The Call of the Righteous (10:1)
A familiar refrain
The nature of this psalm is one that we will see from time to time as we study the Psalms. This psalm deals with the cry of the righteous concerning the ways of the ungodly. This is not an uncommon refrain from the mouths of the righteous. It is very easy for the righteous to consider the ways of the wicked and wonder what is going on. So many times we feel like the righteous are the only ones who suffer while the wicked continue to get their way while being disobedient. This thought process will be examined in this psalm.
The initial words of the psalmist describe the situation that he feels. Notice that the psalmist feels that the Lord is far from Him. Further, the psalmist declares that the Lord has hidden Himself from him in his time of trouble. This is the not the first time that we have seen this kind of language, nor will it be the last, where the righteous feel that they have been forsaken by God. We have spoken on a few occasions about what we are to do when we have a feeling that we have been forsaken. In this psalm, the psalmist makes a very important first step of turning to God. Many times Christians are tempted to turn their ways to the ungodly because they believe they see some benefits that the righteous do not have. The psalmist will now describe the works of the ungodly. Some of these works we would readily see as godless, yet some we may not see as such a big deal. Yet these works are condemned by God and require our careful examination to be sure that these characteristics are not in our lives.
The Character of the Ungodly
Pride is one of the more subtle sins that goes unrecognized by most Christians and is allowed to remain in our character. Pride can creep into our characters and it can be very hard to detect unless we are very honest and open with ourselves. We often only equate arrogance with being snobby and stuck up. These are obvious signs of arrogance. But there are more subtle ways that we are arrogant that we may not realize.
Arrogance, in its simplest form, is being concerned with self rather than with others. When we think our way is the best way, we are arrogant. When we think that people ought to be more concerned about us, then we are full of pride. When we get hurt because people are doing things unlike we expect, then we have fallen into the error of self-exaltation. We must see the subtle forms of pride. Arrogance is present anytime we are thinking about ourselves or acting upon our own behalf. This is not the example of Christ. The psalmist goes on to describe the actions of the arrogant.
First, it is the arrogant who devise schemes for others. This is arrogance because such people do not believe that they will be held accountable for their actions or that they will fall by their own hand. They think that they can continue to weave their webs of deceit and not be caught. The arrogant are those who put a premium on their own desires. That is all that matters to the person: what they need to do or want to do. That which is in one’s heart is king. This is the prevalent attitude of society, which is if it feels good, then that is what you are to do and no one can argue with you. Such an attitude is condemned by the Lord.
The psalmist also notes the thought process of the wicked. When there is arrogance in our lives, there is no room for God. Notice that the psalmist says that in all his thoughts, there is no room for God. This is another interesting definition of arrogance that we may not have considered. When our thoughts are not focused upon God, but rather are focused upon so much else that we have no room for God, we are arrogant. How common this problem is among American “Christians.” How often I hear those who claim to be followers of Christ say that they are too busy for God. If we do not have room for God, then we are arrogant, for we have exalted ourselves above Him. We must remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
The perception of the psalmist is characteristic of what most of the righteous see concerning the wicked. The psalmist notes that “his ways are always prosperous.” But notice that this is all that matters to the ungodly. He is full of pride and God’s laws are far from him. Because he has possessions, he sees no need for God. The person has tried to fill himself up with joy from things. Jesus spoke of this condition in the parable of the soils, where He noted that the thorny soil is that where the cares of this world and the desire for riches choke out the word. How often we look at the ungodly and desire the riches that they enjoy. One reason they have what they have is because that is their life’s pursuit. There is nothing else to accomplish and nothing else to live for. Children are left in daycare and spouses work unreasonable hours all for more monetary gain. Why would we look at such a situation with any desire in our hearts? Yes, they may have things, but what a miserable existence to have nothing else to live for than possessions. What joy is there to be able to get to the end of a day and say I have such and such? Who cares, since these things have no meaning. The things that have meaning in life they have neglected. God has been cast aside in the pursuit of riches. Families have been neglected in effort to attain more. Children have become no more than tokens–children representing something to show off to the world. The precious blessings of this life become ignored, like family time and togetherness. They may be prosperous, but why would we look longingly at that, since they have sacrificed all that matters in life to be in that position?
False security (10:6)
The arrogance in the heart leads one to have a false sense of security. The arrogant says within himself that nothing can shake him and nothing will touch him. Further, notice his arrogant words, “I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” How foolish for the arrogant to believe and think these words. Yet how often do we have the same false belief in our minds! Too often we have a concept of life that we should always be happy. If there is a God, then He should always make my life happy and smooth. We go through life with the false expectations of never having any trouble befall us. God never promised that the righteous would not endure troubles. If fact, the opposite was promised when Paul said that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God . But God did make this promise: “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7). God says that He will be there to help us in our times of trouble. The ungodly believe that the accumulation of possessions will insulate them from trouble. They believe if they could just have a little more, then they will be secure, at ease, and be trouble-free. But this is a false sense of security, for God is only a refuge to those who trust in Him.
Vile speech (10:7)
The psalmist further describes the ungodly as those who are full of curses, lies, and threats. Not only these things, but trouble and evil are under his tongue. Sometimes those who claim to be Christians think that their mouths can be full of these evil things. We know that we cannot have lies, curses, and evil under tongues. But have you used your tongue to cause trouble? I do not think that we want to admit to the answer because I believe all of us have used our tongues to stir up strife and create problems. But this is the characteristic of the ungodly and not the righteous. “If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless.” (James 1:26). I am often amazed at the trouble that Christians can stir up with their tongues toward their brethren. Rumors and gossip are very simple ways that our tongues speak of trouble. We must clean up our tongues if we want to be followers of Christ.
The psalmist now speaks of the horrible acts of violence that are committed by the ungodly. Notice that the ungodly prey upon those who are helpless and weak. They lie in wait to harm the innocent. This is one reason why the righteous suffer: because the ungodly plot harm against the innocent. The ungodly plot and scheme to destroy their victims. They set traps for the helpless and the innocent to fall into. We must see the evil intentions and motives of the ungodly. When we allow our hearts to become wicked and dark with evil, then this is the road that we are traveling down. We are becoming as evil as what we read in these three verses.
False hope ( 10:11 )
The final thought of the ungodly says it all, for this is the rationale for most sins committed. “God has forgotten; He covers His face and never sees.” As soon as this mentality creeps into man, then sin is at the door. When we think in our minds that God does not see what we are doing and has forgotten our actions, then we have opened the door to committing all kinds of wickedness. How often this is the rationale that goes through man. We think that no one sees, that no one is going to know, and our evil actions are not going to matter to anyone. When we believe that God does not see what we are doing, then we are going to be lost. Let us never think that no one knows and nobody sees. An acceptance of this idea is what will bring about all the ungodliness that we have read about in this psalm.
David’s Reaction ( 10:12 -18)
Call to action ( 10:12 )
The psalmist will spend the rest of his time dealing with what we ought to do in light of this information. Remember, in verse 1 the psalmist has cried out that God seems to be far away from him. However, he looks at the wicked and cannot understand how they are allowed to continue in their arrogance, prosperity, false security, vile speech, and violence. Therefore, the psalmist turns to God in prayer. In this prayer we see a call to action requested of the Lord. “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.” We must remember that we have the right to go before God and request action. The psalmist has considered the ways of the ungodly in light of his own feeling of being forsaken, and has turned to God and requested action. Instead of grumbling or forsaking God, we need to turn to God with all our heart and tell Him what we see and what we want. We see the psalmist being more proactive with the Lord than we often are with God. Many times we see this situation with the ungodly and we become frustrated. But we forget to tell God about it and ask Him to do something about it. We are in a helpless condition, but God can do something. We can ask for God’s intervention. I hope that we also see that no matter what we are feeling or what we are experiencing, we need to always turn to the Lord first. In times of trouble and suffering, turn to God first. In times of joy and victory, turn to the Lord first. In times of frustration and confusion, turn to the Lord first. The first step we take is so important for us and shows where our faith lies.
Remember that God sees ( 10:13 -15)
The second point that we must understand is that God sees all that is going on. Why would anyone say to himself that he will not be held accountable by God? It is a very foolish belief. “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11 -12). God sees the trouble and grief of every individual. He knows who is the oppressor and who is the victim. To believe that God is not going to act against our evil deeds is to be deceived. The arm of the wicked and the evil man will be broken. This is a significant statement that we may too easily pass over. The arm is used throughout the scriptures as a symbol of power. The easiest way to note this image is when God says to Moses “Is the Lord’s arm short?” (Numbers 11:23 ). God was asking Moses if He had lost His power such that He could not act. The arm represents power. Therefore, the power of the wicked will be broken by God. Their power is not greater than God. The plans of the ungodly will never overcome or thwart the purposes of God. This point leads us into the final verses.
Know judgment comes ( 10:16 )
“The Lord is King forever and ever.” What a comforting thought this is to be to the righteous. The Lord is always King and He always maintains power and control. The psalmist continues, “The nations will perish from His land.” Whose land is it? All is the Lord’s and the nations that stand against the Lord will perish. How can we know this to be reality? How can we know that this will truly happen? This is the purpose of 2 Peter 3:3-7. Peter tells us that the world has forgotten that all the nations of the earth have already been judged at one time in the past. God promised that judgment would come by water, and the judgment came. God has promised again that judgment will come upon the nations of the earth by fire. The ungodly will perish. This is God’s purpose and it will not be broken. In performing His judgments, God is heeding the words of His people who have been oppressed and afflicted. The Lord hears the cries of the afflicted. The Lord will encourage those who are oppressed. The Lord defends the fatherless and those that are suffering. Through His judgment, man will no longer terrify. Let us never be afraid of man, who can only kill the body. Let us fear God who can kill body and spirit. The judgment is certain. The outcome is certain. Are we part of the ungodly or part of the righteous? We must decide who we will follow.