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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 10

In the Septuagint and Vulgate this psalm is united to the preceding, but for what reason is not clear. Most modern interpreters prefer to consider them as pairs, from the resemblance of various expressions, their similar marks of antiquity, and the apparent traces in Psalm x of an attempt to supplement the imperfect alphabetical arrangement of Psalms 9:0. But these coincidences are too vague and inconclusive to overbear the internal evidence of their being two separate and independent productions. They cannot belong to the same occasion. Psalm ix is a triumph; Psalm x is a lamentation. Psalm ix presents the Hebrew power as dominant, and their enemies as prostrate; Psalm x places the wicked in power, and the covenant people in oppression and reproach. In Psalm ix the conquered enemies of Israel are the גוים , ( goyim,) the gentile nations; in Psalm x the enemy is still the goyim, (Psalms 10:16,) who appear to have obtained a foothold in the land to distress the Hebrew family. In Psalm ix the enemy is marshalled in war; in Psalms 10:0 he has intrenched himself in politics and civil life. The psalm is anonymous and without title, and, though it suits well enough David’s style, it would also class well with the Korahite or Asaphic effusions. The evils complained of are not such as a vigorous administration could remedy, but such as baffled and defied the sovereign power of the State. There is no time of David’s reign answerable to the internal state of Israel as herein described. It better suits their later condition in the period of the captivity.

The principal divisions are two: Psalms 10:1-11, a description of the character and practice of the writer’s enemies; Psalms 10:12-18, a prayer for their instant overthrow, with a confident anticipation of the result.

Verse 1

1. Why Not a demand for the reason of delay, but a plaintive appeal for help.

Afar off… hidest… thyself Not literally, but in appearance seemest to hide thyself.

Verse 2

2. Wicked The man who breaks law and departs from right with knowledge and of set purpose. The term is used five times in the psalm. It is not an ideal picture, but a living description of an actual state of society under the misrule and outrages of the worst conceivable men.

Poor This is the oppressed class, the opposite of the “wicked.” The title includes the ideas both of humble and afflicted; and under different original words is given seven times. Called, also, the “innocent,” “fatherless,” “oppressed.” Psalms 10:8; Psalms 10:14; Psalms 10:17.

Verse 3

3. Blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth Literally, he blesseth the covetous, and blasphemeth Jehovah. This preserves the antithesis. “Covetous,” here, is not only the man of evil desire, but the man that robs and commits violence to gratify it.

Verse 4

4. Will not seek He takes no pains to inquire if there be a God, or a moral government which holds men accountable.

Thoughts Devices, schemes. In all his plans he makes no account or recognition of God.

Verse 5

5. Grievous Rather, firm, sure, prosperous, as the true etymology would give it. See Hebrew of Job 20:21. This also agrees with what follows.

Thy judgments are far above out of his sight Divine judgments are delayed. God suffers the plans of “the wicked,” for a time, to succeed, and as retribution is beyond the reach of his sensible vision, he seems to himself to be prosperous and safe.

His enemies, he puffeth at them An expression of scorn. He treats all opposition with contempt and derision.

Verse 6

6. Never be in adversity To generation and generation I shall not be in evil: not be troubled.

Verse 7

7. Cursing… deceit… fraud The word “cursing” may be rendered false swearing, as in Hosea 10:4; connected with lying, (Hosea 4:2, Psalms 59:12,) or execration, invoking a curse upon others; or it may mean an oath with a curse or imprecation added to sanction the statement, as in Numbers 5:21-22. The first seems to be the true sense. “Deceit,” Hebrew, deceits; the plural for intensity. This applies to the external false show and promise of his words. “Fraud;” the internal guile, the falsity of his intentions.

Under his tongue Words under the tongue are words concealed, as yet unspoken, but ready for an occasion. Some suppose an allusion is here made to the poison sac of the serpent, which lies at the root of the fang tooth. See Job 20:12-13.

Mischief and vanity Literally, labour and iniquity, as if he were in restless toil of secreting and fashioning wicked and deceitful words.

Verse 8

8. In… lurking places In ambush.

Villages Unwalled towns; hence more exposed to depredations.

Privily set The word may mean to hide, or to intently watch, like a scout or a spy.

Verse 9

9. Secretly as a lion The figure is now borrowed from the habits of beasts of prey, the most perfect for secrecy, wariness, deceit, and cruelty.

In his den Rather, in his covert, or covered place, where he watches for prey.

Draweth him into his net The figure changes to the method of the hunter in catching wild animals.

Verse 10

10. Croucheth The figure now changes back to the habits of the beast of prey. The lion never runs upon his prey, but always first crouches flat, and then springs upon his victim.

Strong ones His terrible jaws, teeth, and prehensile armament; or the plural may be used for the abstract, strength.

Verse 11

11. God hath forgotten This is the common error of the wicked. Because judgment is delayed they are emboldened to say, “God hideth his face,” does not see it, takes no legal notice of crime. See Psalms 10:13; Psalms 73:11; Ezekiel 8:12.

Verse 12

12. Arise, O Lord Against the blasphemous unbelief and wickedness already described, the psalmist calls upon Jehovah, the Almighty, to show his power and justice in defence of his own law and covenant promise.

Lift up thy hand An allusion, probably, to the custom of oriental masters in giving their orders to servants by the motion of the hand. Thus Baron de Tott: “The muzar aga, (or high priest,) coming into the hall, and approaching the pasha, whispered something in his ear, and we observed that all the answer he received from him was a slight horizontal motion with his hand, after which the vizier, instantly resuming an agreeable smile, continued the conversation. We then left the hall of audience and came to the foot of the great staircase, where we remounted our horses. Here nine heads, cut off and placed in a row on the outside of the first gate, completely explained the sign which the vizier had made use of in our presence.” See note on Psalms 123:2

Verse 13

13. Thou wilt not require it Thou wilt not search it out, to make men legally answerable for their conduct. On this assumption the hope of the wicked is founded.

Verse 14

14. Thou hast seen it The psalmist repels their blasphemy. God does behold human actions with legal cognizance.

To requite it The word rendered “requite” signifies to give, but the connexion determines what this giving is, namely, according to desert, judicial retribution.

The poor committeth himself unto thee Literally, the poor will abandon himself to thee. He seeks, he accepts, no other refuge. Here is the faith that meets, and rebukes, and conquers fundamental scepticism.

Fatherless Such as have no earthly protector.

Verse 15

15. Seek out Thou wilt seek out. This stands opposed to the doctrine of the wicked in Psalms 10:13, where, using the same word, they say: “God will not require, or seek out,” the sin, to punish it.

Verse 16

16. The Lord is King Strong faith in the government of God triumphs. It breaks through the darkness like the sun through the rifted cloud.

The heathen The goyim, gentile nations, clearly designating who these wicked oppressors are. See Psalms 9:5; Psalms 9:15; Psalms 9:19

Verse 18

18. Man of the earth Man, ( אנושׁ ), enosh,) frail man, as in Psalms 9:19-20, is not here designated as simply made of earth, but as having his abode here, and choosing this world as his portion. See note on Psalms 17:14.

Oppress The word commonly means to affright, terrify, and the sentence may read: “That frail man of the earth shall not continue to terrify.” This is in harmony with the wish expressed Psalms 9:19-20. Let not man continue to be a terror to his fellow man, but let God appear for judgment, and let all fear him.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-10.html. 1874-1909.