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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 10

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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

This Psalm differs from those which precede and follow, in having no superscription. The design of the author was that the two Psalms Psalms 9:1-20; Psalms 10:1-18 should form two parts of one whole, with one common superscription. So Psalms 1:1-6 and Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 42:1-11 and Psalms 43:1-5 are related. That both alike come from David, appears from their mutual resemblance. This psalm is designed for 'God's people in all seasons of distress' (Kinchi). The Hebrew alphabetical arrangement shows that the reference is general, not individual.

Psalms 10:1-18.-Complaint to God against ungodly oppressors (Psalms 10:1-11); prayer that Yahweh will confute those boasting of impunity in sin (Psalms 10:12-15); assurance that He, as King forever, has heard, and will vindicate the oppressed humble (Psalms 10:16-18).

Why standest thou afar off? - as though thou wert an indifferent spectator to the oppression suffered by thy people. "Why" is not the question of unbelief, but the complaint of faith, based on the conviction that God's righteousness cannot allow such an anomaly to continue.

Hidest thou (thyself) - or 'coverest thou (thine eyes).' There is no Hebrew for thyself. Compare Leviticus 20:4; 1 Samuel 12:3, margin.

In times of trouble - literally, 'in respect to seasons, in trouble' or, 'straits.' David allude, in contrast, to Psalms 9:9, "The Lord will be a refuge (a high place) in times of trouble." Why does a state of things continue which seems to contradict that character of the Lord?

Verse 2

The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor. So Lamentations 4:19 uses the same Hebrew verb with the accusative [ yidlaq (H1814)]: literally, to be hot, to burn (Psalms 37:1; Psalms 39:3; Isaiah 30:27); implying the active heat in fire, not passive, as in the thing burnt. Elsewhere, when it means to be hot in persecuting anyone, 'after' [ 'achar (H310)] fellows. Therefore, with the Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, Syriac, it may be translated, 'Because of the pride of the wicked the poor is inflamed'-namely, with indignation. The Chaldaic favours the English version.

Let them be taken in the devices they have imagined. It is "the wicked" who are to be taken in their own devices (cf. Psalms 7:16). Most explain 'The poor are taken in the devices which the wicked have imagined.' So the Septuagint and Vulgate. Moreover, the psalm is descriptive down to Psalms 10:12, where first the petitions begin. Still a parenthetical petition here is the natural outburst of the Psalmist's feeling, and the connection with Psalms 9:16 is decisive for the English version. So the Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac.

Verse 3

For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.

For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire. The Hebrew for "heart's" is rather 'soul's [ napshow (H5315)]. Hengstenberg objects to the English version, that the Hebrew verb [ hileel (H1984)] is generally used actively, and therefore translates, 'The wicked extols the desire of his soul.' The "of," or 'upon,' in the Hebrew [ `al (H5921)], favours the English version. The wicked congratulates himself upon his success in gratifying his desire by oppressing the godly. So the Hebrew is used, Psalms 44:8; compare Philippians 3:19, "whose glory is in their shame." Instead of glorying in the Lord, he glories in his own bad lusts, and his success in them (Habakkuk 1:11).

And blesseth the covetous, (whom) the Lord abhorreth. He blesses those who, like himself, covet and who seize upon what they covet by force or fraud. The Hebrew [ botseea` (H1214)] for covetous expresses one who makes gain by fair means or foul (Psalms 10:8-10; cf. Hebrews 2:9). The parallelism favours the English version, rather than Hengstenberg's translation, 'He who makes gain blesses (the Lord for his ill-gotten gain, in doing which he) despises the Lord;' or Maurer's translation, 'curses (or renounces), despises the Lord;' or Venema's translation, 'the covetous blesses himself.' etc. "He blesseth the covetous" (including himself; cf. Zechariah 11:5) is parallel to "the wicked boasteth of his soul's desire," for covetousness is his soul's desire. In the last clause, as "whom" is not in the Hebrew, we may make "the Lord" the object of the verb, not the subject, 'he contemneth the Lord.' Psalms 10:13 ("Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God?") confirms this. The same Hebrew word is used in both verses [ ni'eets (H5006)].

Verse 4

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance (literally, the height of his nose) will not seek (after God). So "seek the Lord" is used, Psalms 34:4; Psalms 77:2. The omission of "God," which is not in the Hebrew, is due to the condensed style of the psalm. Compare Jeremiah 13:17; Hosea 7:14. Hengstenberg, with the graphic brevity of the original, translates, 'The wicked, in the height of his pride, (saith) He (God) doth not require it; God is not, (are) all his purposes.' The 13th verse agrees with this - "He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it." The same Hebrew as is here translated "seek" [ daarash (H1875)]. Here the fact is represented; in Psalms 10:13 the lawlessness of it, and the need of putting it down. In Psalms 9:12, by the same Hebrew verb is expressed the truth, that though the ungodly deny God's taking cognizance of sin, yet that God, in His good time, 'maketh inquisition for bloods.' Not that the wicked denied God in so many words (see Psalms 10:11), but all their "devices" (the same Hebrew standing for "thoughts" here as stood for "devices," Psalms 10:2 [ mªzimowt (H4209)]) and acts were a virtual denial of His being and character, as the Judge who requires or takes cognizance of sin (Titus 1:16).

Verse 5

His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.

His ways are always grievous, [ yaachiyluw (H2342) from chuwl (H2342), to grieve]. His ways grieve those under his power. It is better, however, to translate, 'His ways are always prosperous;' literally, 'enduring,' as the Hebrew, Job 20:21, note. [So chiyl (H2342) means strength.] The remaining clauses of the verse accord; because they take out of his way the two obstacles to prosperity:

(1) The "judgments" of God;

(2) The attacks of "enemies."

Thy judgments are far above out of his sight - literally, 'a height are thy judgments away from him.' They are so distant in space as not to reach him, so that he continues to prosper; or, the time of thy judgments coming upon him is far removed (Psalms 10:1; Psalms 10:11). The reference is not here to the sinner's own thought of God being far off, but to the fact of God's judgments not immediately overtaking him. The 'height' refers to God's being raised far above the earth, so as not to seem to take cognizance of sin here below.

As for all his enemies, be puffeth at them - He dissipates them with a mere puff of His breath (Isaiah 40:24).

Verse 6

He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.

I shall not be moved - from my present prosperity.

For (I shall) never (be) in adversity - literally, 'as being from generation to generation [ lªdor (H1755) waador (H1755)] one who (am) not (and never have been) in adversity.' The wicked man is regarded as an ideal person, who lives on from generation to generation in the same course of successful villany.

Verse 7

His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

His mouth is full of cursing. The sinner's guilt toward his neighbour, wherein he is confirmed by prosperity, is set forth in respect to his words first; Psalms 10:8-10 pass on to his deeds. His 'cursings' are such as he utters upon himself in perjury, in order that he may get possession of his neighbour's goods. Compare Psalms 59:12, where, as here, cursing is connected with lying or deceit.

And fraud. Gesenius translates [ tok (H8496)], 'oppression.' The usual meaning is as the English version. The Hebrew root [taawak] means 'middle;' i:e., something hidden in the middle of the heart: the tongue speaking one thing, while the heart thinks another. The Septuagint read 'bitterness' [ maarowt (H4796)] instead of "deceit" [ mirmowt (H4820)].

Under his tongue. The metaphor is from serpents, whose venom is hidden in little bags under the teeth, and from thence is pressed out at will (Psalms 140:3). Instead of saying, 'upon the tongue,' the Psalmist says "under" it, to imply that the prosperous sinner has a whole storehouse of evil "under his tongue," from which, as need may require, he takes a part, to lay upon his tongue in speaking. Hence, the sinner's mouth is said to be "full of cursing."

Mischief and vanity, [ `aamaal (H5999) waa'aawen (H205)] - 'sorrow and mischief.' The former means literally, labour, then the hardship flowing from it: so sorrow in general. The latter means vanity, or mischievous iniquity, which, in the view of Scripture, is the height of vanity. His mouth is like a magazine of sorrow and mischief (Job 20:12; Song of Solomon 4:11).

Verse 8

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.

He sitteth in the lurking-places of the villages - ready to waylay, kill, and plunder the peaceable villagers. Here the ideal sinner is represented in a further stage of wickedness.

His eyes are privily set - Hebrew, 'his eyes hide themselves,' or 'hide (his lurking-place, or snare).' DeBurgh explains it of the half-closing of the eyes in order to see more distinctly, and watch narrowly. It is translated. Proverbs 1:11; Proverbs 1:18, "to lay wait for."

Against the poor, [ cheelªkaah (H2489)]. In Psalms 10:14 the plural occurs [with the Hebrew letter he (h) changed into the Hebrew letter 'aleph ('), which shows that this vowel is a radical]. The Hebrew for "poor" is compounded of two roots, 'to be weak' [chaalah], and 'to be sorrowful,' or 'afflicted' [ kaa'ah (H3512)] (Psalms 109:16; Ezekiel 13:22). [Thus, the vowel pointing must be chalkeh (H2489).] Poverty and weakness are combined in the idea: so in Psalms 10:10 the word is used of "the poor," in contrast to the "strong ones." Compare Habakkuk 3:14.

Verse 9

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 lieth in wait secretly - Hebrew, 'in the secret places.'

As a lion in his den ... he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. From the image of a lion David passes to that of a hunter casting his noose over the unsuspecting prey, which he 'draws into his net' (Psalms 35:7). The ungodly unite the cunning of the hunter with the violence of the lion. What hope then, can there be for the poor, if the Lord does not interpose!

Verse 10

He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.

He croucheth. So the Hebrew Qeri' reads [ yidkeh (H1794)] without "and." But the Kethibh (written text), reads the copula [wªdaakaah, from daakah (H1794), the same as daakak], 'And he bows himself down.' This marks his cunning, implied in the last clause (Psalms 10:9), with which this clause is connected by 'and.' As the net lies low, not to be seen by the victim, so the wicked can assume a lowly character in order to deceive his intended prey, the poor (Psalms 57:6).

That the poor may fall by his strong ones. The wicked man is an ideal person, and "his strong ones" are his individual representatives. These stand in contrast to "the poor" (literally, 'those at once afflicted and weak,' note, Psalms 10:8). Gesenius takes "his strong ones" to mean his strong limbs, teeth, etc.; thus the image of the lion is retained. But David had dropped this image for that of a hunter with his "net" (Psalms 10:9).

Verse 11

He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.

He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten - God (saith he in his heart, if not with his lips) forgets alike my sins and the sufferings of my victims.

He hideth his face - so as not to see wrong.

He will never see it - He pays no regard to it (the evil I do) 'forever.' So the Hebrew, Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 9:9. The sinner's long impunity fosters his notion that God takes no cognizance of wrong-doing on earth. This constitutes an urgent claim for God's interposition at once, and is the ground of the prayer that follows in Psalms 10:12.

Verse 12

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

Arise, O Lord. Here the second part of the psalm begins. The prayer that suggests itself to the believer as the only resource in his perplexity at the success of sinners and the depression of the godly.

Lift up thine hand - to vindicate thy people, and to strike the ungodly (Micah 5:9; Exodus 7:5; Isaiah 5:25). The image is from one who had his hand at rest in his bosom, in the fold of the Oriental robe, and who lifts it out for action.

Forget not - show the wicked it is not as they say, "God hath forgotten" (Psalms 10:11).

The humble - rather, 'the afflicted' (see note, Psalms 9:12).

Verse 13

Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? - "Wherefore" dost thou permit it?

He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it - note, Psalms 10:4, 'God doth not require it.'

Verse 14

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.

Thou hast seen it - however much sinners flatter themselves, "He will never see it."

For thou beholdest mischief and spite. From God's general character as the all-seeing One, David, in faith, reasons that God must see this particular case.

Mischief, [ `aamaal (H5999)] - literally, labour; and so the suffering of the afflicted (Hengstenberg); or else, the 'perverseness' (Numbers 23:21) of the wicked oppressors, as the English version, "mischief."

And spite, [ ka`ac (H3708)] - literally, indignation; i:e., the spite of the wicked against the godly; or else, the just indignation of the godly at the oppression perpetrated; provocation (note, Psalms 10:2; 1 Samuel 1:6) (Henstenberg).

To requite is with thy hand - literally, 'to put (or give) it in thy hand;' as we say, 'to take a case in hand.' The Lord takes in hand the cause of His suffering people, and will, in His own good time, redress their wrongs with His all-powerful hand (Psalms 56:8). Maurer, less probably, takes it 'to imprint the sufferings of the godly on thy hands, so as not to forget them' (Isaiah 49:16).

The poor committeth himself unto thee - literally [ `aazab (H5800)], 'leaves (himself and his cause entrusted) unto (literally, upon) thee.'

Verse 15

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

Break thou the arm of the wicked - the instrument wherewith he oppressed the godly.

And the evil (man): seek out his wickedness (until) thou find none - search it out for judgment so completely that not one sinner, and not one sin, shall remain that shall not be 'required' for punishment. Thus, the heart-delusion of the ungodly shall be forever confuted (Psalms 10:13), "Thou wilt not require it." Compare Psalms 37:35-36. The accents connect "and the evil man" (as a nominative absolute) with the second clause, 'and (as for) the evil man, seek out his wickedness (until) thou find none.' A piece of covert railery. It is true as thou (the ungodly man) sayest, Thy sin shall not be found (Psalms 10:11), but not because God will not find it out, but because it shall be so completely extirpated from the earth that there shall be no more left to find. This shall only be accomplished when Christ shall "gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matthew 13:41). So Psalms 9:6.

Verse 16

The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

The third part and third strophe.

The Lord is King for ever and ever. Sense had suggested the thought, that because of the prevailing might and impunity of oppressors, the Lord has ceased to reign on His high throne as righteous Governor, Judge and King over the earth, especially in relation to His people (Deuteronomy 33:5; Numbers 23:21). Faith now shows David how impotent are the rebels' efforts to set up in opposition a kingdom of unrighteousness. Yahweh is, and ever will abide, "King" alone.

The pagan are perished - all who, whether nominally of the elect nation or not, are paganish in heart and life (Ezekiel 16:3; Jeremiah 9:25; Psalms 9:19). What was a prayer in Psalms 9:19, "Let the pagan be judged," is here taken as an accomplished fact in the confidence of faith, "the pagan are perished."

Out of his land - implying why the pagan are perished out of the land (first, Canaan; then, ultimately, the whole earth) - namely, because the land is not theirs, but YAHWEH'S!

Verse 17

LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart. He had previously prayed, "forget not the humble (Psalms 10:12). Faith here takes for granted that what it has asked believingly it shall obtain effectually. "Thou hast heard ... the humble," (cf. 1 Chronicles 17:27, English version, and margin.) Not only the power to will, but also the will, is due to God's prevenient grace (Philippians 2:13). God prepares the heart, so that His people ask only such things as are pleasing to Him (Romans 8:26; Proverbs 16:1). He also, by prevenient grace, prepares them for doing His will (2 Chronicles 29:36; 2 Chronicles 30:12). So they are established in resisting all Satan's assaults, in the firm conviction of obtaining from God the promised deliverance. [ Kuwn (H3559) includes both ideas-prepare and establish.]

Verse 18

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

To judge the fatherless - to vindicate them from wrong.

That the man of the earth may no more oppress. The Hebrew expresses confidence rather than desire (which would require the abbreviated future). So "that the man of the earth" (literally, the weak mortal [ 'ªnowsh (H582)] of the earth, as opposed to the God of heaven) shall not continue to terrify [so the Hebrew, `aarats (H776)]. In Isaiah 47:12, the same Hebrew is translated "prevail."

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-10.html. 1871-8.
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