and idolise it. He looks upon them as His enemies, and will have no communion with them. The friendship of the world is enmity to God. The proud applaud those as wise whom God pronounces foolish (Luke 12:20). They justify those as innocent whom God condemns as deeply guilty before Him. They admire those as happy, in having their portion in this life, whom God declares, upon are truly miserable. 

The proud casts off thoughts of God, and all dependence upon Him and devotion to Him (Ps. 10:4). The wicked, through the pride of his countenance. That pride of his heart which appears in his very countenance. (Prov. 6:17), will not seek after God, nor entertain the thoughts of Him. God is not in all his thoughts, not in any of them. All his thoughts are that there is no God. The nature of impiety and irreligion is not seeking after God and not having Him in our thoughts. They have a secret wish to have no dependence upon Him and not to be beholden to Him.

God’s judgments are in sight

Men will not seek after God because they think they have no need of him, their own hands are sufficient for them. They think it a thing below them to be religious, because religious people are few and despised. He proudly makes light of God’s commandments and judgments (Ps. 10:5): His wings are always grievous. The proud man will have his way, though ever so tiresome to himself and frustrating to others. He believes that God’s judgments are far out of his sight.

Tell him of God’s judgments which will be executed upon those who go on in their trespasses, and he will not be convinced that there is any truth in them. They are far above out of his sight, and therefore he thinks it is mere folklore. The proud despises all his enemies, and looks upon them with the utmost disdain. He puffs at those whom God is preparing to be a scourge and ruin to him, as if he could baffle them all.

He is proudly defiant and is confident of the continuance of his own prosperity (Ps. 10:6): He hath said in his heart, and pleased himself with the thought, I shall not be moved, my goods are laid up for many years, and I shall never be in adversity. Like Babylon, that said, I shall be a lady for everIsa. 47:7; Rev. 18:7. Those are nearest to ruin who think they can set it furthest from them.

Those who have power are to protect the innocent

The proud are very oppressive to all within their reach. (Ps. 10:7): His mouth is full of cursing. Those he cannot do a real mischief to, he will spit his venom at, and breathe out the slaughter which he cannot execute. So have God’s faithful worshippers been cursed. Where there is a heart full of malice there is commonly a mouth full of curses. They are very false and treacherous. There is mischief designed, but it is hidden under the tongue for his mouth is full of deceit and vanity. He has learned from the devil to deceive, and so to destroy. With this his hatred is covered, Prov. 26:26. He cares not what lies he tells, nor what oaths he breaks to accomplish ends.

They have not the least sense of honesty and honour. They devise mischievous designs against the innocence and poor. Those who have power ought to protect the innocent and provide for the poor. Yet these will be the destroyers of those whose guardians they ought to be. And what do they aim at? It is to catch the poor, and draw them into their net. To get them into their power, not to strip them only, but to murder them. They hunt for precious life. It is God’s poor people that they are persecuting. Against whom they bear a mortal hatred for the sake of Whose they are and Whose image they bear. Therefore they lie in wait to murder them: He lies in wait as a lion that thirsts after blood.

God will in due time appear for them

The devil, whose agent he is, is compared to a roaring lion that seeks whom, he may devour. They are base and hypocritical (Ps. 10:10): He crouches and humbles himself, as beasts of prey do, that they may get their prey within their reach. The sordid spirits of persecutors and oppressors will stop at nothing for the accomplishment of their wicked plans. Just like the scandalous practices of Saul when he hunted David. They cover their malicious designs with the pretence of humility and kindness to those they design the greatest trouble to. The concerns of their victims they make their own but simply to make a prey of them.

They have shaken off all sense of religion, and risen up in rebellion against the light. He hath said in his heart, God has forgotten. When asked how he would answer to the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, he retorts with, God has forsaken the earthEzek. 8:12; 9:9. This is a blasphemous reproach. As if God cannot see what men do in this lower world. As though He would never reckon with them, nor punish them. Let those who suffer from proud oppressors know that God will in due time appear for them. For those who are abusive to them are abusive to God Almighty also.

Arise, O Lord!

David prays that God Himself would appear (Ps. 10:12): “Arise, O Lord! O God! lift up Your hand, manifest Your presence and providence in the affairs of this lower world. Arise, O Lord! to the confusion of those who say that You hide Your face. Manifest Your power, exert it for the maintaining of Your own cause. Lift up Your hand to give a fatal blow to these oppressors. Let Your everlasting arm be made bare.” That God would appear for His people: “Do not forget the humble, the afflicted, that are poor and are poor in spirit. Their oppressors, in their presumption, say that You have forgotten them. They, in their despair, are ready to say the same. Lord, let it be seen that they are both mistaken.”

He continues to pray that He would appear against their persecutors, Ps. 10:15. That He would prevent them from doing any mischief. We read of oppressors whose dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged (Dan. 7:12), that they might have time to repent.

God is patient and long-suffering towards them

The Psalmist speaks with astonishment at the wickedness of the wicked: “Why do they speak so impiously, why so absurdly?” It is a great trouble to good men to think what contempt is cast upon the holy God by sinners. All his precepts, promises, threatenings, favours and judgments are despised and made light of. Why do the wicked destain God? It is because they do not know Him. Yet God is patient and long-suffering towards them: “Why does He not immediately vindicate Himself and take vengeance on them?” It is because the day of reckoning is yet to come, when the measure of their iniquity is full.

Let the persecuted encourage themselves with a well-grounded faith. God has seen all the mischief that is done by the hands of the oppressors and all the malice that lurk in their hearts. But You, O Lord, will pay it back upon themselves, by Your just and avenging hand.”

David pleads the dependence which the oppressed have upon God: “The poor commits himself unto You, each of them does so, I among them. They rely on You as their patron and protector. The poor refer themselves to You as their Judge at whose disposal they are willing to be. They leave themselves with You”, “not prescribing, but subscribing, to Your wisdom and will. As their oppressors dishonour You, they give You even more honour. They are Your willing subjects, and put themselves under Your protection; therefore protect them.”

Father to the fatherless

God is King for ever and everPs. 10:16. It is the office of a king to administer justice for the restraint and terror of evil-doers. To whom should the injured subjects appeal but to the sovereign? Help, my Lord, O King! Avenge me of my adversary. “Lord, let all who pay homage and tribute to You as their King have the benefit of Your government and find You their refuge.

You are an everlasting King, and so by an eternal judgment You dispense rewards and punishments in an everlasting state. When time shall be no more. As a good God. He is the helper of the fatherless (Ps. 10:14), of those who have no one else to help them and have many to injure them. He has appointed kings to defend the poor and fatherless (Ps. 82:3), and therefore much more will He do so Himself. For He has taken it among His titles to be a Father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5), a helper of the helpless.

David pleads and reminds God that He had heard and answered their prayers against past enemies (Ps. 10:17): “Lord, You have many a time heard the desire of the humble, and never said to a distressed petitioner, Seek in vain. Why may we not hope for the continuance and repetition of the wonders and favours, which our father told us of?” You are the same, and Your power, and promise, and relation to Your people are the same. Why may we not hope that He who has been will still be, will ever be, a prayer hearing God?”

He prepares our hearts

First God prepares the hearts of His people and gives them an answer of peace. So we might know that God working in us, is an assurance that He is working for us. He prepares the heart for prayer by kindling holy desires, and strengthening our most holy faith. He enables us to fix our thoughts and raise our affections. Then He graciously accepts the prayer. He prepares the heart for the mercy that we want and pray for. He makes us fit to receive it and use it well, and then gives it in to us. The preparation of the heart is from the Lord, and we must seek Him for it (Prov. 16:1).

In answer to prayer, Ps. 10:18, He will plead the cause of the persecuted and judge the fatherless and oppressed. He will restore their comfort and recompense them for all the loss and damage they have sustained. He will put an end to the fury of the persecutors. They shall come so far, but no further. Now that he had been considering God’s sovereignty David now makes light of the power of that proud persecutor whom he had been describing. He is but a man of the earth, a man out of the earth (so the word is) and therefore weak, and returning to the earth again. Why then should we be afraid of the fury of the oppressor when he is but man that shall die, a son of man that shall be as grassIsa. 51:12.

God has this oppressor in a chain

He who protects us is the Lord of heaven. He who persecutes us is but a man of the earth. God has this oppressor in a chain and can easily restrain the remainder of his wrath. When God speaks the word Satan shall no more deceive (Rev. 20:3) and no more oppress.

In singing this psalm and praying over it may it affect our hearts with a holy indignation at the wickedness of the oppressors. Let it give us a tender compassion of the miseries of the oppressed and a pious zeal for the glory and honour of God. We can have a firm belief that He will, in due time, give redress to the injured and reckon with the perpetrator.

Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary

 The Day of Trouble
 Offer to Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving
 And pay your vows to the Most High,
 Then call upon Me in the day of trouble.
 I will deliver you, you will not die.
 So it is in My Kingdom. When that
 man of faith makes a sudden 
      demand upon Me
 Upon My stores and lo! That 
      demand is met.
 The world asks how can it be?
 It thinks the man has special powers
 But does not see that what has been paid in
 In thanks and praise, faithfulness 
     and steadfastness
 For it looks on the outside, 
     not from within.
 So with you, my children
 Live only for self to die.
 With joy offer to God the sacrifice 
     of thanksgiving
 And pay your vows to the Most High.
 Then you will realise
 My beauty in all you do
 Joyfully you will call upon Me in 
     the day of trouble
 And I will deliver you.
 This is a promise for the seemingly dull days
 Of little happenings, and a cheer for you.
 And even for the big things
 You feel unable to do.
 Your little acts and words of faithfulness
 They are secure in My hand.
 Yes in My great storehouse
 I will be ready for the day of your 
    greatest demand.
 By the late Andrew Feakin 
 [passed away 16th March 2019]

Prayer for the Day

Father I come to You. I pay homage to You as my King. It is to You alone that I appeal for all my injuries. You are my Sovereign Lord. In You I find refuge. You are an everlasting King, and so You dispense rewards and punishments in an everlasting state. You are a good God, the helper of the helpless and a Father to the fatherless.

For any who oppress me I earnestly desire a reformation of their character. Remind me that passionate tirades against bad men do more hurt than good. If I will speak of their badness may it be only be to You in prayer, for You alone can make them better. I trust that in due time You will come through. Whenever I am tempted to say that You have forgotten me, remind me how mistaken I am.

Help us encourage ourselves

When I and others are persecuted help us encourage ourselves with well-grounded faith. For You have seen all the mischief that is done by the hands of the oppressors. I commit myself to You and rely on You as my patron and protector. I defer to You as my Judge and lay myself at Your disposal and dare not prescribe, but subscribe, to Your wisdom and Your will. You put me under Your protection and I know that You protect me. Your power, promise and relation to Your people are the same yesterday, today and forever. I have hope that You who have been, will still be, will ever be, a prayer hearing God.

Father I acknowledge that it is you who prepares my heart and I seek You for it. Kindle holy desires and strengthen in me a most holy faith. Help me fix my thoughts and raise my affections heavenward. Prepare my heart for the mercy that I pray for and fit me to receive it and use it well. I look to You to restore my comfort and recompense me for any loss and damage I have sustained. I believe that You will put an end to the fury of all persecutors. You allow them to come so far, but no further.

In praying over this Psalm may it affect my heart and give me tender compassion toward the miseries of the oppressed. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 10

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