Psalms 10


The psalmist complains to God of the oppressions which the poor

suffer from the wicked man, whom he describes as the hater of

the poor, 1, 2;

proud, 3;

one who will not seek God, 4;

and is regardless of his judgments, 5;

self-confident, 6;

blasphemous and deceitful, 7;

strives by subtlety and treachery to destroy the poor, 8-10;

and supposes that God is regardless of his conduct, 11.

The psalmist calls earnestly on God to preserve the poor and

humble, and cast down the oppressor, 12-15.

He foresees that his prayer is heard; that judgment will be

executed, and the poor delivered, 16-18.


Verse 1. Why standest thou afar off, O Lord?] This Psalm makes a

part of the preceding in the Vulgate and Septuagint; and in four

of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. It seems to belong to the time

of the captivity, or the return of the captives. It was probably

made in reference to Sanballat, and the other enemies or the Jews.

There is a great similarity between this and Psalms xiii., xiv.,

xxxv., and liii. In these, as Calmet remarks, we find the same

complaints, the same sentiments, and almost the same expressions.

God is represented here as standing at some distance, beholding

the oppression of his people, and yet apparently disregarding it.

Verse 2. The wicked in his pride] On no principle of nature or

reason can we account for a wicked man persecuting a humble

follower of God because of his religion. The devil hates

godliness; and the wicked man hates it also, because the devil is

in his heart.

Verse 3. Boasteth of his heart's desire] Boasts among his

fellows how often he has gratified such and such passions, in such

and such circumstances. This shows the excess of a depraved and

imbruted spirit. He who can boast of his iniquity, is in the broad

road to perdition. Should such a one repent and turn to God, it

would be equal to any miracle.

Blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.] Or, he blesseth

the covetous, he abhorreth the Lord. Those who are like himself he

commends, and with them he associates; and they abhor the

Lord-they have a mortal hatred against every thing that is holy;

and they are under the full influence of that carnal mind which is

enmity to the Lord.

Verse 4. Will not seek after God] He is too proud to bend his

knee before his Judge; he is too haughty to put on sackcloth, and

lay himself in the dust, though without deep repentance and

humiliation he must without doubt perish everlastingly.

Verse 5. His ways are always grievous] Or, He is travailing in

pain to bring forth iniquity at all times. He is full of lust, or

irregular and unholy desires; he conceives and brings forth

sin; and sin being finished, time, place, and opportunity

concurring, death is soon brought forth.

Thy judgments are far above out of his sight] He is so blinded

with sin, that he cannot see the operations of God's hand.

He puffeth at them.] He whistles at them; insults God, and

despises men. He overthrows them with his breath; he has only to

give orders, and they are destroyed. "Bring me the head of

Giaffer," said an Asiatic despot. The head was immediately

brought! No trial, no judge, no jury; but the despot's will and


Verse 6. I shall not be moved] I have whatever I covet. I hold

whatsoever I have gotten. I have money and goods to procure me

every gratification.

Verse 7. His mouth is full of cursing, and deceit, and fraud]

What a finished character! A blasphemer, a deceitful man, and a


Verse 8. He sitteth in the lurking places] In this and the

following verse there appears to be an allusion to espionage, or

setting of spies on a man's conduct; or to the conduct of an

assassin or private murderer. He sitteth in lurking places-in

secret places; his eyes-spies-are privily set; he lieth in wait

secretly: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his

net. He is like a hunter that lays his traps and gins, digs

his pits, sets his nets; and when the prey falls into them, he

destroys its life.

Verse 10. He croucheth] Of the scoffing, mocking, insulting, and

insidious conduct of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, the fourth

and sixth chapters of Nehemiah give abundant proof; and possibly

the allusion is to them. The lion squats down and gathers himself

together, that he may make the greater spring.

Verse 11. God hath forgotten] He hath cast off this people, and

he will never more re-establish them. So Sanballat thought.

Verse 12. Arise, O Lord] Hear their reproaches see their guile,

consider thy oppressed people. "Lift up thine hand," threaten

them, that they may desist and repent. If they repent not let them

be punished.

Verse 13. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God?] How is it that

the Lord permits such persons to triumph in their iniquity? The

longsuffering of God leadeth them to repentance.

Verse 14. Thou hast seen it] Nothing can escape thy notice. Thou

hast not forgotten thy justice, though judgment is not speedily

executed on an evil work. But thou wilt requite it with thy hand.

By thy power thou wilt cast down and destroy the wicked.

The poor committeth himself unto thee] To thee he has given up

his body, his soul, and his cause; with the full conviction that

thou who art the helper of fatherless, will not forget him.

Verse 15. Break thou the arm] Destroy his power, deprive him of

his influence, that he may be no longer able to oppress.

Seek out his wickedness till thou find none.] All his public

haunts and private ways shall be investigated; thou wilt bring all

his villanies to light, and continue to inflict punishment, while

there is a crime to punish. Or, "Continue to judge and punish

transgressors, till not one is to be found." This agrees with the

following verse.

Verse 16. The Lord is king for ever] He has, and ever will have,

the supreme power.

The heathen are perished out of his land.] They are all either

cut off or converted. This may refer to the Canaanites. What a

mercy that we can say this of our own country! Once it was

entirely heathen; now not one heathen family in the whole land.

Verse 17. Lord, thou hast heard] Thou hast not permitted thy

tempted and afflicted followers to pray in vain.

Thou wilt prepare their heart] See the economy of the grace of

God: 1. God prepares the heart; 2. Suggests the prayer; 3.

Hears what is prayed; 4. Answers the petition. He who has got a

cry in his heart after God, may rest assured that that cry

proceeded from a Divine preparation, and that an answer will soon

arrive. No man ever had a cry in his heart after salvation, but

from God. He who continues to cry shall infallibly be heard.

Verse 18. That the man of the earth may no more oppress.] I

believe the Hebrew will be better translated thus: "That he may

not add any more to drive away the wretched man from the land."

Destroy the influence of the tyrant; and let him not have it again

in his power to add even one additional act of oppression to those

which he has already committed.

How many for the sake of their religion, and because they would

serve God with a pure conscience, have, by wicked lords, proud and

arrogant land owners, been driven off their farms, turned out of

their houses, deprived of their employments, and exposed to

wretchedness! While they served the devil, and were regardless of

their souls, they had quiet and peaceable possession; but when

they turned to the Lord, and became sober and industrious,

attended the means of grace, read their Bible, and were frequent

in prayer, then the vile man of the earth drove them from their

dwellings! In the sight of such Philistines, piety towards God is

the highest of crimes. What a dreadful account must these give to

the Judge of the fatherless and the oppressed!


This Psalm divides itself into three parts:-

I. A complaint against the enemies of the godly.

II. A narration of the enemies' malice.

III. A petition to be delivered from them.

I. 1. He complains of God's absence, which is quickened by the

question, 1. "Why standest thou afar off?" 2. "Why hidest thou

myself in times of trouble?" Ps 10:1.

II. He complains of the enemies: "The wicked in his pride doth

persecute the poor."

These he describes by eight characters:-

1. Insolence, pride, and the effect, persecution of good men.

Having acquired dignity, places of honour, and riches, they become

persecutors, they conspire to oppress good men. "Let them be taken

in their own devices," Ps 10:2. Amen.

2. The wicked man glories in mischief which is a sign of extreme

malice: "The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire," Ps 10:3.

3. He applauds and encourages others in their rapine and

spoil, to which they are moved by their covetousness: "He

blesseth the covetous," Ps 10:3.

4. He contemns God and man. 1. MAN. He never thinks of being

called to an account: God's "judgments are out of his sight, and

he puffs at his enemies." 2. GOD. Him he reverences not: "He will

not seek after God; neither is he in all his thoughts,"

Ps 10:4, 5.

5. He lives in profane security: "He saith in his heart, I shall

never be moved; I shall never be in adversity;" I am elevated

beyond the reach of misfortune, Ps 10:6.

6. He is full of falsehood and deceit: "His mouth is full of

cursing, deceit, and fraud." He will not stick at an oath. He will

curse himself; and take God to witness in his exactions, that he

is doing nothing but what is right, Ps 10:7.

7. He is cruel. See the 9th and 10th verses, where he is

compared to a thief, an archer, an assassin, a lion, &c. He

is bad in heart, Ps 10:6; in

tongue, Ps 10:7; in

work, Ps 10:8, 10:-he is altogether bad.

8. He is a close atheist: "He hath said in his heart, God hath

forgotten; he hideth his face, and will never see it:" which is

the cause of his cruelty, falsehood, security, &c., Ps 10:11.

III. The THIRD part is a petition to be freed from the wicked

man: "Arise, O Lord, lift up thy hand, forget not the humble,"

Ps 10:12. To induce God thus to act, he uses two arguments:-

1. That thereby God would assert his own glory. For why should

the wicked be suffered thus to blaspheme? "Wherefore doth the

wicked contemn God? He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not

require it," Ps 10:13.

2. The second argument is taken from God's nature and work. 1.

In punishing wicked men. 2. In defending the helpless. "Surely

thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite to requite

it," &c., Ps 10:14.

Then he returns to his prayer, and enforces his second argument

taken from the justice and office of God:

1. That he would deprive the wicked of his power and strength:

"Break thou the arm of the wicked-seek out his wickedness till

thou find none," Ps 10:15. Let none escape-let them appear no


2. That he would hear and defend the righteous. Be to thy people

what thou hast been in times past. 1. "The Lord is King for ever

and ever." 2. He had expelled the Canaanites before them: "The

heathen are perished out of the land." 3. "Thou hast heard the

desire of the humble," Ps 10:16, 17.

Upon which he concludes with profession of strong confidence:-

1. "Thou wilt prepare the heart of the humble."

2. "Thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." 1. To the safety of the

oppressed: "To judge the fatherless and the poor," Ps 10:18. 2.

To the ruin of the oppressor: "That the man of the earth may no

more oppress;" that he may have neither power nor influence left

by which he may be a plague to the upright, or a supporter of

infidelity, Ps 10:18.

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