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Psalm 10

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In the previous Psalm, David spoke with faith and conviction.  In this Psalm, David speaks during a time of frustration.  There is some evidence that both of these Psalms were tied together - a single acrostic poem where each stanza began with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  I like to view them as two human perspectives of the same ordeal:  Psalm 9 from the perspective of faith and trust in the Lord, and Psalm 10 as one focusing on the hopelessness of the situation.  Let us begin by reading Psalm 10.  Once again I have organized them into four paragraphs:  

Verse 1: "Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?  In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.  He boasts about the cravings of his heart;he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.  In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  His ways are always prosperous  your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.  He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

Verse 2:  "His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.  He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent.  His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait.  He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.  He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

Verse 3:  "Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.  Do not forget the helpless.Why does the wicked man revile God?  Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”?  But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.  The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man;call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out."

Verse 4 (or chorus):  "The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror." 

Rather than begin with thanksgiving, David begins by complaining.  Where are you God?  Why are you hiding?  Look, don't you see the wicked man and his schemes?  The evil man boasts and appears to prosper.  The evil man rejects the laws of God and seems to get away with injustice.  Each of David's quotes are from the perspective of the evil-doer rather than his knowledge of God and His goodness.  How often do we begin our prayers in a similar fashion? 

David continues to focus his eyes on the details of the issue (rather than on the Lord) in the second verse.  Look God, the evil one is speaking lies.  Should we not expect those who do evil to speak untruth?  In our modern culture, and especially in the political realm, we can observe many lies.  Let we gain very little by focusing on those lies.  Rather, we ought to focus on truth - that which is good and honorable and trustworthy and kind (Philippians 4:8).  This leads David to thoughts of distrust, "God will never notice."

Finally, by the third verse, David turns to God.  "Arise, Lord!  Lift up your hand, O God."  I sense that David is speaking without the faith and conviction of Psalm 9.  Rather than declaring that God does not forget the helpless, he says, "Do not forget the helpless."  Call the evil-doer to account.  One can almost sense David's focus shifting back and forth between God and the evil-doer.

Still, by verse 4 (or the Chorus), David is back on track.  Finally he declares the truth!  "The Lord is King for ever and ever;  the nations will perish from His land!"  Keep you focus on God this week! 

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Psalm 9

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Many of Jesus' parables (ie The Sower from Matt 13) illustrate that we are to proclaim what God has done in our lives.  Jesus makes this abundantly clear in Acts 1:8 when He states that we will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  In todays Psalm, David does this very thing:  He gives thanks to the Lord and tells of His wonderful deeds.  Since David wrote this as a song, many Bibles organize it by setting each verse as a stanza.  Below, the Psalm is organized within four verses (paragraphs) - four ideas.  Let us begin by reading Psalm 9...

Verse 1:  "I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and rejoice in you;  I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.  My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you.  For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.  You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished."

Verse 2:  "The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.  He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.  The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.  For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted."

Verse 3:  "Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation.  The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.  The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.  But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish."

Verse 4 (chorus, perhaps):  "Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence.  Strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal."

David begins this Psalm by giving thanks to the Lord.  He then exclaims that he will be a witness of the blessings that have been bestowed upon him.  With a spirit of joy and gladness he will sing praises to God.  This is the attitude that we ought to exude as we pray to the Lord.  Be thankful.  Be joyful.  As we remember the blessings that God has already provided our faith will increase.

In verse two, David recalls attributes of God as frontal lobe (thinking) exercise.  This verse reads like a list of God's qualities:  The Lord reigns forever.  The Lord is righteous and just.  The Lord helps the oppressed and the afflicted.  Like David, it is helpful for us to recount the attributes of God as we come face-to-face with Him in prayer.  God is omniscienent.  God is omnipotent.  God is omnipresent.  God is all knowing.  God is all powerful.  God is everywhere. 

By verse three, David turns to the current issue(s) at hand.  See Lord, he cries out, "see how my enemies persecute me."  David seeks God's mercy in whatever crisis he faces.  David understands the nature and character of God.  He knows that his hope lies in the loving and just hand of God.  After presenting his need to God, David expresses his faith in trust:  The wicked go down.  God never forgets the needy.  If our faith is in God, "our hope will never perish."

While I have little musical knowledge and zero talent, I like to think of verse four as the chorus to David's song.  I would love to have heard David and his court sing, "Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triump;  let the nations be judged in your presence.  Strike them with terror, Lord!  Let the nations know they are only mortals.

In our country at this time there is much political and cultural strife.  At times we can be overwhelmed by the news and the (apparent) hopelessness of the situation.  At such times we ought to remember David's Psalm - as a song and a prayer.  Thank the Lord for our many blessings.  Express those thoughts as a witness to others.  Recall the attributes of God as a mental (thinking) exercise.  Then express todays needs to the Lord - believing in faith that He will address your concerns!  Arise Lord!  Evil will not prevail.  You are our HOPE and You do not fail!

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