Psalm 10:1
Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
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Psalm 10:1. Why standest thou afar off — As one unconcerned in the indignities offered to thy name, and the injuries done to thy people? Why hidest thou thyself — Withdrawest thy presence and aid, and the light of thy countenance which was wont to shine upon us? Why art thou as a person concealing himself, so as not to be found of those who would petition for aid or counsel? In times of trouble? — When we most need thy pity and succour. Do not add affliction to the afflicted. God’s withdrawing his presence and favour from his people is very grievous to them at any time, but particularly in times of trouble. For when outward blessings are afar off, and, as it were, hidden from them, then especially do they want the inward support and comfort which his gracious presence affords. But that we have not this, is generally our own fault. We stand afar off from God by unbelief and love of the world, and then complain, that God stands afar off from us, and does not favour us with manifestations of his love and mercy.

10:1-11 God's withdrawings are very grievous to his people, especially in times of trouble. We stand afar off from God by our unbelief, and then complain that God stands afar off from us. Passionate words against bad men do more hurt than good; if we speak of their badness, let it be to the Lord in prayer; he can make them better. The sinner proudly glories in his power and success. Wicked people will not seek after God, that is, will not call upon him. They live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many objects and devices, but think not of the Lord in any of them; they have no submission to his will, nor aim for his glory. The cause of this is pride. Men think it below them to be religious. They could not break all the laws of justice and goodness toward man, if they had not first shaken off all sense of religion.Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? - That is, What is the reason why thou doest this? The thought upon which this is based is that God might be expected to interpose in a time of trouble, and that His aid might then be looked for. Yet, in this case, He seemed to be an indifferent spectator of the sorrows and afflictions of the wronged and oppressed. This filled the mind of the writer with surprise, and he could not account for it, especially in view of the character of the person or persons who had wronged the author of the psalm. "To stand afar off" in such circumstances, is an attitude of indifference and unconcern - as when others do not come near us if we are sick, or are bereaved, or are in circumstances of poverty and want. That man should do this would have produced no surprise in the mind of the writer; that God should do it was something that filled him with wonder.

Why hidest thou thyself? - As if God concealed himself or kept away. He did not manifest himself, but seemed to let the afflicted man suffer alone.

In times of trouble - Affliction, sorrow, persecution. The particular trouble referred to here was that which was produced by the machinations of the enemy or enemies whose character is described in the following verses. The question, however, is put in a general form, as if it; were strange and unaccountable that God should ever fail to interpose in time of trouble. How often has there been occasion to ask this question in our world!


Ps 10:1-18. The Psalmist mourns God's apparent indifference to his troubles, which are aggravated by the successful malice, blasphemy, pride, deceit, and profanity of the wicked. On the just and discriminating providence of God he relies for the destruction of their false security, and the defense of the needy.

1. These are, of course, figurative terms (compare Ps 7:6; 13:1, &c.).

hidest—Supply "thine eyes" or "face."

1 Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

To the tearful eye of the sufferer the Lord seemed to stand still, as if he calmly looked on, and did not sympathize with his afflicted one. Nay, more, the Lord appeared to be afar off, no longer "a very present help in trouble," but an inaccessible mountain, into which no man would be able to climb. The presence of God is the joy of his people, but any suspicion of his absence is distracting beyond measure. Let us, then, ever remember that the Lord is nigh us. The refiner is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire, and the Son of God is always walking in the midst of the flames when his holy children are cast into them. Yet he that knows the frailty of man will little wonder that when we are sharply exercised, we find it hard to bear the apparent neglect of the Lord when he forbears to work our deliverance.

"Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?" It is not the trouble, but the hiding of our Father's face, which cuts us to the quick. When trial and desertion come together, we are in as perilous a plight as Paul, when his ship fell into a place where two seas met (Acts 27:41). It is but little wonder if we are like the vessel which ran aground, and the fore-part stuck fast, and remained unmovable, while the hinder part was broken by the violence of the waves. When our sun is eclipsed, it is dark indeed. If we need an answer to the question, "Why hidest thou thyself?" it is to be found in the fact that there is a "needs-be," not only for trial, but for heaviness of heart under trial (1 Peter 1:6); but how could this be the case, if the Lord should shine upon us while he is afflicting us? Should the parent comfort his child while he is correcting him, where would be the use of the chastening? A smiling face and a rod are not fit companions. God bares the back that the blow may be felt; for it is only felt affliction which can become blest affliction. If we are carried in the arms of God over every stream, where would be the trial, and where the experience, which trouble is meant to teach us? THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm contains David’s complaint unto God against his malicious enemies, especially those of his own people, whose wicked and deceitful practices he here describes, and then commits his cause to God, and begs his help against them.

The psalmist complaineth of God’s hiding himself, Psalm 10:1; and of the outrage and pride of the wicked, Psalm 10:2-5. The language, Psalm 10:6,7, and malicious practice of the wicked, Psalm 10:8-10, and their denying God’s omniscience, Psalm 10:11. David prayeth for remedy against and punishment upon, the wicked, Psalm 10:12-15; and acknowledgeth God’s mercy in hearing the oppressed, Psalm 10:16-18.

Why standest thou afar off, like one that neither sees, nor hears, nor regards me, nor intendest any help for me?

Thyself, or, thy face, out of Psalm 10:11, which did sometimes shine upon me; or, thine eyes, by comparing this with Proverbs 28:27 Isaiah 1:15.

In times of trouble, when I most need thy pity and succour. Do not add affliction to the afflicted.

Why standest thou afar off, O Lord?.... This psalm begins with a complaint which proceeds on two general heads; the one is with respect to God, his distance from his people, and desertion of them in times of trouble, in this verse; and the other is with respect to the wicked in some following ones. God by his infinite essence and power is everywhere, and is never far off from any of his creatures; and though his glorious presence is in heaven, which, with respect to us on earth, is a land afar off, yet this hinders not but that there is often great nearness between God and his people; and when he stands afar off from them in their apprehensions, it is when he withdraws his gracious presence from them, and defers help and assistance to them, and does not immediately and directly come and visit them: this they cannot bear, they complain; they wonder that, seeing they are the objects of his love, this should be his manner of conduct towards them; they expostulate with him, and inquire for what end and upon what account he should so use them, and most earnestly desire that he would haste and come unto them and help them; see Psalm 22:1;

why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? when God seems to take no notice of his people, does not look upon them, but turns a deaf ear to them, he is said to hide his face, his eyes and ears, from them: and this is sometimes the case of the best of saints, as it has been of Job, David, Heman, and others; and though this is done in a sovereign way by God, who comes and goes when he pleases; for sensible communion with him as much depends upon his sovereign pleasure as the gift of his grace itself does; yet, generally speaking, the denial or withdrawing of his gracious presence is by way of resentment for some disagreeable conduct and behaviour of his people; and is consistent with his everlasting and unchangeable love to them, but is what fills them with grief and sorrow; nor can they: forbear making mournful complaints upon it; and this is aggravated when it is a time of trouble with them, either of soul trouble, by reason of the prevalence of unbelief, and the force of Satan's temptations; or of bodily affliction; though times of trouble here seem to design times of persecution, as may be concluded from the connection of these words with the following; and antichristian times are times of persecution: during the reign of antichrist, in which he is suffered to make war with the saints and overcome them; and during the church's being in the wilderness the space of one thousand two hundred and sixty days or years, God may seem to stand at a distance, and to hide himself from her.

Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in {a} times of trouble?

(a) As soon as we enter into affliction, we think God should help us, but that is not always his due time.

1. Why standest thou afar off] As an indifferent or indolent spectator. Cp. Psalm 38:11 (of fair-weather friends); Psalm 22:1 (of God); Isaiah 59:14; and the corresponding prayer in Psalm 22:11; Psalm 22:19, Psalm 35:22, Psalm 38:21, Psalm 71:12. Conversely, God is said to be ‘near’ when His power is manifested (Psalm 75:1, Psalm 34:18).

why hidest thou thyself] Lit. why mufflest thou?—Thine eyes so that Thou dost not see (Isaiah 1:15); Thine ears so that Thou dost not hear (Lamentations 3:56). Cp. Psalm 55:1.

in times of trouble] Or, of extremity. See note on Psalm 9:9.

1, 2. Stanza of Lamed. Expostulation with Jehovah for neglect of His persecuted people, and statement of the wrongs which call for redress.

Verse 1. - Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? Here is the key-note struck at once. Why does God stand aloof? Why, after delivering his people from their foreign foes, does he not interfere to protect his true people from their domestic oppressors? "Throughout the reign of David," as it has been truly observed, "Palestine was infested by brigands, and disturbed by a factious nobility" ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 191). Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? "Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself," says Isaiah (Isaiah 45:15). And so Job complains, "He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him" (Isaiah 23:9). He seems neither to see nor hear. The psalmist inquires - Why? It can only be answered, "In his wisdom; for his own purposes; because he knows it to be best." Psalm 10:1The Psalm opens with the plaintive inquiry, why Jahve tarries in the deliverance of His oppressed people. It is not a complaining murmuring at the delay that is expressed by the question, but an ardent desire that God may not delay to act as it becomes His nature and His promise. למּה, which belongs to both members of the sentence, has the accent on the ultima, as e.g., before עזבתּני in Psalm 22:2, and before הרעתה in Exodus 5:22, in order that neither of the two gutturals, pointed with a, should be lost to the ear in rapid speaking (vid., on Psalm 3:8, and Luzzatto on Isaiah 11:2, נחה עליו).

(Note: According to the Masora למּה without Dag. is always Milra with the single exception of Job 7:20, and ימּה with Dag. is Milel; but, when the following closely connected word begins with one of the letters אהע it becomes Milra, with five exceptions, viz., Psalm 49:6; 1 Samuel 28:15; 2 Samuel 14:31 (three instances in which the guttural of the second word has the vowel i), and 2 Samuel 2:22, and Jeremiah 15:18. In the Babylonian system of pointing, למה is always written without Dag. and with the accent on the penultimate, vid., Pinsker, Einleitung in das Babylonish-hebrishce Punktationssystem, S. 182-184.)

For according to the primitive pronunciation (even before the Masoretic) it is to be read: lam h Adonaj; so that consequently ה and א are coincident. The poet asks why in the present hopeless condition of affairs (on בצּרה vid., on Psalm 9:10) Jahve stands in the distance (בּרחוק, only here, instead of מרחוק), as an idle spectator, and why does He cover (תּעלּים with orthophonic Dagesh, in order that it may not be pronounced תּעלים), viz., His eyes, so as not to see the desperate condition of His people, or also His ears (Lamentations 3:56) so as not to hear their supplication. For by the insolent treatment of the ungodly the poor burns with fear (Ges., Stier, Hupf.), not vexation (Hengst.). The assault is a πύρωσις, 1 Peter 4:12. The verb דּלק which calls to mind דּלּקת, πυρετός, is perhaps chosen with reference to the heat of feeling under oppression, which is the result of the persecution, of the (בּו) דּלק אחריו of the ungodly. There is no harshness in the transition from the singular to the plural, because עני and רשׁע are individualising designations of two different classes of men. The subject to יתּפשׁוּ is the עניּים, and the subject to חשׁבוּ is the רשׁעים. The futures describe what usually takes place. Those who, apart from this, are afflicted are held ensnared in the crafty and malicious devices which the ungodly have contrived and plotted against them, without being able to disentangle themselves. The punctuation, which places Tarcha by זוּ, mistakes the relative and interprets it: "in the plots there, which they have devised."

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