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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.

4. The ungodly, in the pride of his countenance, etc Others translate the words, The ungodly man, by reason of the violence of his anger, or, in the pride which he displays, does not inquire after God. But this partly perverts the meaning, and partly weakens the force of what David intended to express. In the first place, the word inquire, which is here put absolutely, that is, without any noun which it governs, is, according to this translation, improperly limited to God. David simply means, that the ungodly, without examination, permit themselves to do any thing, or do not distinguish between what is lawful and unlawful, because their own lust is their law, yea, rather, as if superior to all laws, they fancy that it is lawful for them to do whatever they please. The beginning of well-doing in a man’s life is inquiry; in other words, we can only begin to do well when we keep ourselves from following, without choice and discrimination, the dictates of our own fancy, and from being carried away by the wayward propensities of our flesh. But the exercise of inquiring proceeds from humility, when we assign to God, as is reasonable, the place of judge and ruler over us. The prophet, therefore, very properly says, that the reason why the ungodly, without any regard or consideration, presume to do whatever they desire, is because, being lifted up with pride, they leave to God nothing whatever of the prerogative of a judge. The Hebrew word פף, aph, which we have translated countenance, I have no doubt is here taken in its proper and natural signification, and not metaphorically for anger; because haughty persons show their effrontery even by their countenance.

In the second clause, the prophet more severely, or, at least, more openly, accuses them, declaring that all their wicked imaginations show that they have no God. All his devices say, There is no God 200200     The sentence in the Hebrew text is elliptical, and hence it has been variously translated. Literally it is, “No God all his thoughts.” The Syriac version renders it, “There is no God in all his thoughts.” The Septuagint reads, Οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ θεὸς ἐνώπιον αὐτου, “God is not before him.” Mudge renders it, “No God is all his wicked politics;” Horsley, “No God is the whole of his philosophy.” and Fry, “There is no Elohim is all his thought.” By these words I understand, that through their heaven-daring presumption, they subvert all piety and justice, as if there were no God sitting in heaven. Did they truly believe that there is a God, the fear of the judgment to come would restrain them. Not that they plainly and distinctly deny the existence of a God, but then they strip him of his power. Now, God would be merely like an idol, if, contented with an inactive existence, he should divest himself of his office as judge. Whoever, therefore, refuse to admit that the world is subject to the providence of God, or do not believe that his hand is stretched forth from on high to govern it, do as much as in them lies to put an end to the existence of God. It is not, however, enough to have some cold and unimpressive knowledge of him in the head; it is only the true and heartfelt conviction of his providence which makes us reverence him, and which keeps us in subjection 201201     “Qui nous le fait avoir en reverence et nous tient le subjets.” — Fr. to him. The greater part of interpreters understand the last clause as meaning generally, that all the thoughts of a wicked man tend to the denial of a God. In my opinion, the Hebrew word מזמות, mezimmoth, is here, as in many other places, taken in a bad sense for cunning and wicked thoughts, 202202     “Pour meschantes et malicieuses pensees.” — Fr. “Wicked and malicious thoughts.” so that the meaning, as I have noticed already, is this: Since the ungodly have the hardihood to devise and perpetrate every kind of wickedness, however atrocious, it is from this sufficiently manifest, that they have cast off all fear of God from their hearts.

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