The Righteous One’s Plea
for the Godly

a brief study of Psalm 10, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 21 July 2006

We have seen that Psalm 9 is clearly a Messianic Psalm that alludes to the death and resurrection of the Messiah to crush the head of the Serpent and his ungodly vipers who have risen up against Him and His seed.

Now, Psalm 10 is so similar in content and tone, that the Septuagint translates it as a continuation of Psalm 9.

But the difference between the two psalms is that Psalm 9 emphasises on the ruin of the ungodly, while Psalm 10 emphasises the guilt of the ungodly. Psalm 9 speaks of how God will triumph over the ungodly; Psalm 10 speaks of how terribly guilty the ungodly are and calls upon God to deal with them.

This psalm has essentially 2 parts. In the first part, verses 1-11, the Righteous One, as it were, paints a picture of the ungodly before his Father. In the second part, verses 12-18, the Righteous One appeals to the Father to interpose on behalf of the godly.

1. A Picture of the Ungodly

God sees all things. But there are times when it appears that the wicked have a free reign to do what they want; and God does not seem concerned.

It is like a robbery is going on; but in a distance is the police chief. He sees what is going on, but he does not do anything. It is like a child is being beaten up by another; but the father is standing at a distance. He sees what is going on but does not do anything. When we see the wicked doing wicked deeds with apparent impunity, do we not wonder why God does not do anything?

It was at such a time that the Psalmist must have penned the words of this psalm. This is a psalm that our Lord must have meditated on when He saw injustice and wickedness all around Him both against Him and against His saints during His earthly ministry.

1 Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

Why dost thou stand apart O LORD?

The wicked seems to be doing many things:

• v. 2—He persecutes the poor in his pride. He looks down on the poor. They are of no use to him, so he despises and persecutes them.

• v. 3—He boasts about the lusts of his heart, and blesses the covetous, calling good evil and evil good.

• v. 4—He has no regard for God; God is not in all his thoughts. He thinks only of himself and his wealth.

• v. 5—His ways are always grievous; he is arrogant. He thinks he is always right.

• v. 6—He boasts that nothing can shake him. He is over-confident.

• v. 7—His mouth is full of cursing and deceit. He cheats. He curses those who disagree with him.

• v. 8-10—He is full of scheming and under-hand methods by which he crushes the poor and takes advantage of them.

• v. 11— He says in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hides his face; he will never see it.

He has no fear of God. He has no compassion for the poor. He cares only for himself.

When the Righteous One sees this happening, and he knows that God is holy and sovereign, he would no doubt feel a holy indignation on behalf of God’s name.

1 Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

He is not asking the Father to explain Himself, you must realise. It is an expression of desire that the Father would deal with the wicked that justice may prevail upon the earth.

This desire is explicitly stated in the second part of this psalm, where the Messiah pleads for the godly:


2. A Plea for the Godly

12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

The humble are those who are afflicted, helpless and poor in spirit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:3) says our Lord. "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:4).

Not everyone who is poor materially is humble. Many who are poor are so headstrong and proud… they have no need of God. They care not for the prayers of the Messiah.

The Messiah is not concerned about these. They can take care of themselves. The Messiah is concerned about the humble.… those who know that they are nothing, have nothing and deserve nothing good.

Christ pleads on behalf of these. He desires that the Father should act on their behalf. They are too weak to lift a hand against the proud and wicked. But God’s arms are not too short to deal with them. "Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble."

But why? Why should God do so? Why should God arise on behalf of the humble?

Firstly, because the wicked contemn or revile God’s name by their actions and words (v. 13). He challenges God arrogantly: "Thou wilt not require it!" You will not call me to account. You will not do anything. I defy you to show that you can do anything to me! Oh such arrogance.

So God should arise on behalf of the humble because the wicked is holding God in contempt.

Secondly, God should arise on behalf of the humble because He Himself sees what is going on:

14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand:

Lord, thou art not unaware of what is going on. Indeed as Habakkuk puts it:

"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?" (Hab 1:13).

But thirdly, God should arise against the wicked on behalf of the poor because the poor have committed themselves unto Him, and He is the helper of the fatherless (v. 14).

The poor and humble are helpless to help themselves, O Lord. Wouldst not thou arise on their behalf to help them?

15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

Lord, do not hold back thy wrath. Deal severely with the wicked who mocks Thy name.

Will the Lord indeed arise? Yes, He will. We must believe that. We may not see it today. But we must live by faith, not by sight. "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Pet 3:8).

The fact that God will not deal with the wicked today does not mean that He will not deal with them. Rather God is allowing them to store up wrath against the day of wrath.

The prayer of the Messiah will be heard. "Thou hearest me always" says the Lord in John 11:42.

So as we conclude this psalm, we hear our Lord telling us in no uncertain terms what will happen. This is in the future, but the situation is reported in the present and past tense.

It is like the psalmist is standing there at the end of history and looking back—

16 The 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: 18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

The day is coming. As certainly as the fact that Christ has already come, the day is coming when God will arise for the poor and humble against the proud and wicked.

In that day, only the poor in spirit, the humble in heart and the godly will remain in the garden of the Lord to enjoy Him and their eternal inheritance forever and ever. The wicked will be no more. There will be no more proud. There will be no more evil and persecution. There will be no more tears and sorrows.

Justice and equity will pervade the earth. Praise be to the Lord.


Beloved brethren and children, what is this psalm to you?

This psalm assures me that the Lord cares. There is a lot of injustice in this world, but we must not allow it to grip us or to overwhelm us. We must cast our cares upon the Lord and continue to live honestly and humbly, remaining poor in the spirit.

We must not dream of getting back against those who exploit the poor. Leave it in the hands of the Lord.

Have you been unjustly treated in school or at work? Leave it in the hands of the Lord. He will take care of it. Only continue to trust Him and hope in Him. Only in this way will you be like Christ, "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Pet 2:23). Amen.

— JJ Lim