Psalm 10, "Where is God? : Fighting Impatience with Faithfulness"
I want you to think back with me tonight. We’re going to think back in our minds to a time long long ago. Back before the world was trying to catch Pokemon monsters on their phone. Back before everyone owned a miniature super computer to have in their pocket. Back to the hard days that were marked by this sound... (make dial up sound) That’s right, dial up internet. Oh how long ago that seems in a world where the internet is at the reach of every cell phone, music player and even tv. Children have a greater tie to the internet than even the most tech savy person did 20 years ago. It would sometimes take five minutes or more to connect to the internet. With each new page that you loaded, you took a calculated risk. Will it actually load? Piece by piece the page would load making you almost unaware of the countless minutes flying by just watching it load. And then everything stops. You look around. You stand up from your chair, and you yell, “Who’s on the phone?!” I am, replies a sheepish voice. “I was on the internet!” Oh, sorry. Such patience and persistence we had back then without even realizing it. We’re going to talking about patience among other things tonight as we look at Psalm 10. Please turn there in your Bibles with me if you haven’t already done so.
Before we jump into our text this evening, it will benefit us to look backward for just a moment. Psalms 9 and 10 are very similar. These two Psalms go together. Early Greek and Latin versions actually numbered these Psalms as one. In fact, there is a selah at the end of Psalm 9. Now that’s interesting because a selah is a pause. Now why would you have a pause at the end of a song. We really don’t know if they were written at the same time, but regardless, the two songs were meant to be sung together. And that is why we must refresh our memories from Psalm 9. Pastor Joshua pointed out some general themes from the passage two weeks ago. It starts out with four statements of praise.
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds
I will be glad and exult in you
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”
Everything else that David writes in the Psalm stems from and is to be understood through a lens and heart of worshipping the Lord most high. He looks at other nations, nations that defy and reject the Lord and subsequently face certain defeat and judgement. David also prays for justice and protection rescue from these foes. David’s pleas and proclamations are all words of worship. Worship to the Lord, most high. Selah, pause. Then on to the next part.
Let us read Psalm 10 together now. David is worshipping the Lord God with his heart and soul. When he sees the evil of his nation’s enemies, He pleas for justice, knowing that Israel’s wellbeing is to the glory of the Lord because they are His people. They bear His name and represent Him. But after his pleas, he pauses and takes a turn in his thought. Why? Why? “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Simply understood as ‘Where are you, God? Because I don’t see you. You’re not doing what I expect you to do.’ He just finished pleading for justice to be done among the nations, but he questions where God is because he doesn’t even see justice done among God’s own people. Instead he sees rampant wickedness. Instead of bearing punishment and consequences, these people seem to go unchecked to receive the bounty of whatever they desire. They hotly pursue the poor. They’re hunting down the poor and vulnerable to prey on them. The wicked “boasts of the desires of his soul”. His schemes are so successful that instead of shame, he takes pride in his oppression and boasts of it. They curse God. They renounce God. The breath deceit, cursing, oppression, murder, theft, and they consider themselves immovable. They laugh at God and consider themselves above Him.
Let’s consider another encounter that David had with people of such a heart. Turn with me to 1 Samuel 17. While still just a young man, still a youth, probably no more than sixteen years old, he heard the challenge of Goliath to the armies of Israel. Look at verse 8. [READ 1 Samuel 17:8-11, 26,41-44] For forty days, this man defied the armies which bore the name of the Almighty God. And said armies were gripped with fear. There was no fighting, but this was no mere stalemate. A single man froze an entire army with fear. He didn’t merely defy the army, but the God whom they represented. A single man caused an entire army to forget that they fought for the Lord. This man was controlling an entire army. That’s defeat in itself. Evil was winning. The power of the Lord was nowhere to be seen or remembered in the army of Israel, the Lord’s army. Goliath was winning.
Too often we read this story and scoff in pride at Israel’s folly. It would have been so easy to be overwhelmed by the events and words that surrounded them, to forget God’s promises in light of this giant. It was David himself who defeated Goliath. It was him alone, the unlikeliest of all, who trusted to stand on God’s promises to see the victory through. In spite of that, he now stands before the Goliaths of evil, fellow Israelites, who stand towering in pride and might and defy God. They defy him with every action and desire of their heart. And standing amidst these Goliaths, he finds himself searching, looking around for victory and not seeing his champion anywhere. I’m sure those forty days felt like months and even years to Saul’s army. And David now was questioning and losing hope. He was growing impatient. “where are you Lord?”. Having to ask the question because he is questioning, even if for just a moment, if God really is going to work.
Not much has changed for us either. We don’t need to look very far to see the predominance and prospering of evil. This once was a Christian nation. Although we might still hear the echoes of such a claim, the present reality couldn’t be further from the truth. So few bear the name of Christ. So few understand the gospel, the good news of Christ. His ways are backwards, outrageous, annoying, and frustrating to more and more. An obstacle to lawmakers. A stench of those outdated few Christians who still have too loud of a voice. Our churches, our bodies, grow smaller and smaller, fewer and fewer, weaker and weaker as we become increasingly more appealing to the public and less and less faithful to the truth. Where is God? Why is He so far away? Is He hiding? Where is He working, because it doesn’t seem to be here. We may not question God’s existence, but simply what He’s doing and how we can really be witnessing the horrible things that become more and more commonplace around us.
Look at verse 4. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” There is no God. The cry of Atheism. These are people whom we as Christians often stereotype as angry people who just want to get into debates and not necessarily argue with any true reason and logic or manners. These are dangerous people that we often consider are not worth casting our pearls before swine. But there are many more atheists than the small vocal percentage of our population that identify themselves as such. What do I mean by that? Look again at verse 4. This verse gives the reason that the wicked does not seek God; pride. It’s in pride that he seeks not God. The thought that there is no God is the conclusion of not seeking God, which is the effect of pride. The pride that convinces one that he should seek his own good, not God’s. So whether some identifies them self as atheist, agnostic, or simply no religion at all, it’s all the same in essence. They all deny and defy that God is actually sovereign Lord.
Let us for a moment also look around at the people whom surround us. Every day a baby boomer is retiring while more and more millennials are coming of age and filling up our work places, social circles, stepping into leadership positions, becoming our pastors. This group of people was born between 1980 and 2000. They out number the baby boomers. And they’re not just another person. They’re the children of the baby boomers and Gen X. The front row audience of their successes and failures, challenged now with making their own path. What are they like? Are they better? Did you succeed? That’s not for me to say, but they are different. I won’t even scratch the surface on this topic, but I will point out a few notable traits. They are the antithesis of their predecessors. They observe the lives of their parents and grandparents and choose to be different.
The previous generations operated on the rigid and concrete logic of modern thought. It was the epitome of progress and production. Many a family were sacrificed at the altar of productivity. And the children of those families resent it. They work hard, but they draw limits. They value family. They don’t see things black and white, but gray. They reject the idea that things simply are the way that they are. And if they can’t change things in reality, then they simply change their reality. Rather than believing what they don’t like, they embrace the thought that there is no real truth and that people determine their own truth and are therefore free to believe whatever they want to believe.
These people are walking away from religion in droves. They are very spiritual, but like I said, they don’t feel obligated to follow God in any certain way. They determine the rules for what is necessary and relevant in relating to any god. More and more I speak with people about the gospel with frustration. It’s interesting because you can dispel every question and doubt they had. You can present a near ironclad argument. And yet, they give you a blank stare as if to say, “So what? You believe that, but I don’t” Truth does not win their loyalties. Only their desires do. They’ve made themselves gods. These are exactly the people of verse 4. They don’t admit they’re prideful because they’ve been raised to follow their heart, their desires, do what you want. The only thing that they hold is truth is a lie, and it’s that their happiness and desire is supreme. Pride. Thus, “all his thoughts are ‘There is no God”. These are the people of this world. Our neighbors, our co workers, soon to be our bosses, soon to be our leaders and policy makers. People who reject truth. And that’s scary for us because that is our hope. Truth is what we stand on. It guides us. It convicts us. It encourages us. These people are the Goliaths of our world. They are the people that cause us to ask God “where are you? Why aren’t you working here?”
And so many other things can cause us to ask that question. We labor for years to see no fruit. We fail to overcome the same temptations that have haunted us for years. Too often, its too easy to let our failures distort our reality and choke out all hope.
But here in verse 12, David’s doubts and questions begin to shift. Similar to Psalm 9, they shift to pleas of action and proclamations of hope. In spite of what he sees, David remembers the character of God. The unbeliever says that even if there is a God, that he will not touch me. He leaves me alone. He doesn’t see me and I will get away with the things that I want. Verse 14 “But you do see! But you do see.” I know you do. I know that’s true. It has to be, for you are the judge. You will judge, and you are not unassuming. “For you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands.” David remembers the unshakeable fact that is apparent in all creation that God is sovereign. And because of that “the helpless commits himself into your hands”.
This is so crucial for us. We must “not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” God’s words must always be our standard of truth which establishes and nourishes us. Not too long ago I sat down for coffee with someone. It wasn’t actually coffee, because I rarely drink coffee. But I sat down at this coffee house opposite of a person to discuss a conversation that we had several weeks before. This person had concerns about my actions. They had worries and fears, and as they analyzed the situation and considered our previous interaction, they feared I was not acting in a completely forthright manner. As I pressed into the discussion, it became evident that these questions were not based on my actual words or actions. They were based on subjective opinions and fears, not on truth. If I were being judged on subjective opinions, then this person would never believe anything except that which they wanted to believe, whether it be false hope or needlessly hopeless. We stand on God’s truth and must thus be people who speak truth, live out truth and honesty, and integrity. We hold to whole and naked truth. God is to be trusted. We must therefore be people who can be trusted.
As David remembers God’s character, he remembers what God has done. The last part of verse 14, “You have been the helper of the fatherless.” Not empty pleas that people have made to God. They haven’t just hoped in God to no avail. He recalls that they have hoped in Him and He DID help them. He saw it. It happened. God worked. Not a God far off, but a present help and refuge. There is often no better medicine for our hopelessness than a healthy reminder of the past and countless miracles that God has already performed in our lives that we could never explain.
Davids words have been progressing; building and building into a glorious crescendo here in verse 16. “The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.” He started Psalm 9 with words of praise and worship. Though his enemies are against God, God will prevail and be glorified and David will worship Him. Psalm 9 ends with David asking God to prevail. He asks. Selah, pause. But where are you God. I’m asking you to prevail among the nations, but you’re not even prevailing among your own people. How can this be?! Arise. I know you are sovereign. I have witnessed your sovereignty over all creation. And here in verse 16, we see a powerful declaration that is missing from Psalm 9; a present tense declaration that Yaweh, the great I Am, indeed IS, forever and ever. No man, no matter how gigantic, powerful, or numerous could ever stand outside of God’s dominion.
In verse 17 and 18, we no longer see David’s pleas for God’s action but praises to God of the promises that are true in Him alone, Victory. Victory over sin, death, and the grave. Promises of His perfect righteousness.
Back to thinking about dial up internet. In the moment, it was annoying, but we obviously made due. It’s a funny thing to joke about now because of how far our technology has progressed from there. If we had to use that technology now, many of us would become so frustrated that we would simply walk away from the computer. We did not do so back then because we knew that it worked. No matter ho many times the page didn’t load or got interrupted, we stayed at that desk in persistence to see it through.
No matter what area we may be struggling with impatience and hopelessness in, we must continue to stand on God’s truth. We must surrender to it, submerge ourselves in it, and be faithful to God as He is the one who will be faithful to deliver us. We must remind ourselves, as David did, of God’s previous work, bringing our thoughts and emotions in line with God’s truth. I know I’m preaching to the choir tonight, but you are surrounded by people who don’t know and understand this, but they are watching you. And though God may seem far off, which is always a lie, He is always watching and working.