Humbled and Exalted (Psalm 10)
Humbled and Exalted
Do you ever find yourself wanting to question God? If so, you are in good company; the psalmists do the same:
Why doesn’t God do something about the prosperity of the wicked?
Why doesn’t God do something about the misery of the afflicted?
This question is discussed in Psalms: 13; 27; 30; 44; 73; 88; as well as in Job 13 (you might say the whole book of Job deals with this question) and Jeremiah 14.
Sometimes it bothers us that God doesn’t do more. How many of you have asked herself: “Why doesn’t God just send Jesus back already?” Well, we don’t know expect that God wants as many people to be saved as possible.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 23:12 - “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
I have just finished reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago, about the Communist concentration camps in Russia. The barbarity with which men can treat other human beings can be astounding. And not just physical torture either… within the last 100 years, millions have lost their homes, jobs, possessions, families, and even their lives because of the ruthless actions of wicked people. And it’s not necessarily people who claim to be Christians who are persecuted. I’m speaking in broader, more generic terms - that often good people, who just want to live their lives in peace, are abused by people in power.
Through out the OT and even into the NT, God has expressed a special concern for widows, orphans, and the helpless. But often times, those who are righteous simply do not feel God’s presence…
QUESTIONING GOD 10:1:
Here, the psalmists asks God why He stands at a distance - afar off? Why does He hide Himself from the righteous, the afflicted, the persecuted, during times of trouble?
Listen to the words of Gideon in Judges 6:13: “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
If I am a child of God, a Christian, then why do bad things happen to me? And we still allow our hearts to believe that God is punishing us for something we have done. And that’s just not a biblical belief.
In Psalm 10, the psalmist is being threatened by his enemies, his adversaries. We might not be persecuted today, in our country, like this, but Satan is certainly our adversary and he attacks us in lots of different ways to get us to doubt the love of God, the wisdom of God, or the power of God.
REJECTING GOD 10:2-11:
What one believes determines how one lives.
There is no God - 10:2-4:
When a man does not believe there is a God, he becomes his own god. Satan’s first temptation, of Adam and Eve, related to this point: “You will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). You will know all you need to know and you won’t have to listen to God, much less obey God. Because if you are a god, then you don’t have to obey anyone else.
Some people live to simply please themselves. They are after all they can get for themselves and could not care less how their drive impacts other people.
Philippians 3:18-21 - “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” For the apostle Paul, the motivation for staying faithful in the midst of persecution was the second coming of Christ.
“I shall not be moved” - 10:5-8:
10:5-6: This attitude results from an ignorance of the laws of God. People are ignorant of the word of God and choose to be ignorant. They do not realize that their sins will find them out: Numbers 32:23. They do not grasp the fact that the one who sows to the flesh will, from the flesh, reap destruction (Gal. 6:8).
Solomon reminds us that because God does not punish immediately, the wicked use this as a motivation to continue in their wickedness: “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” (Ecc. 8:11).
10:7-8: Some people lie and deceive, making oaths that they have no intention of keeping. And oftentimes, they really do escape the penalties of man’s laws. Like someone who enjoys eating tasty foods, these wicked love with curses and deceit and oppression and mischief and wickedness.
They also take advantage of the innocent and the unfortunate. Paul will quote verse 7 in Romans 3:14.
Now, the civil government exists to keep peace in society and to make life as easy as possible for the godly (1 Tim. 2:1-2; Rom. 13:4). However, the civil government is often filled with the wicked who are not concerned with peace and justice but with their own wallet.
10:9-11: “God doesn’t see me.” If you believe that God is limited in His presence, that He is a god of the forests or a god of the sea, then you can believe that God does not see what you do. So, these wicked lie in wait, in hiding, and they prey on helpless people who can’t defend themselves. They don’t believe men will catch up with them and since they don’t believe in God, they don’t think they will have to answer to Him either.
TRUSTING GOD - 10:12-18:
10:12-13: In verse 11, the psalmist uses one name for God (El); in verse 12, he uses two more: Elohim and Jehovah. “Arise O Lord God” was a call from Israel for God to lead them through the wilderness of Sinai. Here, the psalmist takes it over and uses it for his own walk with God. Let God lead the way and let God remember the afflicted, the ones who were “hotly pursued” by the wicked (ver. 2).
In verse 13, the psalmist asks the rhetorical question: “Why do the wicked spurn God?” And he answers that question: “Because he has deceived himself into believing that God will not punish his sins.” The psalmist knows this; he reminds himself of this fact. We need to remember that wickedness will be punished, even if it is not punished in this life.
10:14: God knows what is happening on earth. He has seen their mischief. He has seen their “vexation.” God will bring about justice.
Jesus asked the question: “will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?” (Luke 18:7). Then He answers His own question: “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
How do we know that God will bring about justice for the afflicted? Because He has a history of helping the orphans (ver. 14). That’s why the righteous commit themselves to Him.
10:15-16: Trust God. In dramatic terms, the psalmist points out that God’s wrath will be directed against those who do evil: He will break the arm of the wicked and the evil doer. God will seek out the wickedness of the wicked and He will punish it until He no longer finds any. God will be thorough in His punishments.
Verse 16 is really the theological center of the psalm and it is a point that we need to take into our hearts.
How will God respond? Notice how the palmist answers the questions he has posed earlier:
God sees what is going on (ver. 14). Does God see what the wicked are doing? The wicked think not; we know God does. He is omniscient. That’s why we can “cast all our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).
God judges sin (ver. 15). Can the wicked sin without getting caught? Absolutely not. Of course, evil is not always judged in this life. Joseph Stalin, who was responsible for up to 20 million deaths in those concentration camps, had a massive stroke March 1, 1953 at the age of 73 and lived until March 5th. Never was judged on earth for what he did.
Not only before VE-Day, when the Allies broke through and invaded Germany, Adolph Hitler shot himself while his mistress, Eva Braun, took cyanide. No trial. No judgment. Just dead bodies.
Francisco Franco, a Spanish dictator, developed Parkinson’s disease that inhibited his movement. He lapsed into a coma on October 30, 1975 and died nearly a month later at the age of 82.
Communist dictator Mao Zedong also lived to be 82 and may have developed Lou Gehrig’s disease. He had a heart attack on September 2, 1976 and went into a coma September 7th and died on the 9th. Never judged, never condemned on earth for what he did. I could go on and on… Francois Duvalier of Haiti; Kim Il-sung of North Korea; Augusto Pinochet of Chile (never convicted of his crimes against humanity); Idi Amin of Uganda.
People get away with sins and crimes on this earth on a regular basis. But they cannot escape the all-seeing eye of God and they will be punished by God for their sins. This is one of the reasons why there needs to be a final judgment.
God is king (ver. 16). God does exist and He is king - He reigns over all. The Israelites sang, as they were leaving Egypt after the Red Sea: “The Lord shall reign forever and ever” (Exo. 15:18). Indeed. Jesus said He now has “all authority in heaven and on earth.”
God defends His people (ver. 17-18). God will vindicate (“exalt”) the humble. The wicked boasted that they could not be moved (ver. 6), but God will move them. Followers of Jehovah God, through Jesus Christ, will be vindicated and we will be exalted. The self-confident, the arrogant will have no future with the Lord.
Take home message: The Lord hears the desires of the humble.