1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 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.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 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.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
How do you respond when someone says, “do you want to hear the good or the bad news?” Do you prefer to get the bad news out of the way so that you can really enjoy the good news? Or do you prefer to hear the good news first, hoping that it will soften the blow of the bad news?
Paul quotes this Psalm in Romans 3. It’s a bit of a “bad news/good news” story. Paul wants his readers to see just how terrible the bad news is about us without Jesus. He wants us to see how wonderful the good news is, when we place our trust in Jesus.
Here’s the bad news: you are the wicked person of Psalm 10. That’s quite a shock isn’t it? When we read a Psalm like this we tend not to identify as the wicked person. We tend to identify as the one suffering at the hands of the wicked person. The arrogance and scheming of verse 2, the pride of verse 4, the lies and threats of verse 7: that’s not me is it? Yes it is. It’s every single one of us.
Paul gives us a lesson in how to read such Psalms in Romans 3:10-18. He paints the picture of our sin by quoting verse 7 of this Psalm, along with several other Old Testament verses. He says that the bad news is that no-one is righteous. Each one of us is the wicked person of Psalm 10. We need to hear that bad news to then receive the good news about Jesus. How can a wicked person become a righteous person? “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
Psalm 10:15 calls for the wicked to be brought to account. That’s awful news for all of us. But the great news is that Jesus has settled that account at the cross. In him the wicked have been declared righteous. And are called to live a new life “in view of this mercy” (Romans 12:1).
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 10? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How does it make you feel that you are the wicked person of Psalm 10? How does it make you feel that by faith in Jesus you are now declared righteous?
Hands: Romans 12 pictures our lives turning from pride to humility, from arrogance to love. What opportunities might today hold to show this humility and love?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that the good news of the cross answers the bad news of my sin. Thank you that by faith in Jesus you have declared a wicked person like me to be righteous. Please help me by your Spirit to better understand and appreciate the depths of your mercy shown to me in Jesus. In view of this mercy, please help me to walk this day in humility and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.