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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 10

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Psalms 10:0

1          Why standest thou afar off, O Lord?

Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

2     The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor:

Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

3          For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire,

And blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.

4     The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God:

God is not in all his thoughts.

5          His ways are always grievous;

Thy judgments are far above out of his sight:

As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.

6               He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved:

For I shall never be in adversity.

7     His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud:

Under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

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.

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.

10     He croucheth, and humbleth himself,

That the poor may fall by his strong ones.

11          He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten:

He hideth his face; he will never see it.

12          Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thine hand:

Forget not the humble.

13     Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God?

He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

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.

15          Break thou the arm of the wicked

And the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

17      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.


Its Character.—The last four strophes (Psalms 10:12 sq.) begin with the last four letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their order; Psalms 10:1 with ל; the six intervening strophes correspond in number with the corresponding letters; but they are not represented in acrostics. Many interpreters are therefore inclined to regard this Psalm, which is without title, but has many resemblances in its language to the previous Psalm, as originally a part of it, and indeed so that either the author has not succeeded in carrying out the alphabetical order so strictly as in the preceding part (most interpreters), or that the present Psalms 10:2-11 are a later substitute for the acrostic verses (Olsh.) But this very passage has a very ancient color, and is full of obscurity and is rough. Delitzsch, recognizing the peculiar subject of this Psalm as differing very widely from the preceding Psalm, would regard it rather as a copy of the form of the earlier Psalms 9:0, made not so much by David himself as by a poet about the same time. But how then can we explain the fact, that the alphabetical order, which begins with ל with so much purpose, should be given up already in the second strophe and reappear so long after? In the present form it is inadmissible to unite it with the ninth Psalm into one Psalm (as the Sept.). But the similarity cannot be denied, and the thoughts of the oppressed condition of the pious, who seem to be forgotten for awhile by God, which are expressed towards the close of the former Psalm passing over into petition and invocation of Jehovah, are here carried out into lamentation. There is a transition in Psalms 10:12. God is called upon to interfere; and he finally expresses the confidence that he will be heard (Psalms 10:17). For this reason we may very well regard them as belonging together as a pair of Psalms (Hengst.). [Vid. the introduction of the preceding Psalm.—C. A. B.]

Str. I. Ver I. Why.—For the explanation of the accentuation as oxytone, in order to give the word a firmness and emphasis especially before the name of God, vid. Hupf. The meaning is not, that of searching for the reason, not that of objection and displeasure, but it is a question of lamentation, with the request that God will draw near to judge and to help.

[Standest thou afar off.—Perowne: “Like an idle, passive spectator, unconcerned at the misery which he sees, but refuses to relieve.”—C. A. B.]—Hidest.—The covering over is here not expressed as reflexive = to conceal one’s self, but as active, so that we must supply: thine eyes (Is. 50:15), or thine ears (Lamentations 3:56).

Psalms 10:2. Through the pride of the wicked the afflicted man burns [A. V., The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor].—It does not mean the heat of persecution (many Rabbins, Calv.), no more the heat of anger (Hengst.), but the heat of anxiety (all ancient translators, and most modern interpreters), the heat of affliction (Clauss., Stier). [Perowne: “Through the proud dealing of the wicked their victims are placed in the fire or furnace of affliction.”—C. A. B.] The collective singular is exchanged for the plural in the second member. Since the subject is not given more particularly, there is an uncertainty whether the wicked are referred to as taken in their own craftiness, or the afflicted as taken in the plots devised by the wicked. With the first interpretation the verb is regarded as optative (Aquil., Jerome, Kimchi, Calv.), and the clause as a parenthesis, a pious ejaculation uttered in advance (Ruding). Most interpreters, however, adopt the second view, regarding it as indicative, with all the other ancient translations. This short statement of the circumstances is completely explained in the following verses, and thereby the propriety is proved of the lamentation which has been made.

Str. II. Psa 10:3. Blesseth the defrauder.—Hupf. maintains this interpretation, which is represented by Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Geier, et al, according to which the subject is contained in the verb, and the word which begins the clause is in the accusative. (This word means not an avaricious, covetous man or indeed a man who makes a gain generally, but a man who makes an unrighteous gain whether by craft or force). Indeed those who regard the substantive as subject. and the verb as passive (Sept., Vulg., Syr., Michael., et al.), or reflexive (Jerome, Venema, Stier), which the language does not allow, gain a similar sense. Others regard the subst. as subject, and take the blessing either in a bad sense = curse, abuse (Gesenius and De Wette with other of the fathers), or they get this meaning, which cannot be shown except in the language of the Talmud, through the meaning: valedicere, depart, forsake, renounce, which can certainly be proved (Rosenm., Ewald, Köst., Delitzsch, Hitzig), whilst Hengst. and Hofm. explain: he blesses, he reviles, no matter whether the one or the other.—Despiseth Jehovah.—[A. V., “whom the Lord abhorreth.” This is contrasted with the “blesseth the defrauder,” so Perowne, Wordsworth, et al. The authorized version is incorrect.—C. A. B.]

Psalms 10:4. The wicked in his haughtiness: “He doth not punish.”Thinks” or “speaks” is to be supplied after haughtiness. Earlier interpreters were in error in regarding these words as the predicate of the ungodly, and translating: he asks not, namely, after God [A. V] or Divine commands; or he does not investigate; or, indeed, he asks after nothing. [Perowne: “He (God) will not require it.” Wordsworth: “ ‘God will not make inquisition;’ there is no judgment to come. This is the impious and scornful spirit of which the prophets speak (Isaiah 5:19; Malachi 2:17), ‘Where is the God of judgment?’ and which St. Peter describes, ‘There shall come in the last day scoffers, walking after their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of His coming?’ 2 Peter 3:4.” Almost all modern interpreters are agreed in a similar translation.—C. A. B.]—“There is no God;” (thus) all his calculations.—This clause others, in accordance with the translations, regard as an exclamation: “There is no God in all his thoughts” [A. V., “God is not in all his thoughts.”]. Mich., Rosenm., et al., following Kimchi, more properly find the contents of his thoughts stated. Since however the text does not speak of thoughts but of calculations, and even in the previous clause the existence of God is not denied by the ungodly, but the activity of God, and indeed His judicial activity, Hengst., Hupfeld, Delitzsch, following Calv. and Venema, explain it with more accuracy thus: “God is not, are all His calculations,” that is, they are a continual practical denial of God.9

Str. III. Psa 10:5. Strong [A. V. grievous].—Since the entire passage is a description of the walk of the ungodly, and not of his lot, the reference of the Chald. “to the success of his undertakings,” which most interpreters follow, is not entirely correct. We might rather, with Luther and Geier, suppose a reference to the duration and perseverance of his bad conduct; only this does not agree very well with the clause: “at all times.” This would very well express the idea of daily, constant, if we could, with Schröder, (Comm. inPs. 10, Gröning. 1754) explain in accordance with the Arabic: distorted = crooked are his ways. But this meaning cannot be shown in the Hebrew, but rather that of being strong. Is not this meant to indicate the regardless and heedless, and therefore dangerous advance of the wicked to their purposes, treading down many persons and things; as contrasted with every kind of feebleness and sneaking conduct? The ancient translations are all astray on account of false etymologies.—Are far above, out of his sight.—[Barnes: “They are out of the range of his vision. His thoughts grovel on the earth, and he is never elevated in his view so as to see the great principles of truth.” Wordsworth refers to Job 22:12-13 “Is not God in the height of heaven? And thou sayest how doth God know?”—C. A. B.]—He puffeth at them.—This could be said of snorting in wrath, or thirst for blood (Chald.), or of blowing away (Symm., Calv., Hengst.), and blowing down (Isaki, Flam., Vatab.); it is best to refer it to a gesture of contempt (Syr., Jerome, and most others). [Hupf: “A description of the security of the wicked, all is favorable to him, and neither God nor man hinder him.” Riehm: “The third clause describes his relation to his enemies as the preceding his relation to God: he has neither God nor man to fear, Luke 18:14.”—C. A. B.]

Str. IV. Psalms 10:6. [Delitzsch: In his unbounded carnal security he lets his wicked tongue have free course.”—C. A. B.] The אשׁר brings into prominence the dear I of the proud fool (Delitz.) Others translate by “for,” [A. V.], or seek by a different pointing, to get the meaning of “success,” or failure, or successful, never unfortunate (Mich., Dathe, Köhler), or they change the reading. Hupf. and Camph. refer the clause as relative to the preceding word: generation = which is without misfortune. [Hupf.: “I shall not be moved for generations, or from generation to generation, which will be without adversity.” Riehm follows Hitzig thus: “אשׁר introduces the direct discourse, as 2 Samuel 1:4, and is put back in the clause as in the corresponding passage, Zechariah 8:20; Zechariah 8:23, “from generation to generation, that I shall not be in adversity.” Barnes: “The idea of the wicked is that they and their families would continue to be prosperous, that a permanent foundation was laid for honor and success, and for transmitting accumulated wealth and honors down to far distant times.”—C. A. B.]

Str. V. Psalms 10:8. Villages.—[Perowne refers to the haunts of the robbers, nomad encampments of predatory Bedouins, who thence fell upon helpless travellers.”10 Perowne: “There is some confusion in the metaphors employed. The wicked man is compared first to the lion watching for his prey, and then to the hunter taking wild animals in his net. Whereas again in Psalms 10:10 we seem to have the image of the wild beast crushing his prey.”—C. A. B.]

Psalms 10:10. He stoops [A. V., “croucheth.”]—A continued description of lying in wait (Chald., Isaki, Vatabl., Ewald, Olsh., Delitzsch). Others regard the unfortunate one as the subject, and translate with Aquil. and Jerome: and he sinks down crushed (Rosenmüller, De Wette, Hengstenberg, [Alexander, Perowne]), or they regard the adjective itself as the subject, and the oppressed sinks down (Hupfeld).11His strong ones, according to Mich., are the companions of the wicked, according to Jerome his powers, or according to the Rabbins, his limbs. Most interpreters suppose a particular reference to the claws or teeth of the lion. Others, with Chald. and Calv., regard the plural as indicating the abstract strength. Hupfeld, since the verb is in the singular, although elsewhere it is often connected with the plural of the subject, connects it with the preceding clause = and falls, on account of the singular which precedes. He does not then decide whether the concluding words form an adverbial clause = by his strength, the poor; or an independent clause = the poor are in his power.

Str. VI. Psalms 10:11. [Hupfeld: “Refrain with full meaning at the close of the lamentation, ground and motive of the action just described, and at the same time prelude to the following prayer.”—C. A. B.]

Str. VII. Psalms 10:12-13. [Delitzsch. “In contrast with those who have no God, or only dead idols, the Psalmist calls upon his God, the living God, that He will do away with the appearance that He was not the Omniscient, self-conscious being. The names of God are heaped up. He is to lift up His hand in order to punish.”—C. A. B.]

Str. VIII. Psalms 10:14. [Thou hast seen it.—Perowne: “An energetic protest against the words immediately preceding, and also with a reference to the ‘He will never see,’ Psalms 10:11, throwing back the words in the mouth of the wicked. There is a time coming he feels, when all this disorder will be set right. God is not the passive spectator of human affairs which these men deem Him.”—C. A. B.]—To take in thy hand—Most interpreters suppose a writing upon the hand in order to call to remembrance. Some, following Sept., Syr., Symm., Jerome, of giving over to punishment, others following the Chald., of punishment itself as requiting with the hand [So A. V.] Hupfeld finds here a reference to the energy and practical consequences of Divine knowledge, as a transition to action.

Str. IX. Psalms 10:15. [A. V., “Seek out his wickedness till thou find none.” Perowne: “When his wickedness is sought for, let it no more be found.” Wordsworth: “Thou wilt exercise a searching inquiry into all human actions, and wilt make a full end of iniquity by utterly destroying every vestige of it.” Riehm regards Jehovah as the subject, and the verb as imperative, as in the first member, and translates: “And the unrighteousness of the wicked mayest thou seek and not find it, the idea being that the wicked should be made so harmless that his wickedness should disappear without leaving any trace, so that God, when He seeks after it in order to punish it, may find it no more. God ever continues to seek out wickedness; but the Psalmist desires that it may be that He shall find nothing more to punish.”—C. A. B.] Respecting the eternal sovereignty of Jehovah, Psalms 10:16, compare Zechariah 14:9; Daniel 7:14; Revelation 11:15.—Jehovah is king forever.—[Alexander: “He is not dethroned, as His enemies imagine; He is still King, and will so remain in perpetuity and eternity, forever and ever.”—C. A. B.]

Str. X. Psalms 10:17. [Wilt prepare.—Hupfeld: “Strengthen their heart; to make a firm, comforted heart, unwavering in its feelings (Psalms 51:12; Psalms 57:8; Psalms 78:37; Psalms 112:7), in contrast to a heart agitated, trembling, shaken in its attitude, inconstant, fluctuating between hope and fear, and other opposite feelings. Here God strengthens by hearing, or rather by faith, the inner confidence that the prayer will be heard.”—C. A. B.]

Psalms 10:18. Terrify [A. V., “oppress.”]—The play upon words may be expressed in Latin: ne terreat—homo e terra. It may also be translated: defy (Sept., Jerome, Luth., Geier, Hengst.), or to be violent (Mich). The verb stands absolutely (Calv.) so that “they” (Kimchi) cannot be supplied. This translation: no longer will he (the wretched one) frighten man from the earth (Aben Ezra), is less appropriate; still less the very different rendering: they or he (the wicked man) will no more frighten the man (the miserable) from the land (Syr., Rosenm., De Wette). The earth is here not mentioned as the material from which the enôsh is made, but as the place of his abode, from which he rises in wickedness. Baur (in De Wette’s Comm.) proposes to refer the first words of the last line as parenthesis to the oppressed = he is it no longer, to regard the last words, however, as parallel with the previous line, as a statement of the kind of Divine help = frightening the rabble from the land. Böttcher translates: Let not the weak flee terrified from the land. [Riehm: “No longer will man inspire with fear from the earth.” The Psalmist expresses the confidence at the close corresponding with the wish, Psalms 9:19, “that it will result from God’s judgment that no wicked man, or that no man will any more be terrible to others, but Jehovah alone in heaven.” “This completely remedies the lamentation, Psalms 10:2.”—C. A. B.]


1. The enemies of the pious are not only strong, crafty, unscrupulous, cruel, and eager to devise the ruin of their opponents, but they are likewise without faith, and godless even to the extent of denying that there is a God. But whilst they rage. scorn, and blaspheme, and in their pride wickedly disregard all Divine commands, and offend against all human order and rights; God sees how they act and how His servants suffer; and God reveals to them both the power of his hand, as the God who is always and eternally King.

2. On this very account the pious very properly commit themselves to God, and this secures them from despair. But the time, before Divine help appears, is often very long, and it is hard for him to wait. It is well for him if he then strengthens his hope and revives his trust in God, and arms himself for patience in suffering, by prayer.

3. In the anguish of external trouble and internal affliction the pious may, with propriety, urge God to hasten to their relief; but although the voice of their lamentation may resound, yet it must not contain a complaint against God, as if He improperly delayed, or as if He left the afflicted in continual danger without reason, or as if He had purposely shut His eyes and ears against their need and prayers. In the realization of their weakness, they must give themselves and their cause entirely into the hands of God.


He who has nothing under him but the earth upon which he walks and stands, may indeed at times in wicked presumption be arrogant and proud as if there was no God; but he will ere long be cast down by the everlasting King, whom he blasphemes and denies.—Many speak about God, but act as if there were no God.—God sees all that takes place on earth, He neglects nothing, He forgets no one, but He will not have the time, the place, or the form of the revelation of His righteousness prescribed to Him.—We should learn patience by the patience of God.—With God there is indeed delay, but no neglect.—He who would see the fulfilment of his hopes, must not only believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him; he must likewise pray to God and wait upon God.—As sure as God is everlasting King, so sure is the final and complete ruin of the ungodly, and the final and eternal salvation of the pious.—If God has taken anything into His hands we need not trouble ourselves with care; but we must at all times humble ourselves under His powerful hand, and lie in His hand of grace.

Starke: God often hides His face from us, and postpones His help, only that we may pray more earnestly.—The more success the ungodly have in their heart’s desire, the less they care for God.—Pride and haughtiness make the ungodly so unreasonable that they do not inquire after man or God, and they regard all wholesome reflection as folly.—The security and dissoluteness of man receive their support in not reflecting upon the judgments of God.—If an ungodly man believes in the word of God, he must likewise believe that his fall is near, that it will surely come. Since however he does not believe this, he must likewise regard the word of God as lies.—The ungodly make lies their refuge and hypocrisy their shelter; but the curse reaches them.—To deny Divine providence is to blaspheme against God.—When God begins to search after wickedness, then everything must come out; for God sees even into the most secret corners.—As long as the enemies of Christ are unable to cast Him down from His throne of glory, His Church will remain in spite of all the devils.

Osiander: Those who say that God does not take up the affairs of men, do as much as deny that there is a God, and blaspheme Him in the most cruel manner.—Menzel: What makes the ungodly so secure in the world? 1) Their success and progress; 2) their great number and adherents; 3) their wicked heart, which despises God, and does not fear that He will punish their wickedness because He delays a little. Why are such complaints of the saints described to us? 1) That we may see how painful it is for the pious heart when God seems to give way to the wicked; 2) that we may likewise know the weakness of the saints; they have likewise flesh and blood, therefore they struggle wonderfully with their trials; 3) that we may learn that God can bear with such weakness if only faith is maintained.—Franke: The heart must first be brought into the school of the cross, if a word that treats of the cross, is to be relished by him, and give him strength and nourishment.—Baumgarten: As long as a man regards God as his enemy, he wishes that there were no God.—Although some things are forgotten for a time, and no creature is troubled about them, yet God will in His time inquire for them, and break the arm of the ungodly.—Herberger: Hell is behind the pride of the ungodly; heaven and eternal life are behind the sufferings of pious hearts.—To err is human, but to continue constantly in wickedness is devilish.—Taube: Pride and wrath are always brothers.—The severest conflict, but likewise the most brilliant victory in cross-bearing, is the believing appropriation of the power and grace of God to myself as an individual, and to my present circumstances.

[Matth. Henry: We stand afar off from God by our unbelief, and then we complain that God stands afar off from us.—Where there is a heart full of malice, there is commonly a mouth full of curses.—Let those that suffer by proud oppressors hope that God will in due time appear for them; for those that are abusive to them are abusive to God Almighty too.—Barnes: Pride is at the root of all the Atheism, theoretical or practical, on the earth; at the root of all the reluctance which there is to seek the favor of God; at the root, therefore, of the misery and wretchedness of the world. Men act as if they were not responsible to their Maker, and as if it were a settled point that He would never call them to account.—Spurgeon: To the tearful eye of the sufferer the Lord seemed to stand still, as if He calmly looked on and did not sympathize with His afflicted one. Nay more, the Lord appeared to be afar off, no longer “a very present help in trouble,” but an inaccessible mountain, into which no man would be able to climb. The presence of God is the joy of His people, but any suspicion of His absence is distracting beyond measure.—The refiner is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire, and the Son of God is always walking in the midst of the flames when His holy children are cast into them.—It is not the trouble, but the hiding of our Father’s face, which cuts us to the quick.—A smiling face and a rod are not fit companions. God bares the back that the blow may be felt; for it is only felt affliction which can become blest affliction. If we were carried in the arms of God over every stream, where would be the trial, and where the experience, which trouble is meant to teach us?—The only place where God is not 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.—Ah! there is one enemy who will not be puffed at. Death will puff at the candle of his life, and blow it out, and the wicked boaster will find it grim work to brag in the tomb.—God shall hunt the sinner forever; so long as there is a grain of sin in him it shall be sought out and punished.—God permits tyrants to arise as thorn-hedges to protect His Church from the intrusion of hypocrites, and that He may teach His backsliding children by them, as Gideon did the men of Succoth with the brier of the wilderness; but He soon cuts up these Herods, like the thorns, and casts them into the fire.”—Spurgeon’s Treasury of David: Thos. Watson: A spiritual prayer is an humble prayer.—The lower the heart descends, the higher the prayer ascends.—C. A. B.]


[9][Hupfeld regards it as unnecessary to supply “speaks” in the former clause, and translates thus: “The unrighteous in his pride: ‘he will not avenge it,’ ‘there is no God,’ are all his calculations.”—C. A. B.]

[10][Thomson, in the Land and the Book, p. 314, alludes to these verses thus: “A thousand rascals, the living originals of this picture, are this day crouching and lying in wait all over the country to catch poor helpless travellers.” And again, p 383: “It was somewhat novel to be riding gaily along this solitary shore with professed robbers, and these bushy ravines swarming with their comrades, prowling about like beasts of prey.”—C. A. B.]

[11][Thomson, Land and Book, p. 445, thinks that David has the panther in view who “lies flat on his belly, and creeps almost insensibly toward the flock. His color is like the surrounding grass and stubble. He will thus manœuvre for hours, until finally within leaping distance, when he springs with one tremendous bound upon his terrified prey.” This is likely in the mixture of metaphorics.—C. A. B.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 10". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-10.html. 1857-84.
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