Perhaps part of the wide-felt connection to the Psalms is that sometimes the songwriter often says what we are afraid of saying. That his divinely inspired lyrics often put into words what we find ourselves thinking but not comfortable openly articulating. Such is the case, for me at least, as I read the tenth Psalm this morning.
Why, O LORD, do You stand afar off?
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
(Psalm 10:1 ESV)
Times of trouble. Experiences of distress. Occasions of feeling in dire straits. Why, O LORD, pens the songwriter, why do You seem to conceal Yourself in those times? Why, when I’m thinking I need You the most, do You seem so distant? Where are You, when I need You?!?
And the psalmist looks beyond whatever his particular “time of trouble” and observes that, in general, God’s absence is also perceived when one focuses on the extent of prevailing wickedness that goes seemingly unchecked in the world.
Arrogant people hotly pursuing the poor (v.2). Greedy people wickedly boasting of their gain as they curse and renounce God (v.3). Defiant before heaven, they prey on the helpless of the earth as they mock the Almighty in their heart saying, “God has forgotten, He has hidden His face, He will never see it” (vv. 6-11). In their pride, so many have no desire to even entertain God’s existence, “all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God'” (v. 4).
Where are you LORD? Why do you veil Your eyes at what’s going on in this world? What’s more, where are You when I need You?
The questions resonate. They have a familiar ring to them. I’m pickin’ up what the psalmist is laying down!
But the other connection with the psalms is that they also articulate what we know to be true despite what we may feel.
But You do see, for You note mischief and vexation, that You may take it into Your hands; to You the helpless commits himself; You have been the helper of the fatherless. . . . The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from His land. O LORD, You hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear . . .
(Psalm 10:14, 16-17 ESV)
Though God may seem to have turned a blind eye, He hasn’t. He does see.
Though it may feel like God is content to remain behind a curtain in the wings, His ear is inclined to the drama that plays out on life’s stage. He hears the cry. He is intimately familiar with the circumstance. And He is actively engaged, though often in ways we are unaware of.
He is the King and one day He will reign on earth and bring justice to the fatherless and oppressed “so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more” (v. 18).
Until then, He patiently and graciously woos and waits for men and women, dead in their trespass and sin, to respond to the good news that Jesus is ready, willing, and able to save. And for those who have trusted in Him, He establishes His rule and reign in their hearts. Though He may seem far off, He reminds us of His abiding presence and strengthens the heart of the afflicted.
While at times He may seem to be a bit standoffish . . . though it may feel like He’s playing hide-and-seek with us . . . His Spirit testifies with our Spirit, sometimes through songs like this song, that we have a faithful High Priest who hears our cry and leads us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).
To Him be all blessing and honor and glory forever and ever!