Psalm 10 seems particularly appropriate to my mental state right now. It is a treatise on “the wicked”.
Throughout, singular pronouns are use (he/his/him), however the poet can’t be talking about an individual. Verse 6: “He says in his heart, ‘I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.’ ”
An individual can’t speak of operating “throughout all generations”. This is mankind, therefore; specifically the portion of mankind that can’t be considered “the righteous” or “the afflicted”, other categories that appear regularly in the Psalms.
With that in mind, when we read this psalm (please do; now if you can), we see that “the wicked” is boastful, greedy, arrogant; he preys upon “the poor” (another category); he is proud; he is a liar. His whole thinking is based on this premise: “There is no God.” Operating on that premise, the psalmist says…he is successful!
the wicked has it all wrong, he has fooled himself into thinking there’s no accountability
Based on our own experience, wouldn’t we be inclined to say the psalmist has it right? Mankind, as a whole, is exactly as described; see any news feed you prefer. It’s disturbing, even depressing.
This psalm opens with a cry to God: “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” We absolutely can identify with that cry. And we add our amen to the poet’s prayers for justice.
Going on, the psalmist leads us in a thought process. In verse 13 he asks, “Why does the wicked renounce God?” The answer has already been given: his pride etc. The wicked in his heart says there will be no accounting. But, verse 14, “But you DO see, you do note wrongdoing.” In other words, the wicked has it all wrong. He has fooled himself into thinking there’s no accountability, that because he hasn’t seen any consequences so far, he never will. But it isn’t so!
The prayer in verse 15 might seem strange to us, but it is the right prayer: “Break the arm of the wicked, call his wickedness to account.” It is not our place to impose accountability; that is for the Almighty God and His Anointed. It is our place to cry out, “Do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more!” (verse 18) This is the essence of the petition in the Lord’s prayer: “Your will be done on the earth.” Can’t happen, until “the wicked” are dealt with, individually and as a whole.
The Psalms can give voice to what we may not be able to put into words.
We look around at the world and what do we see? Beauty, truth, love—in what God has made, and (imperfectly) in human efforts that are aligned with God. But you don’t need me to point out that we see a lot of “the wicked”: what is corrupt, false, cruel. It would be overwhelmingly depressing, if we did not share this confidence with the psalmist:
The Psalms as a whole detail all of this. Anguish over the ascendency of evil in the world. Pleading for justice and for deliverance. Confidence that God, in His loving mercy and in His own time, will establish “the righteous” and recompense “the wicked”. Praise to Him. Visions of the glory that is to come. At whatever point in the emotional spectrum we may find ourselves, we have been provided with a voice. The Psalms can give voice to what we may not be able to put into words.
Sometimes it feels like we are falling, into cynicism or despair. But that would be to join “the wicked” in his conclusion, “There isn’t really a God.” He’s wrong. There is! He is King forever, He hears our cry, He will strengthen our heart. He will break the arm of “the wicked”. Say it again: He is King forever.