Psa 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psa 10:2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.

The wicked man – The descriptions that follow (vv2011) could variously apply to thugs, corrupt businessmen, and foreign oppressors.  But the root cause of the sin is disregard for God’s law, and its overall effect is unjustice.  (Apologetics Study Bible)

Arrogance – This is the leading feature of the wicked man as described in vv2-11. ‘Perhaps he protests too much: his blasphemy, v3b and his repeated assurances to himself of his impunity, vv4,6,11,13, betray a basic disquiet.’ (Kidner)

Psa 10:3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.

Psa 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Pride in the Old Testament

  1. it led to Uzziah’s downfall (2 Chron 26:16);
  2. it hardened the heart of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 5:20);
  3. it goes before destruction (Prov 16:18);
  4. it does not seek God (Psalm 10:4);
  5. it brings disgrace (Prov 11:2);
  6. it breeds quarrels (Prov 13:10);
  7. it deceives (Jer 49:16; Obad 1:3);
  8. it brings low (Prov 29:23; Isa 2:11; 23:9);
  9. it humbles (Isa 2:17; Dan 4:37).

According to this verse, the root cause of atheism is pride. This being the case, the evangelist must reckon with the fact that pride is a major barrier to conversion.

‘The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God. Proud hearts breed proud looks and stiff knees. It is an admirable arrangement that the heart is often written on the countenance, just as the motion of the wheels of a clock find their record on its face. A brazen face and a broken heart never go together. We are not quite sure that the Athenians were wise when they ordained that men should be tried in the dark lest their countenances should weigh with the judges; for there is much more to be learned from the motions of the muscles of the face than from the words of the lips. Honesty shines in the face, but villainy peeps out at the eyes. See the effect of pride; it kept the man from seeking God. It is hard to pray with a stiff neck and an unbending knee.’ (Spurgeon)

In all his thoughts there is no room for God – ‘The bold words, “There is no God”, v4, are bravado, for his inner dialogue contradicts them, vv11, 13. Yet they are the language of his choices and actions, since thoughts in v4 means “schemes”, as in v2. He is a practising atheist, if hardly a convinced one.’ (Kidner)

‘God is not in all his thoughts: he thought much, but he had no thoughts for God. Amid heaps of chaff there was not a grain of wheat. The only place where God is not is in the thoughts of the wicked. This is a damning accusation; for where the God of heaven is not, the Lord of hell is reigning and raging; and if God be not in our thoughts, our thoughts will bring us to perdition.’ (Spurgeon)

‘It is the black work of an ungodly man or an atheist, that God is not in all his thoughts. What comfort can be had in the being of God without thinking of him with reverence and delight? A God forgotten is as good as no God to us.’ (Charnock)

‘Trifles possess us, but God is not in all our thoughts, seldom the sole object of them. We have durable thoughts of transitory things, and flitting thoughts of a durable and eternal good. The covenant of grace engages the whole heart to God, and bars anything else from engrossing it; but what strangers are God and the souls of most men! Though we have the knowledge of him by creation, yet he is for the most part an unknown God in the relations wherein he stands to us, because a God undelighted in. Hence it is, as one observes, that because we observe not the ways of God’s wisdom, conceive not of him in his vast perfections, nor are stricken with an admiration of his goodness, that we have fewer good sacred poems than of any other kind. The wits of men hang the wing when they come to exercise their reasons and fancies about God. Parts and strength are given us, as well as corn and wine to the Israelites, for the service of God, but those are consecrated to some cursed Baal, Ho 2:8, like Venus in the poet, we forsake heaven to follow after some Adonis.’ (Stephen Charnock)

‘See here, [1.] The nature of impiety and irreligion; it is not seeking after God and not having him in our thoughts. There is no enquiry made after him (Job 35:10, Jer. 2:6), no desire towards him, no communion with him, but a secret wish to have no dependence upon him and not to be beholden to him. Wicked people will not seek after God (that is, will not call upon him); they live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many projects and devices, but no eye to God in any of them, no submission to his will nor aim at his glory. [2.] The cause of this impiety and irreligion; and that is pride. Men will not seek after God because they think they have no need of him, their own hands are sufficient for them; they think it a thing below them to be religious, because religious people are few, and mean, and despised, and the restraints of religion will be a disparagement to them.’ (MHC)

‘Speculative atheism was hardly known in the ancient world; the atheism referred to in the OT (Jer. 5:2; Ps. 10:4; 14:1) is a so-called practical atheism.’ (ISBE)

Psa 10:5 His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies.

Here is a picture of ‘the earthbound man who is too engrossed at ground level to see what is hanging over him.’ (Kidner)

Psa 10:6 He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”

Psa 10:7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

Psa 10:8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims.

Psa 10:9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

Psa 10:10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.

Psa 10:11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.”

Psa 10:12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.

The second part of the psalm, vv12-18, represents the prayer of the oppressed.

‘Such vigour of prayer is striking Arise (Psa 9:19; 10:12), as though accusing the Lord of ‘lying down on the job’; do not forget (12)—as if he had done so. Equally striking is that nothing is done except through prayer. Deadly though the threat is (Psa 9:13; 10:8), mighty though the opponent (Psa 10:9), prayer is enough, because the Lord is king (Psa 9:4, 7), he knows our needs (Psa 10:14), and he is pledged to shelter (Psa 9:9, 10), uplift (Psa 9:13) and help (Psa 10:14).’ (NBC)

Psa 10:13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”?

Psa 10:14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

Helper of the fatherless – In a society where the family was paramount in giving protection to its individual members, widows and the fatherless were particularly vulnerable.

‘The psalmist here refers to the “general character” of God as that in which all the oppressed, the crushed, the helpless may trust; and he mentions this particular case as one that best illustrated that character.’ (Barnes)

Psa 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.

Break the arm of the wicked and evil man – ‘The arm is the instrument by which we effect a purpose, and especially in wielding a sword or a spear, as in battle; and if the arm is broken, we are powerless. The psalmist, therefore, prays that God would render the wicked, in this respect, powerless.’ (Barnes)

Psa 10:16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.

Psa 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

Psa 10:18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.