1 I have taken refuge in Yahveh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird! 2 “Because notice, the wicked ones are stringing bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the ones whose hearts are upright.
The psalmist knows that there is no escape in mere flight. The only real escape is divine intervention. Perhaps we should pray less “help me escape” prayers and more God, show your power” prayers.
16 Yahveh is King forever and ever; the nations will be destroyed from his land. 17 Yahveh, you have heard what the humble are asking; you will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully, 18 doing justice for the fatherless and the exploited so that mere humans from the land may terrorize them no more.
The psalmist ends his prayer for God to help those being exploited by the powerful with assurance that God has heard. God will bring justice, which— in this case— will mean wiping out the oppression. He will stop the exploitation by destroying the exploiters.
Some people have such power and influence that it will take an act of God to bring them down. God acts.
14 But you yourself have been watching trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into your hands. The helpless one is entrusting himself to you; you are a helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked, evil person, until you look for his wickedness, but find it no more.
The psalmist reflects on God as carefully monitoring the crimes committed against the poor and helpless. He calls on God to act against this powerful criminal by punishing him. The broken arm prevents further acts of violence. He asks the Lord to keep pursuing these criminals until they are all caught— until there is no one left to pursue. Rid the land of the exploitation.
11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he has hidden his face and will never see.” 12 Rise up, Yahveh God! Lift up your hand. Do not forget the miserable ones. 13 Why has the wicked person despised God? He says to himself, “You will not follow it up.”
The one who exploits the poor and weak has convinced himself that God is not watching, and will never follow up the crime with justice. That mindset is a trap. God sees every teardrop and drop of blood. He remembers it all and will not forget our actions. It is actually better for the wicked to be brought to justice in this age, rather than go their whole lives thinking that there is no accounting for sin. After death there is no repentance. Only judgment day upon the return of Christ.
8 He waits in ambush near settlements; he kills the innocent in secret places. His eyes pursue the helpless; 9 he hides in secret like a lion in a bush. He hides in order to seize a victim; he seizes a victim and drags him in his net. 10 So he is oppressed and smashed up. Helpless people die because of the wicked one’s strength.
The psalmist is talking about the kind of person who exploits the helpless, even causing their death for his own selfish purposes.
He calls on God to rescue the innocent victims of the exploiters. In a perfect world we could depend on just laws and government enforcement of those laws to prevent violence towards the innocent. But the psalmist didn’t live in a world like that, and neither do we.
5 The roads he takes are always safe; your high judgments have no effect on him; he scoffs at all his enemies. 6 He says to himself, “I will never be moved –from generation to generation without disaster.” 7 Cursing, lying, and violence fill his mouth; trouble and malice readily come out of his tongue.
The psalmist is describing the sinner who sees himself above God and his law. Such a person does not know the gift of fear. He does what he wants and fears no consequences. We might think that such a life would be something to be desired. No, it might be an entire life of safe sinning; but it will come to an end. On judgment day, many who have lived such a life will find out that only suffering and destruction await them.
2 Arrogantly the wicked ones stalk their victims; let them be caught in the traps they have dreamed up. 3 Because the wicked one brags about his own lusts; the one who is greedy curses and despises Yahveh. 4 While he is scheming, the wicked person arrogantly thinks, “There’s no accountability, since there’s no God.”
If you have ever been victimized, you know the feeling of embarrassment and helplessness reflected in this passage.
Today, Lord, we want to ask you to bring justice to the victims all around us. And those who use people for their own amusement, and feel they are above the law— show them that you exist— that they are accountable to you.
Psalms 10:1 Yahveh, why are you standing so far away? Why are you hiding in hard times?
What an honest prayer! This believer does not doubt the existence of God or his power to intervene. He questions why God seems so far away when he needs him most. We are a few centuries away from the famous footprints saying. I don’t think the psalmist felt like he was being carried. He probably felt like he was being dragged — through nettles and barbed wire. He desperately tries to hang on to his faith when sight says he has been abandoned.
No answer here. I just want to pray for those of you who feel that way today. It’s a big club; we should order t-shirts.
Lord, make your presence known to those of us who feel alone in our troubles today.
18 Because the needy will not always be forgotten; the hope of the oppressed will not perish forever. 19 Rise up, Yahveh! Do not allow mere humans to prevail; let the nations be judged in your presence. 20 Put terror in them, Yahveh; let the nations know they are merely humans. Selah
This psalm is a prayer for those who feel forgotten. It is a prayer for justice for those oppressed by powers they cannot control. The psalmist prays for God to act in history as he did to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Independence from tyranny is what God wants for everyone. That is not all he wants, but it is his revealed will.
Lord, rescue those enslaved by tyrants or systems of government which do not allow their people to live and worship freely.
15 The nations have fallen into the trap they manufactured; their foot is caught in the net they have hidden. 16 Yahveh has made himself known; he has brought about justice, trapping the wicked by the work of their hands. Higgaion . Selah 17 The wicked ones will die and go to Sheol –all the nations that forget God.
The unbelievers who forget God spend their lives manufacturing traps for God’s people, and all end up in God’s trap: Sheol. Sheol is the unconscious state of death. It is not a place of fire and torture. It’s a place of death and waiting in the dust for judgment day.
What the psalmist is saying is that those who spend all their lives forgetting God will experience the much longer period of being forgotten (as it were) by him as they return to the dust in Sheol. No one will escape this fate.
None of our enemies is immortal. But God has promised an immortal life for his children. The resurrection is the ultimate answer to our prayers for help.