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The psalm begins with two questions that voice the psalmist’s frustration as much as his ignorance. David could not understand why God did not act for His afflicted people. The word "why" occurs four times in this psalm, twice here and twice in Psalms 10:13 (as reflected in the NIV translation).
1. Description of the wicked 10:1-11
The emphasis in this part of the psalm is the problem of theodicy, the justice of God in the face of the prosperity of wicked Israelites. Like the Book of Job, the psalm does not resolve the problem but refocuses on God (Psalms 10:14).
This psalm is a prayer for immediate help in affliction. It contains a powerful description of the wicked who oppose God and attack His people. The focus of the previous psalm was on the judgment to come, but in this one it is on the present.
"The problem in Psalms 9 is the enemy invading from without, while the problem in Psalms 10 is the enemy corrupting and destroying from within." [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 106.]
David pictured the wicked who oppress the righteous in graphic terms in this section of verses. They are proud, boastful, greedy, blasphemous, arrogant, haughty, self-sufficient, prosperous, careless about God, belligerent, self-confident, complacent, abusive, deceitful, oppressive, destructive, mischievous, and wicked. They opposed both God and His people with their speech, as well as in their actions.
Using the figures of a predatory animal, like a lion, and a hunter, like a fisherman, David described how the wicked cunningly pursue and ensnare the righteous in their traps. The fact that God does not punish them more quickly encourages them to continue their destructive work.
David appealed to God to act for the righteous against the wicked (Psalms 10:12; Psalms 10:15; an inclusio). He could not understand why God allowed the wicked to continue to spurn Him. It was not because their actions had escaped the Lord’s notice. Beside this, the righteous were trusting in Him, and He had helped the helpless in the past. David wanted God to break the power (symbolized by the arm) of the wicked and to search out and destroy all their wickedness until it disappeared. Compare Psalms 9:12 where the same Hebrew word occurs. The translators have rendered it "requires blood" or "avenges" there, and "seek out" or "call to account" here.
2. Cry for vengeance 10:12-18
These closing verses express the psalmist’s confidence that God had heard his petition. Because Yahweh is sovereign, the ultimate authority in the universe, the nations that refused to submit to Him would perish. God’s land was Canaan, but in a larger sense the whole world is His land since He is King of all creation. In view of who God is, David was confident that, even though God did not judge the wicked immediately, He would do so eventually.
Some scholars believed that the "nations" here stand for the wicked in Israel who behaved like the heathen nations. [Note: E.g., John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms , 1:155; Mitchell Dahood, Psalms , 1:61; and VanGemeren, p. 129.] This is possible.
This psalm, as the preceding one, ends with a reference to the frail mortality of man (’enosh, Psalms 10:18; cf. Psalms 8:4; Psalms 9:19-20; et al.), who is bound to the earth, in contrast to God. In view of God’s power it is not right for Him to allow frail man to terrorize his fellows. Nevertheless, since God is sovereign, only He can decide when to step in and judge the wicked. [Note: See Allen, Rediscovering Prophecy, pp. 89-107.]
God’s delay in executing justice frustrates the righteous. We can live with this frustration because we know God is powerful enough to avenge the defenseless. He is also sovereign and just. Furthermore, His past acts of deliverance should encourage us as we wait for Him to bring justice to pass in the world.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 10". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany