Raccoons! They are the scourge of campgrounds. They even look like bandits. Vicious and destructive, they prowl at night, rummaging in any container they can get their hands into. Psalm 10 is a cry of distress over the vicious destructiveness of a godless society. Yet, it has a message of hope in the midst of dark times and is a fitting prayer for our day.
A Dark Providence
When evil abounds, knowledge of God’s holiness and justice prompts the believer to ask, “Why?”
Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (v. 1)
Unbelief does not prompt these questions, faith does. Continuing injustice bewilders us because it defies God’s righteousness. When the darkness seems to overwhelm us, we cry to the one we know can remove it.
They Come Out at Night
In the very first psalm, the wicked was described as one who does not delight in God’s law (Psalm 1:1-4 see The Blessed Conflict). Here we see him with more detail.
The wicked has an inflated view of himself (“arrogance” v. 2) and operates from the mindset of unbelief. He tells himself, “there is no God” (v. 4). It may be the reasoned conviction of an atheist, but more commonly, it is a convenient self-deception.
He exposes his egotism and avarice by his foul chatter:
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. (v. 3)
The mouth is the spigot of the heart. From the wicked’s mouth comes “cursing”, “deceit”, “oppression”, “mischief”, and “iniquity” (v. 7).
However grand his plans seem to him, they are an affront to God’s omniscience and justice. “He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it'” (v. 11). Ignoring God’s standard, he judges himself successful and cannot see that judgment awaits him (v. 5). Sin is alway short-sighted (Prov. 1:18-19; Ecc. 11:9; Luke 12:15-21). His false sense of security grows delusional: “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity” (v. 6).
A Plea for Justice
Though called to patient endurance of evil (Rev. 14:12), the Christian is not to be complacent. We wait for justice with a sense of urgency: “Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted” (v. 12). In contrast to our secular culture, the believer lives with an awareness of the Judge’s night-piercing vision:
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless. (v. 14)
A Beacon of Hope
As knowledge of God’s character causes the saint to cry out, “Why?” when surrounded by rampant evil, so knowledge of divine sovereignty gives the believer hope and confidence.
The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (vv. 16-18)
Though dark times may hide God’s face, his children are confident their Father sees and hears — even hearing their desires. Deliverance may be delayed, but the Holy Spirit strengthens the heart of the saints to uphold righteousness and seek justice while they wait for vindication. They wait knowing that justice shall certainly prevail (cf 2 Thes. 1:5-8).
We also wait patiently in imitation of our patient God. Our Lord Jesus, who will come one day in fiery judgment, extends today his royal scepter of mercy to his enemies. God’s patience in our evil day means salvation for sinners who, like us, respond to the gospel in repentance and faith (2 Pet. 3:15). It is our privilege and duty to illuminate this dark world with that good news.