1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor—
let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
3 For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
4 In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”;
all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 Their ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of their sight;
as for their foes, they scoff at them.
6 They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved;
throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”
7 Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
8 They sit in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places they murder the innocent.
Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert;
they lurk that they may seize the poor;
they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
10 They stoop, they crouch,
and the helpless fall by their might.
11 They think in their heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12 Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
do not forget the oppressed.
13 Why do the wicked renounce God,
and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”?
14 But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief,
that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
you have been the helper of the orphan.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers;
seek out their wickedness until you find none.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations shall perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
18 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
so that those from earth may strike terror no more.
Take some time to read this Psalm through a few times. Get a sense of the picture David is painting. How much do you agree? Does it seem like God is far off? Does it seem like those who are bent on evil and destruction are having their way? Do you believe that they live believing that God will not hold them to account and that doesn’t even see what they are doing?
There are times when it is impossible not to feel the way David does. David asks God point blank: “Why do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” At a deeper level he is asking God, “why do evil people do evil things and you don’t lift a finger?”
The Psalms remind us that it is okay to go toe to toe with God. He is big enough to take it. We can cry from our heart and asks questions that might make us uneasy. Notice, however, where David ends up with this prayer. He doesn’t end it with despair believing that God doesn’t care. No. He ends in faith. Confident that God will take care of the matter. He will respond with justice.
Take heart because God will, “hear the desire of the meek;” he will “strengthen their heart,” and will incline his ear “to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.”
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