Psalm Chapter 10: David Contemplates the Wicked

Feb 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Psalms, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Psa. 10:1 Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

Evidently, Ezra felt that Psalms 9 and 10 should be together, in proximity to each other, because of the theme in each.

Some of the Psalms were written before David was the king of Israel, some while he was king, and others in late life when he was infirm and feeble. The content of the Psalms thus far seems to suggest that David was enumerating experiences under the distress of seeing the prevalent behavior of the wicked, which was perhaps more obvious to him when he was fleeing from Saul. David may have been experiencing that situation now in the Tenth Psalm. He was in flight, fearing his life would be taken.

When David was king, his son Absalom caused a problem near the end of the 40-year reign.

David also had problems with Uriah and others. In addition, he had to fight enemies throughout his reign, for warfare of one kind or another was almost constant, both within Israel and beyond Jordan, both north and south. Therefore, to carry out the administration of justice was not as convenient in David’s reign as it was later during the reign of Solomon. In experiences throughout David’s life, he noticed the oppression of the poor, the orphans, and the widows and how those in positions of power took advantage of them. We think the oppression was distressing to David, for certainly he had empathy for the downtrodden.

However, he could not help the oppressed in a forceful way because outward providences prevented him from reigning in the fashion he would have liked. The Psalms give insight into David’s character and the fact that he did a lot of thinking. As earlier Psalms showed, he talked a lot about the wicked and the plight of the poor and the needy.

The questions of verse 1 show that David was very much like Job in that he wondered why God hides Himself in times of trouble. The hiding pertained to David personally as well as to the Israelites, who were in distress and need. As revealed in the Psalms, David knew that God  was permitting evil, and he could see that part of the holding back was to prove the righteous and the unrighteous in their deeds. The problem was that he did not realize the time element.

He yearned for injustices to be stopped quickly, but nothing happened, so he asked, “Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” Trouble happened over and over. David knew why trouble was happening, and yet he did not know why. Of course he did not know the plan of God for the human race because of the phase of Israel’s history in which he lived. The light of truth increases as time goes on. From Job’s day, there was an advance in the understanding of right and wrong. When Moses appeared on the scene and the Law was given, more information was made available. As the years elapsed through the Period of the Judges up to the time of the kings, more and more details of light were revealed. Finally, Jesus came, bringing life and immortality to light, among other things, and the call of a new gospel.

By his questions in verse 1, David implied that God saw the trouble but purposely stood afar off and did not intervene. In subsequent verses, David continued to pursue this theme, which troubled him for the moment. However, as the Psalms progressed, David developed and matured in understanding. The Ninth Psalm showed he had some insight into the Kingdom and knew Messiah would deal with the wicked. Of course there are two comings—the First Advent and the Second Advent—but David knew from a prophecy in the Law that when Messiah came, there would be a radical change of some kind. In studying the Psalms, we see David’s progress in understanding. In a sense, then, the Psalms are somewhat sequential, for they show this development. They were written in five books, and we are still in the first book.

Comment: The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour” (Isa. 45:15). This text harmonizes with verse 1.

Reply: Yes, the co-relationship is apparent.

David was a wonderful character to start with, as shown by the slaying of Goliath, for example.

The entire nation of Israel lacked the faith that David had as a young man. It is easy to see why he was a man after God’s own heart. He just happened to live before the call of the Gospel Age to the divine nature.

Psa. 10:2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

David was looking for retribution, and that seems to be the type of character God is seeking.

The main problem in the Truth movement today is the “love bug”—the thought that when the wicked come forth in the Kingdom Age, they will be forgiven carte blanche and that everyone (or almost everyone) will be saved. However, the Scriptures indicate that stripes will be administered. Some are so enamored with the concept of God’s mercy in the Kingdom that they forget the wicked sometimes live a long life, leaving a trail of violence and murder behind them, and die rather peacefully. Will they come forth with a clean slate in the Kingdom? No!

Therefore, David had the right thought that those who love righteousness should also hate iniquity (Psa. 45:7). Incidentally, he prayed for perfect hatred, and we should do likewise (Psa. 139:22). We use the terminology “righteous indignation,” and certainly God is looking for that component of the Christian character—a love of righteousness and a hatred of iniquity.

A study of the Psalms helps us to see why God loved David. Of course David could not perform perfectly, but he dwelled on these principles. We have the same problem in the present life, but God takes the real will for the deed. Fortunately, we are covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. The problem is to keep the robe unspotted externally.

Comment: In the Psalms already considered, we have seen this theme about the wicked falling by their own counsels.

Psa. 10:3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.

The wicked bless the wicked, their fellow compatriots. Those of a kindred spirit join hands in covetousness along the lines of the flesh, money, power, etc. They revel in their desires.

The intent of David’s heart was right, but the flesh at times was weak. The standard of his day was not as high as it is in the Gospel Age.

Psa. 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

God is not in the thoughts of the wicked. They may believe in a God, but because they do not see Him punishing evil and stopping it right away, they do not believe in a God of justice who is observing them. Those who habitually do wrong things become incorrigible. David saw that the wicked would come forth in the Kingdom but that they would get retribution (Psa. 9:3).

Based on what David observed, the character of the incorrigible is being formed and hardened to such an extent in the present life that when they are awakened in the Kingdom Age, they will not pass the exam and get life. David was very observant of human behavior. Because of circumstances, he was unable to do more, but he knew that God is able. Therefore, he prayed for that time to soon come, just as we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”

Comment: Verse 4 is a reminder of when Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life…. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you…. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” (John 5:40,42,44).

Reply: In many instances, David was a picture of Christ and his experiences. Another pertinent strong statement was, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:33). The implication is that some in Jesus’ day were incorrigible. The big difference is that of the incorrigible at that time, certain individuals will not get an awakening from the tomb because Jesus was present and they saw his works, yet they sinned willfully in paying bribes to the tomb guards to keep quiet about his body. Thus not only Judas but also others who lived and died before Pentecost could merit Second Death. In two Reprint articles, the Pastor so stated.

A great portion of Jesus’ statements and parables were strong language. He was not always soft and courteous, but of course he could read the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees. Since we cannot read the heart, we can only see the deeds of the unrighteous.

Psa. 10:5 His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.

Psa. 10:6 He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.

Psa. 10:7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

David was speaking truth. There did not seem to be much hope for individuals who committed such acts. However, since those of David’s day did not know about Christ, they have to come forth from the tomb and learn of the true Messiah, and then they can be judged accordingly.

There is such a thing as searing the conscience, meaning that the conscience is no longer operative. The individual says in his heart, “I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.”

“His ways [the ways of the wicked] are always grievous; thy [God’s] judgments are far above out of his sight.” David saw that God’s judgments were out of the sight of the wicked in the sense that He was not inflicting punishment right way, but the wicked think God is indifferent to human behavior. David wanted to know more about why God permits persistent wicked behavior. He knew, but he did not know. In our Christian walk too, we observe experiences we cannot understand fully, but we know that God is aware of what is happening, that He has permitted the situation, and that He will take care of it in His own due time. We thank God for the cumulative knowledge available in the Harvest period that helps us greatly in our walk.

Comment: God watches us to see whether we are willing to compromise principle. Will we stand firm where evil is involved no matter who is at fault? Friendship or kinship should not affect our stand for principle, for example.

Reply: In several instances in David’s life and behavior, he had individuals summarily and abruptly put to death for good reasons. However, his supreme test came with his own son Absalom. While the test was hard for him, especially back there without the light that is available to us, he overcame and was amenable to God’s providences in the death of Absalom.

The Christian who is nearing graduation for the high calling will likewise be sorely tested through a relative or a friendship. We should anticipate that such a test will confront us in some form. Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me [in the sense of getting the high calling]” (Matt. 10:37). Jesus is looking for disciples who will follow him in spite of all else.

The statement “under his tongue is mischief and vanity” reminds us of a snake with its venom.

What are some other Scriptures along this line?

Comment: “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Rom. 3:13,14).

Comment: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). “An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45).

Reply: The Apostle James asked, ”Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11). The implied answer is no.

Psa. 10:8 He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.

Psa. 10:9 He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.

Psa. 10:10 He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.

Almost the entire Psalm dwells on the wicked and their premeditated deeds, covetousness, and violence. We are reminded of what Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Aren’t these characteristics very much like the devil? The descriptions fit his character. Satan humbled himself to reason with the woman through the serpent; that is, he came down to her level through the mouth of the serpent. In order to achieve their purposes, the fallen angels conveniently pose as a friend. Those who pretend to be a friend but have ulterior motives of mischief are our worst enemies. They step on others to advance themselves. As a result of Satan’s deflection, he got hardened in wrongdoing.

David continued to mourn at seeing the grievous evil and God’s delay in bringing retribution.

Without the permission of evil, we could never perceive our Heavenly Father as a God of justice. When He finally expunges the incorrigible, it will be manifest to all that such individuals merited Second Death because of their deeds. God has to let them manifest their incorrigible characters so that we can understand He is a God of justice. If we did not see the fruits of their deeds, we might imagine that He overreacted in permanently destroying individuals.

As Bro. Oscar Magnuson used to say, “Had those who become saints seen the fire come down on Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have sung a hallelujah chorus,” for the destruction manifested evil being expunged from a segment of the human race. We need to have a perfect hatred. As Solomon said, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: … A time to love, and a time to hate” (Eccl. 3:1,8). “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time … for every purpose and for every work” (Eccl. 3:17).

“He [the wicked] lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den … to catch the poor.” What could be worse? “He croucheth, and humbleth himself, [so] that the poor may fall.” Figuratively speaking, the poor are meat for the lions. Robbers have their own secret code; namely, there is strength in union. The wicked admire one another in their respective perverse fields—sex, violence, etc.

Psa. 10:11 He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.

If God did not hide His face, how would we know that a wicked person is wicked? The wickedness comes out; their deeds show that wickedness is a part of them. The temporary permission of evil is the wisest method that God could have used. Although the permission of evil seems like an eternity from our perspective, it is really a drop in the bucket; the Scriptures liken it to a dream.

Psa. 10:12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

David uttered this simple, earnest plea for God to hearken to his prayer on behalf of the humble.

Psa. 10:13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

“Wherefore doth the wicked contemn [scorn, disdain] God?” Here is an insight into the real inner thinking of the wicked: “Thou [God] wilt not require it.” The Lord’s people have to be constantly reminded, lest they forget, that God said in advance, “I am going to prove you” (Deut. 8:2). For example, in the age before the Flood, God allowed the holy angels to come down here and try to lift mankind out of the mire of sin. Instead, not only did they fail, but many of them stayed down here longer than was required and took unto themselves wives.

Therefore, God’s proving method seems to be that He purposely delays intervention on behalf of injustice to see what man will do. Will we obey His commands? The passage of many, many years without intervention leads those with an improper heart condition to reason that God is not concerned or that He is powerless. The seemingly abnormal length of time without retribution and judgment is a test. Evidently, Satan thought the delay was a sign of God’s weakness. Over time, if we do not study the principles in God’s Word, we can drift into all kinds of harmful imaginations.

Psa. 10:14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.

Psa. 10:15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

David had the faith to realize that God knows about the injustices, oppression of the poor, etc., that are going on. Then he began to reason with God, pleading on behalf of the poor and presenting their cause. “The poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.” Faith was speaking here. On the one hand, David asked why the fatherless were not being helped or given relief, and on the other hand, he said God knows what is happening.

David not only did not demean God in any sense of the word but made the wondrous statement that He is “the helper of the fatherless.” What was the basis for that statement?

David knew that God had intervened at the time of the Flood, sparing just eight souls. He also knew that God had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and he was aware of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Although all of these experiences happened suddenly when the due time came, there was a delay. At least a century passed with the mixing of human and angelic seed before the Flood intervened. Evil conditions prevailed in Sodom and Gomorrah for less than a hundred years before the judgment took place. Lot sat in the gate as a judge for a period of time, and his righteous soul was vexed with the increasing lawlessness (2 Pet. 2:7,8). The children of Israel were in Egypt for 215 years before the Exodus occurred. David, who lived in the Period of the Kings, gave considerable thought to God’s method or principle of delayed judgment, and now, again, the wicked seemed to prevail. As far as we know, the Tenth Psalm was written during the reign of Saul, before David was king and while he was fleeing from the king as a refugee. Although this time period of evil was shorter than the other periods, David was hoping for swift retribution. Being very concerned about what he was witnessing in the society of Israel at that time, he hungered for a judgment. It is not improper to ask God for such action, for otherwise, we would not pray for God’s Kingdom of righteousness to come.

We can see that David was a thinker.

Incidentally, when Lot and Abraham entered the Promised Land, Lot chose the fertile, wellwatered area of Sodom and Gomorrah. Of course the Dead Sea did not exist at that time, and the river Jordan coursed down from Lebanon into Israel and emptied into the Gulf of Eilat, one finger of the Red Sea. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by a giant earthquake was so great that it blocked the Jordan River a little south of those cities, damming up the fresh water.

As a result, that part of the river became the Dead Sea. Thus the evil was limited to the time period between Lot’s first seeing Sodom and Gomorrah and the destruction.

Psa. 10:16 The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

The word “is” was supplied by the translators. A more accurate rendering would be, “The LORD be King for ever and ever.” Verse 16 was a prophetic utterance by David. The Holy Spirit, which mechanically operated through the prophets of old, gave this assurance to David.

As Christians, we may occasionally have peculiar times when a matter is on our heart and mind, and then, perhaps in response to a question, we will say something without really knowing it. When an individual repeats back our words, we ask in a good sense, “Did I say that?” Similarly, the Holy Spirit infused David’s mind to give him an assurance in a mechanical fashion. In faith, David saw that God would answer his prayer.

To us, verse 16 is prophetic, showing that during God’s Kingdom and Christ’s reign, the “heathen” will perish out of the land. Faith sees the accomplishment. Stated another way, God sees the end from the beginning, and by faith and confidence in God’s promises, we can enter into that condition, to a certain extent, through the Holy Spirit.

Psa. 10:17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

Psa. 10:18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

“LORD, thou hast heard [past tense] the desire [David’s prayer] of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed.” Somehow in verse 16, David was given an assurance, an answer to his prayer, but not with a time definition.

“That the man of the earth may no more oppress.” The aggression of fallen man will no longer be tolerated in the Kingdom.

Q: Does the expression “thou wilt prepare their heart” refer to the hearts of the humble?

A: Yes. David wished to publish, or make known, his Psalms for manifold reasons. One reason was that they were a form of repentance and confession for some of his misdeeds that were publicly known. In addition, when the Psalms were put to music with instruments of David’s choosing, he thought the mood for the words of the Psalm would be established. He had different reasons for expressing publicly that which comforted him, and he desired to comfort others. The preaching of the gospel is similar. David was making known his feelings and how God was dealing with him in order to help and comfort those who found themselves in somewhat similar straits. The Psalms were David’s method of witnessing and praising God.

The desire of the humble, who were being oppressed, was for deliverance and remedial action. They were asking for help. David assured the humble that if they were patient and endured the experience a little longer, their petition would be answered in spite of the sorrow and the injustices they were going through. In many of the Psalms, David showed that the wicked do not have much chance to get life, for they will not turn from their evil ways. Nevertheless, everyone is guaranteed to know about Christ and to have the opportunity for life and salvation. How much guilt an individual acquires and how he  responds are another matter. The great majority will come forth in the Kingdom Age, but some characters are so hardened that the individuals will be biding their time for the Kingdom Age to be over so that they can return to their previous practices (Amos 8:5,6). David, Job, and even Moses saw this situation.

 

 

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