Isn’t this the question we most want answered in times of trouble? Why is this happening? Why isn’t God acting?
The psalmist asks the question for us:
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (v. 1)
Some think Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 were once a single Psalm, sung together. This would be the same author, then, who declared confidence in God as a stronghold in times of trouble in Psalm 9:10-11.
I take comfort in this. The confident can still have questions. God can seem far off even when we are taking refuge in Him. While we wait for God to act, it can appear that our enemies are winning. The psalms show us we can safely take our questions to God.
The psalmist has questions because he sees just exactly what the wicked are doing. So he lists their actions for God.
- hunt down the weak (v. 2)
- boast of their cravings (v. 3)
- revile, or harshly criticize, the LORD (v. 3)
- refuse to seek God (v. 4)
- think of themselves, not God (v. 4)
- ignore God’s laws (v. 5)
- boast of their invincibility (v. 6)
- curse, lie, and threaten (v. 7)
- murder the innocent (v. 8)
- lie in wait for the helpless (v. 9)
- crush their victims (v. 10)
- boast that God lets them get away with it all (v. 11)
The psalmist then makes an appeal to God to act.
Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless. (v. 12)
Don’t let the wicked get away with it!
Finally, the psalmist reminds himself of God’s promises.
The psalmist knows God’s Word. God promised to take care of the vulnerable – the widow, the fatherless, the refugee. One reference for His promise of protection for the vulnerable and His command that His people care for those He cares for is in Exodus 22:22-24 (ESV).
You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn…
God will hear the cries of the vulnerable and will act on their behalf.
The psalmist applies God’s truth to his present situation.
But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless. (v. 14)
The LORD is King for ever and ever…(v. 16a)
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. (v. 17-18)
God sees. God hears. He is King for ever and ever. He will defend the fatherless and the oppressed.
We can do what the psalmist does in Psalm 10.
Question. Appeal. Remind.
Question: Why, God? Why do you seem far off? Here are the unjust circumstances around me. Here are my feelings.
Appeal: Arise, God! Act on my behalf. Don’t forget the helpless.
Remind: Remind me, LORD, what you have said you would do. You see. You hear. You encourage. You listen. You defend the oppressed. You are King for ever and ever. The wicked will answer to You.
Father, sometimes you feel far away. It seems that the wicked are getting away with ignoring you and exploiting the helpless. Don’t forget me. Don’t forget the fatherless or the oppressed. While I wait, remind me of your promises. Thank you that you see me, you hear me, you defend me. You are King for ever and ever. The wicked will answer to you. I commit myself to you and thank you that you will act. Amen.