Unlike most of the previous psalms, this one doesn’t have any extra direction or notes. It just dives right in.
1Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain cursesa and renounces the LORD.
4In the pride of his faceb the wicked does not seek him;c
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14But 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.
15Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
16The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
This one beautifully relays a sentiment that we still grapple with all the time. No one knows why God does the things He does, but I think many people are more baffled by the things He doesn’t do, the times He doesn’t intervene. Even believers have a hard time with the feeling that God isn’t there for them, isn’t helping them, and that He could do more when He doesn’t. We read stories in the Bible of intricate little things being attributed to God that go so wrong in our own lives. We intervene then and not now? Why for that person and not this one? Why are the wicked so prosperous sometimes?
These are timeless questions. I’m not sure if that’s comforting or more distressing, though. The fact is that this generation isn’t alone in feeling that way nor in wondering why it must be this way. We’ll likely go on asking these questions and trying to figure it all out, especially when we feel overwhelmed by our struggles. Still, that doesn’t mean that we were forgotton nor that God is not there in some way, maybe just not the way we want Him to be. Not that these thoughts are comforting either, just what I make of it when I think about it sometimes.