By Henry Law
The main feature in this psalm is the foul portraiture of evil. Prayer follows in full confidence that God will arise and judge. May the Spirit raise hatred of evil in our hearts!
1. "Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?"
There is much weakness in the strongest faith. It is prone to sink when billows swell and storms descend. Trials assume desertion's form. Darkness seems to imply that God cannot be near. The sun eclipsed seems gone forever. But faith in weakest hours still prays, and meekly questions, 'Why is it so?'
2. "The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined."
The Spirit proceeds to draw a full-blown portrait of sin. The mask is withdrawn. The monster is dragged forth to light. The hideous features are revealed. The Spirit's pen cannot exaggerate. The dark colors are not too dark. The deep ingredient of the wicked heart is pride. This scorns the humble followers of the Lamb, and seeks to trample them beneath insulting feet. But often do oppressive schemes recoil, and plots involve self-ruin.
3. "For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, and blesses the covetous, whom the Lord abhors."
In arrogance the wicked boasts that his desires shall prosper. And who can hinder him? He loves the hoarders of ill-gotten gains. In spite of God's abhorrence, they are his delight.
4. "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts."
His haughty attitude vaunts independence. He does not stoop to study God's will. He is no suppliant at wisdom's gate. God is not the substance of each thought, but rather rashness says, "There is no God."
5. "Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see your punishment awaiting them. They pour scorn on all their enemies."
His every step insults both God and man. His dim eye grovels on the ground. It has no power to pierce the heavens and read God's will. His insolence condemns his foes.
6, 7. "He has said in his heart, I shall not be moved, for I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud; under his tongue is mischief and vanity."
In self-complacency he thinks prosperity must last forever, and evil days can never come. He cannot speak without floods of evil issuing forth. His words are open curses and insidious falsehoods.
8. "They lurk in dark alleys, murdering the innocent who pass by. They are always searching for some helpless victim."
Evil words lead on to evil deeds. He craftily devises murderous acts. He narrowly observes the poor and feeble, thirsting for their blood.
9, 10. "Like lions they crouch silently, waiting to pounce on the helpless. Like hunters they capture their victims and drag them away in nets. The helpless are overwhelmed and collapse; they fall beneath the strength of the wicked."
Sometimes as a beast of prey he crouches for a desperate spring; sometimes as a crafty huntsman he spreads entangling nets. By every art he seeks to execute his hateful plots.
11. "He has said in his heart, God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see it."
False thoughts of God deceive him. Impunity persuades him that God disregards. He flatters himself that omniscience does not observe him.
12. "Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand; do not forget the humble."
These sights of sin impel believers to the mercy-seat. They turn away. They look above. They seek their God. They tell out their fears. They ask His help. They commit the persecuted to His care. They stir Him up to have them in remembrance.
13, 14, 15. "Why do the wicked condemn God? He has said in his heart, You will not require it. You have seen it; for You behold mischief and spite, to requite it with Your hand; the poor commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; seek out his wickedness, until You find none."
How vain the atheistic thought that God sits still in unconcern! From His high throne He ponders all the ways of men. In right time He will avenge His honor. The helpless shall indeed be helped; the boastful arm of wickedness shall be shattered. All evil shall be dragged to light; no sin shall go unpunished.
16. "The Lord is King forever and ever; the heathen have perished out of His land."
Glorious light shines forth. The throne of God is set. He rules, He reigns, in majesty supreme forever. His enemies are all destroyed. Throughout the blissful realm no trace of evil can be found. His happy subjects now lift up the head. One shout is heard, Glory, glory to our God!
17, 18. "Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart, You will cause Your ear to hear; to judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress."
Good Lord, increase our faith in the power and prevalence of prayer! The eternal world will show that supplication never desired in vain. Grace prompts the desire, inspires the words, prepares the heart, and gives the full reply. When God comes forth to answer and to help, what can feeble flesh avail! It perishes forever. From this view of the wickedness of the wicked, their righteous doom, the glories of the coming kingdom, let us bless Him who has delivered us from the wrath to come, and called us to His kingdom and glory!