1 Why standest thou afar off, O LORD?
Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
2 In the pride of the wicked the poor is hotly pursued;
Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire,
And the covetous renounceth, yea, contemneth the LORD.
4 The wicked, in the pride of his countenance, saith, He will not require it.
All his thoughts are, There is no God.
5 His ways are firm at all times;
Thy judgements are far above out of his sight:
As for all his adversaries, he puffeth at them.
6 He saith in his heart, I shall not be moved:
To all generations I shall not be in adversity.
7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression:
Under his tongue is mischief and iniquity.
8 He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages:
In the covert places doth he murder the innocent:
His eyes are privily set against the helpless.
9 He lurketh in the covert as a lion in his den:
He lieth in wait to catch the poor:
He doth catch the poor, when he draweth him in his net.
10 He croucheth, he boweth down,
And the helpless fall by his strong ones.
11 He saith in his heart, God hath forgotten:
He hideth his face; he will never see it.
12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand:
Forget not the poor.
13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God,
And say in his heart, Thou wilt not require it?
14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to take it into thy hand:
The helpless committeth himself unto thee;
Thou hast been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break thou the arm of the wicked;
And as for the evil man, seek out his wickedness till thou find none.
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever:
The nations are perished out of his land.
17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the meek:
Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed,
That man which is of the earth may be terrible no more.
Are you oppressed or held back? Do others reach through boundaries to contradict or control your choices? Violations like these are legion and are as old as time. Cain slew Abel because, without faith of his own, he did not gain the favor of the Lord. He slew one with favor in order to contradict or eradicate it. The effort failed, but resulted in one of the great tragedies of humanity and revealed a lot about our selfishness.
This psalm speaks about those who reach past boundaries to change or control other people. The poor are the ones mentioned in this psalm. Yet, what poor? While in Luke 6 Jesus uses the word poor in a general sense, he speaks of the poor in spirit in Matthew 5. There are a lot of different ideas connected with the word “poor”.
In this psalm, the poor are the ones who are pursued and must contend with wicked faces with wicked eyes. The poor are caught by lurking lions and wicked nets. The poor fall in helplessness. What else do you notice in this psalm about the poor? What are they like?
What do you notice about the wicked? The psalm describes more than their nasty tricks; it reveals their inner thoughts and reasonings for their bad behavior. What are their reasons? Do you think they’re good? Can one ever have reasons for wickedness for which God will approve?
Let the beauty – and the terror – of this psalm work on your heart. If you’re poor and helpless, let it be your cry. If you’re doing well, let it be a warning and a monitor for your heart. If you need God’s help – we all do – then let these words grow in your heart’s devotion to God.