When God Stands Afar Off

Psalm 10 opens with the Psalmist asking, “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide Yourself in times of trouble?” We do wonder at times why God doesn’t intervene when adversity or injustice occurs. Bible study reveals some answers, yet they may not precisely fit in a given situation.

The remainder of the Psalm reveals three responses when God stands afar off.

The Wicked Run to Evil (vv. 3-11)
The Preacher observed, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil” (Ecccleiastes  8:11). The Psalmist saw that too. When God doesn’t immediately respond to sin, too many decide that He doesn’t mean what He says, that they are free to do as they will. Bad proceeds to worse. The sinner is emboldened. “He says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it’” (v. 11).

The Afflicted Pray (vv. 12-15)
Victims of oppression seek God’s deliverance. He is their only hope. And what a hope He is—“the helper of the orphan” (v. 14c). God is often depicted that way (Exodus 22:22f; Deuteronomy 10:17f; Hosea 14:3; etc.). Those who seek His help must do more than simply ask; they must commit to Him (v. 14b), a commitment to be kept in all times, good and bad.

Please note that in this paragraph the Psalmist never says that he personally was a victim of the trouble he observed. Nevertheless, he prayed earnestly for those who were. The “afflicted,” then, are not just those who are directly injured; they are also those who sympathize with the victimized. It is those who “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and suffer with those who suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26).

The Righteous Remain Steadfast (vv. 16-18)
Psalm 10 ends on a confident note. The Psalmist may be discouraged, but he is not disheartened. He is resolved. He will remain steadfast. Steadfast in his conviction about God’s rule, despite not fully understanding it: “The Lord is King forever and ever.” Steadfast in his trust in God’s care: “You have heard the desire of the humble.” Steadfast in his trust in God’s promises: “You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.” And above all, steadfast in His obedience to God’s will.

Don’t lose your way when a circumstance arises in which God seems to stand afar off. Take your stand with Him and with the Psalmist.

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