Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?Psalm 10:1. Why standest thou afar off — As one unconcerned in the indignities offered to thy name, and the injuries done to thy people? Why hidest thou thyself — Withdrawest thy presence and aid, and the light of thy countenance which was wont to shine upon us? Why art thou as a person concealing himself, so as not to be found of those who would petition for aid or counsel? In times of trouble? — When we most need thy pity and succour. Do not add affliction to the afflicted. God’s withdrawing his presence and favour from his people is very grievous to them at any time, but particularly in times of trouble. For when outward blessings are afar off, and, as it were, hidden from them, then especially do they want the inward support and comfort which his gracious presence affords. But that we have not this, is generally our own fault. We stand afar off from God by unbelief and love of the world, and then complain, that God stands afar off from us, and does not favour us with manifestations of his love and mercy.
The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.Psalm 10:2. The wicked in his pride — The pride of his heart which makes him forget God, despise the poor, and oppress others: Hebrew, בגאות, begaa-vath, in his exaltation; doth persecute the poor — With great earnestness and burning fury, as the verb דלק, dalak, here used, signifies: as if he had said, The use which he makes of that power and authority to which thou hast advanced him is to persecute those whom he ought to protect and cherish.
For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.Psalm 10:3. The wicked boasteth himself of — Hebrew, הלל, hillel, glorieth, or, praiseth himself, upon, concerning, or, because of his heart’s desire — נפשׁו תאות, naphsho taavath, the concupiscence, or, lust of his soul, which latter word is added to denote the vehemence and fervency of his desire. He glorieth in his very sins, which are his shame, and especially in the satisfaction of his desire, how wickedly soever he obtains it. And blesseth the covetous — As he applaudeth himself, so he commends others that eagerly pursue and get abundance of gain, though it be by fraud and violence, accounting such the only happy men; whom the Lord abhorreth — So his judgment, as well as practice, is contrary to God. But the latter part of this verse is differently rendered in some other versions, namely, The covetous blesseth himself in those things which the Lord abhorreth, namely, in his unjustly gotten riches. See also the margin.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.Psalm 10:4. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance — By which he scorns to stoop to God, or to own any superior, but makes himself his last end, and his own will and lust his only rule; and is full of self-confidence and a conceit of his own self-sufficiency and permanent felicity. He says the pride of his countenance, because, though pride be properly seated in the heart, yet it is manifested in the countenance; will not seek after God —
Will not seek and inquire into the mind and will of God, that he may order his life according thereto, so as to please God; nor will he seek to him by prayer for his favour and blessing. The words, after God, however, are not in the Hebrew, and may be omitted, and then the sense will be, He will not search, or consider, namely, his actions; will not trouble himself to inquire whether they be just or unjust, pleasing or offensive to God; but, without any care or consideration, rushes into sin, and does whatever seems right in his own eyes. God is not in all his thoughts — He hath no serious thought of, nor regard to, God, or his word, which ought to govern him, nor his threats or judgments, which should keep him in awe. Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, All his thoughts are, There is no God, namely, no such God as minds the affairs of the world and the actions of men, or that punishes sinners. “The psalmist hath here given us the true character of an ungodly man. By a long disuse of devotion, and open neglect of divine worship, he gradually forgets every duty he owes his Maker; and when he has for some time habituated himself to live without God in the world, he then begins to doubt his very existence; he then begins to forget that in him we live, and move, and have our being.” See Dodd and Delaney.
His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.Psalm 10:5. His ways are always grievous — The whole course of his conduct is vexatious to all that are within his reach, but especially to the poor, who cannot defend themselves, and to just and good men, whom he hates and persecutes. Thy judgments — Either thy laws, which are often called judgments, or rather, thy threatenings denounced against, and punishments inflicted upon, sinners; are far above out of his sight — He neither discerns, nor regards, nor fears, nor thinks of them, but goes on securely and resolutely in his wicked courses. In other words, though all his actions tend to molest and injure his neighbours, and he is always bringing forth some mischief or other, yet that thou wilt judge him for it, is the furthest thing from his thoughts. As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them — He doth not regard or fear them; yea, he despises them, being confident that he can blow them away with a breath. This is an expression of contempt and disdain, both in Scripture and other authors.
He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.Psalm 10:6. He hath said in his heart — He thinks and persuades himself; I shall not be moved — From my place and happy state: I shall never be in adversity — Because I am not in adversity, I never shall be in it. His present prosperity makes him secure for the future. Compare Revelation 18:7. “Prosperity,” says Dr. Horne, “begets presumption, and he who has been long accustomed to see his designs succeed, begins to think it impossible they should ever do otherwise. The long-suffering of God, instead of leading such a one to repentance, only hardens him in his iniquity.”
His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.Psalm 10:7. His mouth is full of cursing — Of oaths and blasphemies against God; of reviling and execration of other men, especially of those that are good, and those that stand in his way, and hinder his wicked designs; and, perhaps, also of oaths and imprecations against himself, by which he endeavours to gain credit, and to make his neighbours secure, and so to make way for the deceit and fraud here next mentioned. He sticks at nothing that may serve his ends: for he makes no conscience of calling for one curse after another upon himself to confirm those promises which he never intends to keep, or to swear that which he knows is false, that by these impious means he may deceive those who rely on his word or oath. Under his tongue — Under his fair and plausible speeches; is mischief — Mischievous wickedness lies hid, and vanity, or iniquity, as the word און, aven, is often rendered, or injury; the vexation or oppression of other men, which he covers with these fair pretences.
He 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.Psalm 10:8-9. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages — Not within the villages, but in the ways bordering upon them, or leading to them, as robbers used to do. In the secret places — That he may avoid the shame and punishment of men; which is the only thing that he fears. His eyes are privily set — Hebrew, יצפנו, jitzponu, delitescunt, lie hid; skulk, or lurk. He watches, and looks out of his lurking place, to spy what passengers come that way. The allusion is still to the practice of robbers. As a lion in his den — Which lurks and waits for prey. He doth catch — יחתŠ, jachtop, snatch, or seize upon; the poor — Namely, with violence, and to devour or destroy him; when he draweth him — Or rather, by drawing him, or, after he hath drawn him, as במשׁכו, bemashecho, properly signifies, into his net. He lays snares for him, and when he takes him he tears him in pieces.
He 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.
He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.Psalm 10:10. He croucheth and humbleth himself — Like a lion (for he continues the same metaphor) which lies close upon the ground, partly that he may not be discovered, and partly that he may more suddenly and surely lay hold on his prey. “When the lion means to leap,” says the Jewish Arabic translator, “he first coucheth that he may gather himself together; then he rouseth himself, and puts out his strength, that he may tear his prey: therefore when he speaketh thee fair, beware of him: for this is but his deceit.” That the poor may fall — Or, taking the verb נפל, naphal, actively, (as Joshua 11:7; Job 1:15,) that he may fall upon the poor; that, having first couched and lain down, and then of a sudden rising, he may leap and fall upon his prey, like a lion. By his strong ones — His strong members, his teeth or paws.
He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.Psalm 10:11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten — Namely, the poor, (Psalm 10:10,) or, the humble. He forgets or neglects their oppressions and prayers, and doth not avenge their cause, as he hath said he would do. He hideth his face — Lest he should see. He takes no notice of their sufferings, lest he should be engaged to help them. He will not encumber himself with the care of things done upon the earth, but leaves it wholly to men to manage their affairs as they think fit. He will never see it — Namely, the oppression of the poor, or the design of oppressors against them.
Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.Psalm 10:12-13. Lift up thy hand — To rescue the poor, and to smite their oppressors; forget not the humble — Show, by thy appearing for their vindication, that thou dost remember and regard them. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? — Why dost thou, by giving them impunity, suffer and occasion them to despise thee?
Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
Thou 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.Psalm 10:14. Thou hast seen it — Or, But thou hast seen it, and therefore they are horribly mistaken, as they will find to their cost; for thou beholdest — And not as an idle spectator, but with an eye of observation and vindication; mischief and spite — All the malicious, spiteful, and injurious conduct of wicked men toward those who are more righteous than they; to requite it with thy hand — Hebrew, to give (to restore, to repay to them the mischief they have done to others) by the hand of thy extraordinary providence, because the oppressed were destitute of all other succours. The poor committeth himself unto thee — Hebrew, יעזב עליךְ, jagnazob gnalecka, leaveth to thee the care of his person and righteous cause. Thou art the helper of the fatherless — Of such poor and oppressed ones as have no friend nor helper; one kind of them being put for all. “We may collect from hence,” says Dodd, “that there were two kinds of infidels at the time this Psalm was written; one of whom made God a sort of epicurean deity, and supposed him not to concern himself with the moral government of the world; the other altogether denied his being,” Psalm 10:4.
Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.Psalm 10:15. Break thou the arm of the wicked — That is, their strength, the instrument of their violence and cruelty. Deprive them of all power to do mischief. Seek out his wickedness — Search for it, and punish these wicked atheists; till thou find none — Till no such wickedness be left in the world, or at least, in the church. “This,” says Dr. Horne, “may be either a prayer or a prediction, implying that the time will come when the power of Jehovah will dash in pieces that of the enemy, by the demolition either of sin or the sinner, until wickedness be come utterly to an end, and righteousness be established for ever in the kingdom of Messiah.”
The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.Psalm 10:16. The Lord is king — To whom it belongs to protect his subjects. Therefore thou wilt save the humble, and punish the oppressors; for ever and ever — Therefore his people’s case is never desperate, seeing he ever lives and reigns to help them, and, therefore, he will help them in his time, sooner or later. The heathen — Either, 1st, Those impious Israelites who oppressed David and other good men, whom, although they were reputed Israelites by themselves and others, yet he might call heathen for their heathenish opinions of God and his providence, and for their ungodly and unrighteous lives. Compare Isaiah 1:9, and Amos 9:7. Or, 2d, The Canaanites whom God, as king of the world, did expel or destroy, and gave their land to his people. By which great example David confirms his faith and hope for the future. Are perished out of his land — Out of Canaan, which God calls his land, Leviticus 25:23, because he chose it for them, Ezekiel 20:6, and gave it to them, and fixed his presence and dwelling in it.
LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:Psalm 10:17-18. Thou hast heard the desire of the humble — And, therefore, wilt still hear it, being unchangeable, and the same for ever. Thou wilt prepare their heart — By kindling therein holy desires by thy Holy Spirit, strengthening their faith, collecting their thoughts, and raising their affections to things above, that they may so pray as that thou wilt hear: or, that they may be made fit to receive the mercies they desire, which, when they are, they shall have their prayers answered. Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear — In due time, though, for a season, thou seemest to turn a deaf ear to their requests. To judge the fatherless, &c. — That is, to defend them, and give sentence for them against their enemies. That the man of the earth — Earthly and mortal men, who, though great and powerful, are of no better origin than those whom they oppress, but are made of the dust, and must return to it; may no more oppress — Which they have wickedly done, and thereby have presumed, most audaciously, to contend with thee their Maker and Judge. Therefore it is time for thee to suppress such insolence, and to show how unable they are to stand before thee.
To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.