New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 10:1 Why do You stand far off, Yahweh? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?- David starts off feeling like this, but by the end of the Psalm he is taking comfort in the fact that God is going to come near in judgment (:17,18). This doesn't have to mean that half way through the prayer, an answer came. Rather is this absolutely true to the experience of prayerful men. We begin prayer in desperation, but in the course of that prayer we are persuaded of God's action, and conclude the prayer in grateful peace with Him. The Psalm was perhaps reapplied to the feelings of the exiles, who along with Job, complained that God was apparently standing far off from them (Is. 45:15; Job 23:9).


Psa 10:2 In arrogance the wicked hunt down the weak. They are caught up in the schemes that they devise-
The language of hunting down suggests this Psalm was originally composed during Saul's wilderness persecution of David; see on :15. David continually accuses Saul of "arrogance" in the Psalms he wrote reflecting upon Saul's persecution of him
; whereas Saul begins as an apparently humble man who doesn't feel worthy to be king, hiding himself to avoid being king (1 Sam. 10:22), and restraining himself when some mocked him as an inappropriate leader (1 Sam. 10:27). Saul's descent into apostasy was therefore primarily a descent into pride. Being called to do something for God so often makes men pride, when the invitation is intended to humble us; just as David's psalm of humility in Psalm 8 after killing of Goliath was a protestation of humility. "Who am I, to do this work for You?" ought to be our sense. However we will note on Ps. 10:10 that Saul had a false humility; so perhaps his initial humility was not genuine.

Psa 10:3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s cravings; he blesses the greedy, and condemns Yahweh-
Saul's boasts are not recorded really in the historical records; but the Psalms are full of reference to them (see on :2). It's unlikely that Saul actually 'condemned Yahweh' in so many words. But we have an example here of how God reads human words and actions for what they in fact imply; see on :11. Saul's blessing of the greedy may refer to his blessing of the Ziphites for betraying David to him (1 Sam. 23:21). They were "greedy" in that they did so in hope of reward from Saul.

Psa 10:4 The wicked, in the pride of his face, has no room in his thoughts for God-
All basic Bible doctrines are meshed together, not only by logic and theory and exposition, but by the fact that one aspect of the spiritual life which they elicit leads into another. The existence of God means that there will be a judgment, and therefore our lives must reflect the fact that we believe that we live under judgment. The wicked think: "He will not require it. All [their] thoughts are, There is no God" (Ps. 10:4 RV). They admit there is a God insofar that they think God will not "require" an account of their lives; and thus effectively they act as if they are atheists. Their inward self-talk is that "There is no God". Thus they say: “God has forgotten… He will never see.” Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account” (Ps. 10:11,13). Note the parallel between their thinking "There is no God" (:4), and thinking that God will not "require" our thoughts and actions of us one day. To believe in God is to believe in His ultimate judgment of us. And thus it would be true that if there were no God, anything would be possible for us.

Psa 10:5 His ways are prosperous at all times-
LXX better reflects the ambiguous Hebrew: "His ways are profane at all times".

He is proud, and Your laws are far from his sight. As for all his adversaries, he sneers at them- Again, Saul is accused of pride in that he considered himself above Divine law, thereby condemning God (:3).

Psa 10:6 He says in his heart, I shall not be shaken. For generations I shall have no trouble-
It was Saul's intention to found a dynasty, hence his anger with Jonathan for not wanting to be part of it, and instead supporting David as the next king. The civil war which followed Saul's death reflected his attempts to found a ruling dynasty.

Psa 10:7 His mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression; beneath his tongue is mischief and iniquity-
David is very critical of all his enemies, especially Saul. He sets up a contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous. But his attitude changed somewhat after his sin with Bathsheba, in connection with which he did much of what he accused Saul of, not least willfully exposing Uriah to an ambush so he would be murdered. Therefore Rom. 3:14 quotes this verse (from the LXX) and applies it to all men, the righteous included; leading to the conclusion that we are only made righteous by grace through faith.

Psa 10:8 He lies in wait near the villages. From ambushes, he murders the innocent, his eyes are secretly set against the helpless-
Robbers did not usually murder; so we are to imagine that David has specifically in view Saul's desire to ambush and murder David. "The innocent... the helpless" is how David often describes himself in the Psalms. For "ambushes", see on :7.

Psa 10:9 He lurks in secret as a lion in his ambush. He lies in wait to catch the helpless. He catches the helpless, when he draws him in his net-
AV has "the poor" for "helpless". As explained on :7, David's hard judgments against his enemies came home against him; for it was he who arranged the ambush and murder of "the poor" Uriah (2 Sam. 12:1). Therefore Rom. 3:14 quotes :7 LXX and alludes to this whole section- and applies it to all men, the righteous included; leading to the conclusion that we are only made righteous by grace through faith.

Psa 10:10 The helpless are crushed. They collapse. They fall under his strength-
AV "He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall". The allusion is to a lion crouching before pouncing (:9). But the language used is that of crouching in humility; the idea is that a false humility was used to destroy others. I discussed on :2 the apparent humility of Saul when he began his reign; but this was perhaps the pride which apes humility. For we see such fake humility all around us.

Psa 10:11 He says in his heart, God has forgotten. He hides His face. He will never see it-
 It's unlikely that Saul actually 'condemned Yahweh' in so many words. But we have an example here of how God reads human words and actions for what they in fact imply; see on :3.

Psa 10:12 Arise, Yahweh! God, lift up Your hand! Don’t forget the helpless-
There is a repeated Biblical theme that the believer's relationship with the Father too is essentially mutual. David lifts himself up to God (Ps. 25:1; 28:2; 86:4), and asks God to lift up Himself in response (Ps. 7:6; 10:12; 94:2).


Psa 10:13 Why does the wicked person condemn God and say in his heart, God won’t call me into account?-
The implication may be 'Why does the wicked do this and get away with it?'. And the answer of course was that he will not get away with it finally, because judgment day will come. See on :3,11. Like Job, during the course of his reflections, David leads himself to recognizing that judgment day will come, but it must be yet future. And he the more longs for that final "day of the Lord" when men like Saul shall be called to account for their internal mental attitudes, and will answer for what they have said in their hearts.

Psa 10:14 But You do see trouble and grief. You consider it to take it into Your hand to deal with. You help the victim and the fatherless-
As discussed on :1, David in the course of this prayer persuades himself of the final truth- that there will indeed be a future day of judgment, and God is right now 'considering' or gathering evidence, seeing all the trouble and grief; and finally He will save the victims.

Psa 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked, as for the evil man, seek out his wickedness until You find none-
Whatever the primary reference of this Psalm, it is a reworking of David's feelings when persecuted by Saul and likewise on the run from him. For circumstances repeat in our lives, and it would be natural for David to reconsider Psalms written at the time of one exile and apply them to another, just as these Psalms were also used for others in their times of exile. "Wickedness" is the word used about Saul's persecution in 1 Sam. 24:13. As Saul had 'sought out' David in persecuting him, so David asks God to seek out Saul. See on :2. Sin must be dealt with, and only in eternal death will it finally be sought for and not found- unless it is dealt with now by repentance and Divine covering. This is a powerful argument that the wages of sin is indeed death (Rom. 6:23), rather than anything else, such as eternal punishment.

Psa 10:16 Yahweh is King forever and ever! The nations will perish out of His land-
David the king repeatedly calls God his "king". His exaltation didn't lead him to pride, as he was always under the deep impression that he was not the ultimate king (Ps. 5:2; 10:16; 29:10; 44:4; 47:6).

Psa 10:17 Yahweh, You have heard the desire of the humble. You will prepare their heart. You will cause Your ear to hear-
 Often, “desire” is seen by God as prayer (Ps. 10:17; 21:2; 27:4; 59:10; 92:11; 140:8; 145:19; Mt. 18:32; Rom. 10:1; 1 Jn. 5:15). God interprets that inner desire as prayer, even if it is not articulated in specific requests.  And His response is to "prepare their heart". This is evidence enough that God works directly upon the human heart and psychology, which He does today through the work of His Spirit upon the human spirit. For it is men who must prepare their heart in prayer and relationship toward God (s.w. 2 Chron.  12:14; Job 11:13; Ps. 7:9). But God can also do this for the humble. Hence David later asks God to create in him a 'prepared' heart (s.w. Ps. 51:10). And God heard; for the same phrase is used of how God 'prepared' or (AV) "fixed" his heart (Ps. 57:7; 108:1; 112:7). In allusion to this, Solomon was to later reflect that God can direct or 'prepare' (s.w.) the heart of man, even if he is thinking to direct his steps elsewhere (Prov.  16:9).

Psa 10:18 to judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that man who is of the dust may terrify no more
In God’s judgment of men it will be made apparent that it was so inappropriate for man who is made of dust to oppress his fellows (Ps. 10:18 RV). Respect of others is sorely lacking in our selfish natures. But the more we reflect upon our own insignificance, as creatures of dust, the more we will see that abuse of others in any form is inappropriate. And we don’t have to wait till judgment day to perceive this- for we know the mortality and constitution of man from basic Bible teaching. This link between our mortality and humility is brought out in Paul’s description of our present state as being “the body of our humiliation” (Phil. 3:21 RV). Believing we are mortal ought to be a humbling thing.