22 September 2016

Psalm 10:1-12

"Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? ... Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed." (vv. 1, 12)


For regular followers of A Word in Time who have been reading passages from Proverbs, some verses of this psalm could be rewritten as in a more proverb-like way. Verses 2 and 3 are possible examples. But a crucial difference between Psalms and Proverbs is that the psalms are addressed directly to God. The appeal to God "Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed" is particularly noteworthy. Both books, though, are regarded as Wisdom literature in the Old Testament.

In the Hebrew Psalms 9 and 10 are combined into one, and they have similar language and content. Psalm 9 gives thanks to God that the national enemies have been overthrown, whilst (in comparison) Psalm 10 bemoans the arrogant success of the wicked.

Psalm 10 can be divided into a number of parts - the first (verses 1-11) focuses on the corrupt and the wicked and their arrogance, the second part (verses 12-15) pays more attention to the oppressed appealing for divine intervention on their behalf, and the final three verses are an assurance of a just outcome.

Whereas the Old Testament prophets may focus on the actions of the wicked such as Amos who accusing them of being deceitful with false balances (Amos 8:5), the psalmist looks at their relationship with God. Or rather their lack of it: for example, verse 4 - "all their thoughts are, 'There is no God.'" This does not mean that the wicked deny the existence of God, but that they view God shows no concern and is ineffective.

The irony comes in verse 12, where the appeal is to the supposedly ineffective God.

To Ponder

  • Which do you prefer reading - the book of Proverbs or the Psalms? Why?
  • Today's passage ends at verse 12. How does reading the whole Psalm alter your view of it?
  • If someone says that God shows no concern and is ineffective, how would you respond?

Bible notes author

Ken Kingston

Ken Kingston preaches in the High Wycombe Circuit. He has worked for the Connexional Team since 1992 in a variety of roles and has been involved in 'Called by Name' and 'Time to Talk of God' amongst others.