Prior to his martyrdom at the hands of Nero, Paul gave believers a prophetic word about what to expect in the last days prior to Tribulation foretold by Jesus in Matthew 24. Here is what the wise, spiritually seasoned saint told us while writing on parchment to Pastor Timothy:
1 But realize this, that in the last days’ difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self- control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these (2 Tim. 3).
Need I say I think these times are here? Consider recent history:
- The racial injustice brutally exhibited by an out-of-control police officer and his do-nothing police accomplices in Minneapolis shocked everyone.
- The riots, looting, beatings, fire-bombings, robberies, burglaries, and killings which followed in many of our cities left many wondering what this had to do with establishing true justice.
- Watching our first amendment rights vaporize before us for daring to speak factual truth about a variety of culture issues, leaves honest, law-abiding people wondering where this will lead.
- Seeing our own Governor quickly pass legislation designed to silence the moral voice of churches on issues involving sexuality and marriage, smacks more of tyranny than tolerance and truth.
- Reading the stats of countless innocent people mowed down each weekend at record rates in some of our largest cities, reveals how utterly ruthless and lawless we are becoming. Is not man made in God’s image valuable anymore?
- Toppling statues, many on federal land, of any and all individuals, who had clay feet and were by no means sinless, but who were used of God to accomplish noble societal things, seems to be the most righteous thing a person, who also has clay feet, can do today to establish justice. Will this work? Or will this ultimately lead to the dissolution and destruction of country so it can be replaced by another political system which is supposedly better and more morally erect? One must wonder as the chaos ensues.
- Burning American flags on the homes of citizens seems to be a “righteous” action against a supposedly unrighteous nation. Never mind it could cost the occupants of the home their lives.
I know you get the picture. We are living in tough, tumultuous, and trying times.
David also lived in times like ours. He, too, struggled, as a godly man with clay feet, with how he should live, lead, and respond to the social disintegration of his country. For those in short supply of hope today, I think you will find a heavy dose of hope embedded in Psalm 10. In this highly emotionally and openly honest Psalm, King David shows us how he can to a place of hope (and peace) when the majority of his culture embraced spiritual/moral darkness over light.
How Can Christians Have Hope In Seemingly Hopeless Times? (Psalm 10)
In this personal lament, David openly and candidly shares his heart and how his troublesome, twisted times challenged him and taught him how to think biblically. Though he lived three thousand years ago, his struggles as a saint and God’s solution(s) are timeless, meaning they are as applicable to us today as they were to David.
How does the king move us toward hope? Three movements of thought guide us from the pit of despair and dismay to the pinnacle of hope.
Be Open About Problems (Psalm 10:1-11)
Are you? Do you typically tell God what you think about His action or inaction in the immoral quagmire around you? Do you pull your head out of the sand and stay up on the advancement of wickedness masquerading as righteousness? Do you talk to television anchors as they give their slanted version of a story? Do you stuff your feelings about the sin you see about you? David lived life in the raw. Within these eleven verses, he details eight seemingly unchecked movements of evil in his day:
He opens with an emphatic statement denoted by the placement of the Hebrew :) ָל ָ ֣מה ( interrogative, lamah) 1:01. Ps(ל ָ ֣מ ה ֭ ְי ה ָו ה ַתּ ֲע ֣ ֹמ ד ְבּ ָר ֑ח וֹ ק LamahYahwehta’amodberachok. Translated:
1 Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
The second “why” of the follow-up question is not in the Hebrew text. This is called ellipsis and it is a rhetorical device designed to make the statement in question drip with emotional emphasis. The fact David employed the name, LORD, or Yahweh, serves to underscore his questions for since God is the Eternal One, which is denoted by this covenantal name given to Moses (Ex. 3:14-15), this reality heightens his wonder (and shock) that God seems to have left the scene when things heated up.
Ever felt like this? Ever wondered where God was when evil seems to advancement with little or no divine curtailment? Ever been stupefied as to why God does not come down here and quickly and immediately deal with all the injustice in the world He created? Ever pondered when evil people would finally be silenced by the living God? Ever been simply overcome with less than optimal news reports when God could, if wanted to, make those reports joyful instead of mournful?
David knew God was/is omnipresent. That was not debatable in his mind. The heat was his issue, or his feelings where sin’s unabated, unchecked rise was concerned. It felt like God looked on his life from a distance, or that He had hidden himself as the wicked got away with wickedness. Again, I ask you, ever felt like this? I have many times. What should you do if you feel this way? Get real. Get honest. Let God know what you are thinking and feeling so He can help you work through it.
In order to “wake God up” (as if we can do this), or to motivate Him to finally step in and put a stop to evil, David lists the nine major advancements of wickedness he encountered on a daily basis. Believe me, each one of these could be a sermon in and of itself, hence, for our limited purposes I will only briefly touch upon them.
One, the wicked ruthlessly go after the less fortunate.
2 In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
“The afflicted” is from the Hebrew ani ( ָע ִנ ), which denotes either a poor person, or a nice, humble, I-would-never-hurt-a-fly type of person. In this instance, David is overcome by those cocky people who purposefully devised dastardly schemes designed to destroy unsuspecting people, and they executed their pernicious plans as one in hot pursuit of another. Like a laser locked on its target, these evil people key on someone they can defraud so they can bask in the monetary kill.
The word “to burn” is dalaq( דּלק), a common Hebrew word for igniting something in order to destroy it. Once the evil scheme is launched it leaves the unsuspecting person in a financial furnace of fire, wondering how they were duped so easily.
Think of how ruthless, immoral people in our day prey on senior citizens with all types of scams, and you have grasped David’s angst. Medicare and health insurance scams can lead a senior to lose money meant for him or her. Phone scams where someone with no scruples tricks a senior into giving them their user name and passcode to their bank account so it can be unfrozen because of suspicious activity, will instantly leave the person penniless in their sunset years. Telephone scams where the person pretends to be a grandson/granddaughter in need of money quickly because of an adverse situation, again, can bilk a senior out of thousands of dollars . . . all while the arrogant person feels victorious in their evil scheme.
No wonder David says, God could I live to see a little lex talionis, a little eye for eye-tooth for tooth in this situation. When my father died in August of 2008, my mother called all the Visa cards my father used for his government contracting job. She knew he kept them zeroed out, but was shocked to discover someone had charged thousands of dollars on them. Seems like someone in one of his offices had sold his personal information to a national gang who quickly used his cards to go on year-long shopping spree in his name. My tenacious mother eventually got the whole matter cleared up, but she did it while she grieved my father’s death. How ruthless of the lady who did this.
My mother was thrown into a financial furnace. But she knew the words of Spurgeon where true when he said, “The refiner (God) is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire, and the Son of God is always walking in the midst of the flames when his holly children are cast into them.” 1
Two, the wicked boasts in his evil.
3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD.
When he rips someone off, he gloats about it. When he overly pads his sales commission by putting a high price on a product while dealing with a clueless person, he high fives himself when he pulls it off (I speak as a former boat salesman in college . . . I’ve seen this in action on the sales floor). When he does something which crosses a culturally acceptable line, he, now, stops and takes a selfie and sends it to all his friends by way of Instagram. They, then, all gloat together at his guts, “courage,” and evil prowess. And because he gets away with his criminal activity, he has no qualms about cursing God for God did not step in and stop him. Unbelievable.
Three, the wicked is a law unto himself.
4 The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His pride keeps him from thinking he needs God, after all, he has himself and that is enough. For all practical purposes the person is an atheist who lives each day as if there is no God he will ever have to give account to. Further, if there is no God, then he is quite free to devise his own laws, rules, and regulations to live by. Is this not the people of our day? Because truth is relative, there is not definitive moral/ spiritual truth, just an endless array of truths, resulting in no one being able to judge anyone else for how they chose to live. All of this accounts for how old absolutes have been replaced by new absolutes.
William Watkins details these in his ground-breaking book The New Absolutes:
THE OLD ABSOLUTE THE NEW ABSOLUTE
Religion is the backbone of American culture, providing moral and spiritual light needed for public and private life.
Religion is the bane of public life, so for the public good it should be banned from the public square.
The institution of marriage is God-ordained and occurs between a man and a woman until death severs the bond.
Marriage is a human contract made between any two people, and either party can terminate it for any reason.
Yes, if there is no God, man is left to devise what laws he thinks are valid or invalid. Of course, his new laws leave ample room for him to call darkness, light, and light darkness and to harangue, persecute, and vilify anyone who would dare say likewise. Billy Joel did a good job at tipping his hand in this godless direction when he sang,
They say there's a heaven for those who will wait Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints The sinners are much more fun
You know that only the good die young I tell ya
Only the good die young
Only the good die young
Do you sense the atheistic cocky, mocking pride directed at Virginia, a moral young woman? Four, the wicked seems to always get what they want.
5 His ways prosper at all times;
Think of Jezebel setting up godly Naboth to get him killed so she could seize the property/vineyard her husband, the king, coveted (1 Kings 21), and you have an idea of how David felt here. She set Naboth up on false charges of insurrection against the king by paying off two false witnesses, and it was not long until the people stoned the “traitor” to death. How is it that godless people seem to get away, day in and day out, with all kinds of crimes, while godly, God- fearing people are intimated, persecuted, and sidelined for living moral, upstanding lives? How many of our politicians have committed crimes, which many in our military would be prosecuted for, yet they walk free and still exercise the power of their positions? God, where are you?
Five, the wicked could care less about God’s law. Here David circles back, in a way, to what he said back up in verse four.
Your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
Translated, God’s laws are so high, so (purposefully) removed from the wicked, it is as if they might as well be located on the edge of our solar system. The Ten Commandments? They aren’t just Ten Suggestions, the wicked does not even know, or care, what they are. He devises his own ever-changing laws. Thou shalt not worry about perversion of any sort. Thou shalt not deny thyself any sexual pleasure, be what it may. Thou shalt seek indictments without adequate investigations. Thou shalt denigrate anyone who shares facts with you which show you the weakness of your position. Thou shalt call your opponents the names of what you really are so they suffer and not you. Thou shalt say one thing in public and another thing in private. Thou shalt substitute vile words, yelling and screaming for sound argument and debate. Thou shalt
oppose law and order because it is lawless and you are lawful. Thou shalt live as if there is no God but be upset when others do likewise because it is an affront to you.
I could go on, but I am sure you get the picture. What will be (what is) the result of this free-thinking view of law? Societal and personal disintegration, chaos, and ultimately collapse, wherein the strongest will step up to rule and control others.
Six, the wicked mocks anyone who opposes him. As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them.
The Hebrew word for “snorts,” puack (פּוח) means to push air quickly out your nose in disgust of someone or in relation to what they just said. I am sure every time Jeremiah corrected the false, misleading words from false prophets and priests of his day about approaching divine wrath for their misdeeds, they snorted as his “stupidity,” and outright arrogance for not going with the party line that there was going to be peace, not war. Listen and learn:
7 . . . All day long I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. 8 Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage I proclaim; The word of the LORD has brought me reproach and derision all day long. 9 I say I will not mention him, I will no longer speak in his name. But then it is as if fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding back, I cannot! 10 Yes, I hear the whisperings of many: "Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!" All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. "Perhaps he can be tricked; then we will prevail, and take our revenge on him" (Jer. 20).
Ever been here? I have. When God does not silence the godless critics it makes one wonder where He is and when He is going to step in so truth can prevail . . . so there is peace.
Seven, the wicked thinks (wrongly so) he is invincible.
6 He says to himself, “I will not be moved; throughout all generations I will not be in adversity.”
Pharaoh thought this.
2 Pharaoh answered, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go" (Exod. 5).
Our country is over-run with Pharaoh-types today. They have been successful with their evil for so many years and with such great followings, they think their rule and reign will go forever. Whether it is a corrupt politician or a white collar criminal, they just cannot fathom ever being caught for what they are doing in the dark. Concerning them, Spurgeon once quipped, “This is the ruin of fools, that when they succeed they become too big, and swell with self-conceit, as if their summer would last forever, and their flowers bloom on eternally. Be humble, O man! For thou art mortal, and they lot is mutable.”3 Good advice which is falling on the ears of countless deaf people. Is this you? Are you full of yourself, your immoral advancements masquerading as moral wins?
Eight, the wicked is a verbally vile and deceitful person.
7 His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; under his tongue is mischief and wickedness.
Jesus was right.
18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. (Matt. 15).
It does not take long to identify the godless person hiding behind a thin veil of righteousness. Just let them make a few posts on their Facebook page and you will quickly see who they really are.
They drop the F-bomb like a parishioner in a Pentecostal church might say “Amen” all the time during a pastor’s sermon. Truly, out of the mouth the heart speaks and tells us who you are and what you are really all about.
Nine, the wicked hunts the godly, the moral person. Why? This type of person pricks their conscience with truth, this person keeps them from having (immoral) fun, from doing what they want without judgment, from pushing moral parameters and thinking it is a holy endeavor, and so on and so forth. David has seen them in action too many times. Note how much time he devotes to talking about what these wicked people do.
8 He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the hiding places he kills the innocent; His eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate. 9 He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair; He lurks to catch the
afflicted; He catches the afflicted when
he draws him into his net. 10 He crouches, he bows down, And the unfortunate fall by his mighty ones.
The wicked here are metaphorically here depicted like a hungry lion on the hunt for prey. He is also like a bird hunter who sets traps to snare unsuspecting birds. Again, is this not what they people did in relation to Jeremiah? Indeed.
18 "Come," they said, "let us devise a plot against Jeremiah, for instruction will not perish from the priests, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. Come, let us destroy him by his own tongue. Let us pay careful attention to his every word" (Jer. 18).
Why did the people act like this? Because he had just told them truth . . . or he had courageously told them the truth about how God was going to soon deal with their godlessness. All of this truth-talking, of course, bothered them so they just had to shut him down by paying strict attention to his words. Perhaps if he tripped up, if he said the wrong socially unacceptable word to the wrong person, they could get him canceled. Once more, is this not our culture. Need I give you any illustrations? Say the “wrong” thing and you are befriended on Facebook, or barred from Twitter. Yes, use a word they deem is a micro-aggression will cost you as they work to quickly cancel your life as you know it. Funny how the godless who were for tolerance, are not intolerant of the godly.
Looking back over this list, David goes back to what he said in verses three and four.
11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it.”
Because God is patient with the wicked, because He lovingly gives them ample space to repent before He moves in judgment, the wicked, on the contrary, take this as a sign of divine weakness and conclude they will never be judged for how they live so contrary to Him. While our world runs around labeling all kinds of things as sinful, they typically miss the big ones to God.
16 There are six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him;
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that are quick to run to evil, 19 The false witness who utters lies, and the one who sows discord among kindred (Prov. 6)
Pride, which originated in the Devil’s quest to unseat God (Isa. 14), tops the list. Pride blinds you to the person and presence of the living God, and it keeps you from seeing your sin, while motivating you to self-righteously see the sin in everyone around you which needs confession, repentance, and work. Hell will be full of prideful people who will be shocked that God is omniscient, that He is privy to their immoral lives and godless thinking, and they will be humbled when they see Him face to face.
In the meantime, they continue to be, well, mean.
How should we, as Christians respond, other than asking God, “Where are you? What are you waiting for?” David gives us the much needed insight in the ensuing verses which head in a positive, uplifting, hope filled direction:
Get Real About Pleas (Psalm 10:12-16)
A couple of opening imperatives here, from a lesser (David) to a greater (God), give us an idea how we should move toward hope in seemingly hopeless times.
12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted.
David, again, employs the name denoting God as the Eternal One. He rightly did this for since God “is,” then it is quite appropriate for His people to call upon Him to take action where evil is concerned. His anthropomorphic call for God to life His hand is nothing more than a request for God to finally step in and do something with sin and sinners.
Before David got to his actual request from God, he paused and offered a though which shocked him:
13 Why has the wicked spurned God? He has said to himself, “You will not require it.” 14 You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan.
In verse 13, David says, “Why would the wicked EVER think they could get away with their evil? How illogical. How could they EVER think they would never face a just God for their unjust actions?” How dangerous.” Why? Because as David says, God does see the mischief and vexation, and since He sees and knows about it, there WILL BE a day, a time of divine accounting.
13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account (Heb. 4).
It does not get any clearer. It does not matter who you are, what your race is, how well-educated you are, how much money you have in investments, or who you happen to have in your contacts list, the living God will hold you to account for all of your words, actions, and thoughts on judgment day (Ecc. 12:14; Matt. 10:26; John 5:24-25).
David also looks back over his life and concludes that God does, at times, step in and help the helpless, the humble who are just minding their own business and seeking to live for God. Did He not finally step in and assist old man Noah in his day? Indeed (Gen. 6; Heb. 11:7). These historical interventions are a motivation for what David requests from God in verse 15:
15 Break the arm of the wicked and the evildoer, seek out his wickedness until You find none.
This just a figurative way of David asking God to do something to break the advancing power of the wicked (Psalm 44:3). There is nothing wrong with this. A Christian is certainly acting in a Christ-like fashion when he or she asks God to move in a certain godless situation to divinely destroy, however God chooses, the particular power-base of the wicked. Note, the change does not come through new laws, rules, and regulations, but from on high, from God who sits on His throne.
Is this not what happened in the life of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a key Hamas terrorist leader, Sheikh Hassan Yousef? While saints prayed for God to turn the tide in the work of terrorists, God worked in and through various events to lead this young man to a saving faith in Christ. As a result, dozens of suicide attacks and assassinations of Israelis were thwarted. His book, Son of Hamas, tells the full story in case you are interested.
Instead of complaining, griping, and worrying about all of the advancement of evil about you, why not pray for the
advancement of the gospel of Christ? When is the last time you really committed to doing this? We cannot create a utopia on this sin-ridden planet, try as we might, for man is sinful through and through (Rom. 3). All mankind has clay feet. We can, however, pray for God to unleash the power of the gospel which can make all the difference by changing men’s hearts before the holy God.
Writing about the power of prayer where the life-giving gospel is concerned, Cal Thomas recounts how revival broke out, according to J. Edwin Orr, in our godless land in the mid-1800s in his book What Works,
. . . two men who worked on Wall Street were so concerned about the moral condition of American in 1857 that they decided to meet once a week on their lunch hour to pray for revival Soon they began to meet every day and were joined by others. The group grew so large they had to start meeting at night in the churches and invite their wives. It wasn’t long before the revival exploded, racing up the Mohawk River and down the Hudson.
At the height of the revival, writes, Orr, ten thousand people per week were being converted in New York City. It spread down through the Appalachians to the West. A young Chicago shoe salesman asked to teach a Sunday school and was told they had too many teachers, but to get some boys off the street and they would be his class.
That was the beginning of Dwight L. Moody’s powerful ministry, which lasted fifty years.
When the revival jumped the Atlantic, writes Orr, there was a slowdown in the Welsh coal mines because so many miners were converted they stopped using bad language and the horses couldn’t understand what was being said to them.
In London, taverns closed and crime virtually disappeared. The police literally had nothing to do, so they formed quartets and sang at the revival meetings.
It was spiritual revival that brought social change, not politics and government.4
I think we desperately need one of these revivals. I think we need a lot less protesting and a whole lot more praying, for only when God moves does real peace and justice come into to overpower chaos and injustice. Talk about THE reason for hope! The hope for mankind in hopeless times is found in the Christ who can give him spiritual life where there is death.
If you have been playing, it is time to start praying for that is where the hope is for our sin- tattered, deceived, and disoriented world.
A third thing you should do to have hope in hopeless times is found in the closing verses. At this juncture, David’s words build to a crescendo:
Give God Praise (Psalms 10:16-18) Let David’s model be your model:
16 The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land. 17 O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear 18 To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.
David’s praise centers on the unshakeable reality that God is THE King eternal, which means that all of man’s kingdoms will fall one-day before Him. Yes, one day THE King will appear in all of His regal glory, just as He said He would (Matt. 24), and then and only then will truth triumph over falsity, and good over evil. And then and only then will all who have been oppressed find the true utopia because God will remove all those who cause terror today.
This is the believer’s hope. No wonder Christ called us to pray, “Our Father who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name, they kingdom come . . .” Ah, Lord, may it be so. Ah, Lord, may the truth of your coming kingdom give us inexorable, unshakeable hope as we live in a world dominated by sin and sinners.