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10. Psalm 10

Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

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

3For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.

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

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

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

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

8He 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.

9He 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.

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

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

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

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

14Thou 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.

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

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

17 Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

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

12. Arise, O Jehovah. It is a disease under which men in general labor, to imagine, according to the judgment of the flesh, that when God does not execute his judgments, he is sitting idle, or lying at ease. There is, however, a great difference with respect to this between the faithful and the wicked. The latter cherish the false opinion which is dictated by the weakness of the flesh, and in order to soothe and flatter themselves in their vices, they indulge in slumbering, and render their conscience stupid, 226226     “Et prenent plaisir kassop et rendre leur conscience stupide, afin de se flatter en leurs vices.” — Fr. until at length, through their wicked obstinacy, they harden themselves into a gross contempt of God. But the former soon shake from their minds that false imagination, and chastise themselves, returning of their own accord to a due consideration of what is the truth on this subject. 227227     “Retournans d’eux mesmes a bien considerer ce qui enest a la verite.” — Fr. Of this we have here set before us a striking example. By speaking of God after the manner of men, the prophet declares that the same error which he has just now condemned in the despisers of God had gradually stolen in upon his own mind. But he proceeds at once to correct it, and resolutely struggles with himself, and restrains his mind from forming such conceptions of God, as would reflect dishonor upon his righteousness and glory. It is therefore a temptation to which all men are naturally prone, to begin to doubt of the providence of God, when his hand and judgment are not seen. The godly, however, differ widely from the wicked. The former, by means of faith, check this apprehension of the flesh; while the latter indulge themselves in their froward imagination. Thus David, by the word Arise, does not so much stir up God, as he awakens himself, or endeavors to awaken himself, to hope for more of the assistance of God than he presently experienced. Accordingly, this verse contains the useful doctrine, that the more the ungodly harden themselves, through their slothful ignorance, and endeavor to persuade themselves that God takes no concern about men and their affairs, and will not punish the wickedness which they commit, the more should we endeavor to be persuaded of the contrary; yes, rather their ungodliness ought to incite us vigorously to repel the doubts which they not only admit, but studiously frame for themselves.

13. Why doth the wicked despise God? It is, indeed, superfluous to bring arguments before God, for the purpose of persuading him to grant us what we ask; but still he permits us to make use of them, and to speak to him in prayer, as familiarly as a son speaks to an earthly father. It should always be observed, that the use of praying is, that God may be the witness of all our affections; not that they would otherwise be hidden from him, but when we pour out our hearts before him, our cares are hereby greatly lightened, and our confidence of obtaining our requests increases. Thus David, in the present passage, by setting before himself how unreasonable and intolerable it would be for the wicked to be allowed to despise God according to their pleasure, thinking he will never bring them to an account, 228228     “A leur plaisir n’estimans pas que jamais il les amenast le conte.” — Fr. was led to cherish the hope of deliverance from his calamities. The word which is here rendered despise, is the same as that which he had used before. Some translate it to provoke, and others to blaspheme. But the signification which I have preferred certainly agrees much better with the context; for when persons take from God the power and office of judging, this is ignominiously to drag him from his throne, and to degrade him, as it were, to the station of a private individual. 229229     “Au rang des hommes.” — Fr. “To the rank of men.” Moreover, as David had a little before complained that the ungodly deny the existence of a God, or else imagine him to be constantly asleep, having no care about mankind, so now he complains to the same purpose that they say, God will not require it.

14. Thou hast seen it; for thou, etc Here David, suddenly kindled with a holy zeal, enters into conflict, and, armed with the shield of faith, courageously repels these execrable opinions; but as he could derive no advantage by making his appeal to men, he has recourse to God, and addresses him. As the ungodly, in the hope of enjoying unrestrained license in the commission of all kinds of wickedness, withdraw to the greatest possible distance from God, 231231     “Se reeulent le plus loin de Dieu qu’ils peuvent.” — Fr. and through the dictates of a perverse mind, imagine themselves to be far beyond his reach; so, on the contrary, the faithful ought carefully to keep themselves aloof from those wild opinions, which are afloat in the world, and with minds lifted upward, to speak to God as if present with them. Accordingly, David, in order to prevent himself from being overcome by the blasphemies of men, very properly turns away his attention from them. There is added a reason in confirmation of the first sentence of the verse, namely, because God considers mischief and vexation Since it is the peculiar province of God to take cognisance of all wrongs, David concludes that it is impossible for God to shut his eyes when the ungodly are recklessly and without restraint committing their outrages. Moreover, he descends from the general to the particular, which ought to be attentively marked: for nothing is easier than to acknowledge in general terms that God exercises a care about the world, and the affairs of men; but it is very difficult to apply this doctrine to its various uses in every-day life. And yet, all that the Scripture says concerning the power and righteousness of God will be of no advantage to us, and, as it were, only matter of meagre speculation, 232232     “Sera de nulle utilite et comme un speculation maigre.” — Fr. unless every one apply these statements to himself, as his necessity may require. Let us therefore learn, from the example of David, to reason thus: that, since it belongs to God to take notice of all the mischief and injuries which are inflicted on the good and simple, He considers our trouble and sorrows even when he seems for a time to take no notice of them. The Psalmist also adds, that God does not look down from heaven upon the conduct of men here below as an idle and unconcerned spectator, but that it is his work to pass judgment upon it; for to take the matter into his own hand, is nothing else than duly and effectually to examine and determine it as a judge.

It is, however, our duty to wait patiently so long as vengeance is reserved in the hand of God, until he stretch forth his arm to help us. We see, therefore, the reason why it is immediately added, Upon thee shall the poor leave. By these words David means, that we ought to give the providence of God time to manifest itself. The godly, when they are afflicted, may with confidence cast their cares into his bosom, and commit themselves to his protection. They ought not, however, to be in haste for the accomplishment of their wishes; but, being now disburdened, they should take their breath till God manifestly declare that the fit time of interfering in their behalf is come. The man, therefore, leaves upon God who betakes himself to his protection, and who, fully persuaded of his faithfulness in keeping what is entrusted to him, quietly waits till the fit time of his deliverance come. Some read the verb passively, The poor shall be left upon thee. The first reading, however, is more correct, and it agrees with the rules of grammar; only it is a defective form of expression, inasmuch as the thing which the poor leaves is not expressed. But this defect is common in Hebrew; and there is no obscurity in the thing itself, namely, that, when the godly commit themselves and their concerns to God by prayer, their prayers will not be in vain; for these two clauses are closely connected, Upon thee shall the poor leave, and, Thou shalt be a helper to the fatherless By a metaphor he terms the person fatherless whom he had in the preceding clause called poor. And the verb being in the future tense denotes a continued act.

15. Break thou the arm. This form of expression just means breaking the power of the wicked. And it is not simply a prayer; it may also be regarded as a prophecy. As the ungovernable fury of our enemies very often makes us lose courage, as if there were no means by which it could be restrained, David, in order to support his faith, and preserve it from failing through the fears which presented themselves, sets before himself the consideration, that whenever it shall please God to break the power of the ungodly, he will bring to nothing both themselves and all their schemes. To make the meaning the more evident, the sentence may be explained in this way, — Lord, as soon as it shall seem good to thee to break the arm of the wicked, thou wilt destroy him in a moment, and bring to nought his powerful and violent efforts in the work of doing mischief. David, indeed, beseeches God to hasten his assistance and his vengeance; but, in the meantime, while these are withheld, he sustains himself by the consolatory reflection, that the ungodly cannot break forth into violence and mischief except in so far as God permits them; since it is in his power, whenever he ascends into the judgment-seat, to destroy them even with his look alone. And certainly, as the rising sun dissipates the clouds and vapours by his heat, and clears up the dark air, so God, when he stretches forth his hand to execute the office of a Judge, restores to tranquillity and order all the troubles and confusions of the world. The Psalmist calls the person of whom he speaks not only wicked, but the wicked and the evil man, and he does so, in my judgment, for the purpose of setting forth in a stronger light the greatness of the wickedness of the character which he describes. His words are as if he had said, Wicked men may even be frantic in their malice and impiety; but God can promptly and effectually remedy this evil whenever he pleases.

16. Jehovah is King for ever and ever. David now, as if he had obtained the desires of his heart, rises up to holy rejoicing and thanksgiving. When he calls God King for ever and ever, it is a token of his confidence and joy. By the title of King, he vindicates God’s claim to the government of the world, and when he describes him as King for ever and ever, this shows how absurd it is to think to shut him up within the narrow limits of time. As the course of human life is short, even those who sway the scepter over the greatest empires, being but mortal men, very often disappoint the expectations of their servants, 234234     “Bien souvent frustrent leurs serviteurs de leur attente.” — Fr. as we are taught in Psalm 146:3, 4,

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

Often the power of giving assistance to others fails them, and while they are delaying to give it, the opportunity slips away from them. But we ought to entertain more exalted and honorable conceptions of our heavenly King; for although he does not immediately execute his judgments, yet he has always the full and the perfect power of doing so. In short, he reigns, not for himself in particular; it is for us that he reigns for ever and ever. As this, then, is the duration of his reign, it follows that a long delay cannot hinder him from stretching forth his hand in due season to succor his people, even when they are, as it were, dead, or in a condition which, to the eye of sense and reason, is hopeless. — The heathen are perished out of the land The meaning is, that the holy land was at length purged from the abominations and impurities with which it had been polluted. It was a dreadful profanation, when the land which had been given for an inheritance to the people of God, and allotted to those who purely worshipped him, nourished ungodly and wicked inhabitants. By the heathen he does not mean foreigners, and such as did not belong to the race of Abraham according to the flesh, 235235     “Et des personnes qui ne fussent de la race d’Abraham selon la chair.” — Fr. but hypocrites, who falsely boasted that they belonged to the people of God, just as at this day many, who are Christians only in name, occupy a place in the bosom of the Church. It is no new thing for the prophets to call apostates, who have degenerated from the virtues and holy lives of their fathers, by the reproachful name of heathen, and to compare them not only to the uncircumcised, but also to the Canaanites, who were the most detestable among all the heathen.

“Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite,” (Ezekiel 16:3)

Many other similar passages are to be met with in Scripture. David, therefore, in applying the dishonorable name of heathen to the false and bastard children of Abraham, gives God thanks for having expelled such a corrupt class out of his Church. By this example we are taught, that it is no new thing if we see in our own day the Church of God polluted by profane and irreligious men. We ought, however, to beseech God quickly to purge his house, and not leave his holy temple exposed to the desecration of swine and dogs, as if it were a dunghill.

17. O Jehovah, thou hast heard the desire of the needy. In these words the prophet confirms what I have just now said, that when hypocrites prevail in the Church, or exceed the faithful in number, we ought, unceasingly, to beseech God to root them out; for such a confused and shameful state of things ought surely to be matter of deep grief to all the true servants of God. By these words, also, the Holy Spirit assures us, that what of old God granted to the fathers in answer to their prayers, we at the present day will obtain, provided we have that anxious solicitude about the deliverance of the Church which we ought to entertain. The clause which follows, Thou wilt direct their hearts, is variously interpreted by expositors. Some think it signifies the same thing, as if it had been said, Thou wilt give success to their desires. According to others, the meaning is, Thou wilt frame and sanctify their hearts by thy grace, that they may ask nothing in prayer but what is right and according to the divine will, as Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit

“stirs up within us groanings which cannot be uttered,” (Romans 8:26)

Both these expositions are perhaps too forced. David, in this clause, magnifies the grace of God in sustaining and comforting his servants in the midst of their troubles and distresses, that they may not sink into despondency, — in furnishing them with fortitude and patience, - in inspiring them with good hope, - and in stirring them up also to prayer. This is the import of the verb כין, Kin, which signifies not only to direct, but also to establish. It is a singular blessing which God confers upon us, when, in the midst of temptation, he upholds our hearts, and does not suffer them to recede from him, or to turn aside to any other quarter for support and deliverance. The meaning of the clause which immediately follows, Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear, is, that it is not in vain that God directs the hearts of his people, and leads them, in obedience to his command, to look to Himself, and to call upon him in hope and patience — it is not in vain, because his ears are never shut against their groanings. Thus the mutual harmony between two religious exercises is here commended. God does not suffer the faith of his servants to faint or fail, nor does he suffer them to desist from praying; but he keeps them near him by faith and prayer, until it actually appear that their hope has been neither vain nor ineffectual. The sentence might, not improperly, be rendered thus: Thou shalt establish their heart, until thine ear hear them.

18. That thou mayest judge. Here the Psalmist applies the last sentence of the preceding verse to a special purpose, namely, to prevent the faithful, when they are unjustly oppressed, from doubting that God will at length take vengeance on their enemies, and grant them deliverance. By these words he teaches us, that we ought to bear with patience and fortitude the crosses and afflictions which are laid upon us, since God often withholds assistance from his servants until they are reduced to extremity. This is, indeed, a duty of difficult performance, for we would all desire to be entirely exempted from trouble; and, therefore, if God does not quickly come to our relief, we think him remiss and inactive. But if we are anxiously desirous of obtaining his assistance, we must subdue our passion, restrain our impatience, and keep our sorrows within due bounds, waiting until our afflictions call forth the exercise of his compassion, and excite him to manifest his grace in succouring us.

That the man who is of earth may no more terrify them. David again commends the power of God in destroying the ungodly; and he does it for this purpose, - that in the midst of their tumultuous assaults we may have this principle deeply fixed in our minds, that God, whenever he pleases, can bring all their attempts to nothing. Some understand the verb ארף, arots, which we have translated to terrify, as neuter, and read the words thus, — that mortal man may be no more afraid. But it agrees better with the scope of the passage to render it transitively, as we have done. And although the wicked prosper in their wicked course, and lift up their heads above the clouds, there is much truth in describing them as mortal, or men liable to many calamities. The design of the Psalmist is indirectly to condemn their infatuated presumption, in that, forgetful of their condition, they breathe out cruel and terrible threatenings, as if it were beyond the power of even God himself to repress the violence of their rage. The phrase, of earth, contains a tacit contrast between the low abode of this world and the height of heaven. For whence do they go forth to assault the children of God? Doubtless, from the earth, just as if so many worms should creep out of the crevices of the ground; but in so doing, they attack God himself, who promises help to his servants from heaven.


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