Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand!
Religion that begins and ends with the mind alone is in fact no religion, but an empty mockery; for true religion comes to full flower in the trials and temptations that beset a man, and gives him victory over them all. This much we may certainly learn from our psalm today, which is very closely connected with the preceding, and bears this relationship to it, that it takes up the same precious themes and truths, and most heartily employs them in the midst of a terrible trial, which threatens to overwhelm the faith and hope of the godly.
The Lord is still king forever and ever (vs. 16), even as David had rejoiced to declare before; he still hears the afflicted and gives them justice against their enemies (vss. 17-18); and David still calls upon God to arise and destroy the wicked (vss. 12, 15). In all these things, he is only repeating and affirming the truth of what he had taught before, in Psalm Nine.
But how much more difficult had it become! As long as there is no fierce opposition, it is easy to believe that the Lord Christ will reign forevermore upon the throne, and that God will put all things beneath his feet, and raise up all those who trust in him to reign with him forever. But when the storms of cruel rage and enmity arise, then what tune will you sing? Will you still rejoice in the God of your salvation? You may be sure that if your religion is genuine, and your faith and hope are in God alone, then the verity of your profession will be vindicated and the purity of your heart will be refined in the furnace of affliction, even as pure gold is made only purer by the action of the flame, which can burn away dross and chaff, but harm not a whit of the precious substance itself.
What a sinkhole of depravity has man become! Tell me, you who complain of your trials as if some strange thing were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12), how is it that you expect those who love evil not to hate the light (John 3:19-20)? Have you not considered what man has made of himself? You should not be surprised when you are hated, slandered, and struck down, but rather, you should be amazed that God's restraining grace has kept you from persecutions a thousand times worse!
Natural man is arrogant and selfish, he constantly schemes to tread down the poor that he might grow fat on their substance, he lifts himself up in the mad folly of pride, and is filled with such amazing blindness, due to the hardness of his heart (Eph. 4:18), that he never even considers the God who judges all the world, nor trembles at the wrath to come. He is mad enough to think that he will never be moved, but that the high position he has built for himself on blood and betrayal will be his forever. He thinks that God has forgotten him because judgment is delayed; he wrests God's mercy to his own destruction, and heaps up wrath as high as he can pile it, treasuring up for himself in the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-5; James 5:1-3). All this he does against the helpless, using his cruel, lying, gossiping tongue to tear down and his hands of blood to maim and steal and kill, simply for his own self-interest, so that he might grow fat, and give himself airs of superiority â€“ and that against those who are like him, and whom he has no reason to despise at all! So what wonder is it, when you add to this perverse nature an instinct of self-deception and self-preservation, which would shrink away from the light, and hide in shame behind fig leaves and darkness, if such as this should rage all the more furiously against anyone who, by good works and patience, should expose the wickedness of the world of depravity (1 Pet. 2:12; Phil. 1:27-28), and put the proof to the claims of Christianity, that God will someday judge the world and deliver his own (2 Thes. 1:4-10)?
If all these things happen to come upon you, O believer (and it is no wonder if they do), then when the question comes leaping into your mind, â€œWhy, O Yahweh, do you stand afar off?â€ (vs. 1), remember that God is indeed the Helper of the fatherless (vs. 14). He will judge the world, and no man can answer back to him, or plead and bargain. The wicked will be destroyed, and that without remedy, when God comes to deliver his own.
And yet do you still tremble? Well, then; I will give you one more assurance, and it will be the greatest of all. If nothing else will calm your troubled soul, then still will you find this precious buttress of faith able to quiet any fear and vanquish any doubt. When did the wicked ever lurk to seize the poor like when they lay in ambush to cast their nets over him who became poor for our sakes (vs. 9; 2 Cor. 8:9)? But now (O rock of assurance!), Christ is risen from the dead. He has overcome all their traps and snares and lies and entanglements, he has conquered their father the devil, and now he must reign until even death itself has been put under his feet (1 Cor. 15:25-26). If he has gone to such great troubles to save you from your wickedness, when you were as all the rest, hateful and hating one another (Titus 3:3), then what will he not save you from, O small of faith? Will you falter at each little trial? No, but rise up in faith and cry out to the Lord of all, â€œArise, O Yahweh! O God, lift up your hand! Do not forget the afflictedâ€ (vs. 12).
And when you do so, dear Christian, you may put your heart at rest; for he has not forgotten you yet, nor will he ever, world without end.