Psalm 10:12-18 . . . Thou wilt prepare their heart . . .

v.12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

v.13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

v.14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.

v.15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

v.16 The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

v.17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: (Emphasis added.)
v.18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

Matthew Henry has the following comments on these verses:

Psalm 10:12-18

David here, upon the foregoing representation of the inhumanity and impiety of the oppressors, grounds an address to God, wherein observe,

I. What he prays for.

1. That God would himself appear (v. 12): “Arise, O Lord! O God! lift up thy hand, manifest thy presence and providence in the affairs of this lower world. Arise, O Lord! to the confusion of those who say that thou hidest thy face. Manifest thy power, exert it for the maintaining of thy own cause, lift up thy hand to give a fatal blow to these oppressors; let thy everlasting arm be made bare.’’

2. That he would appear for his people: “Forget not the humble, the afflicted, that are poor, that are made poorer, and are poor in spirit. Their oppressors, in their presumption, say that thou hast forgotten them; and they, in their despair, are ready to say the same. Lord, make it to appear that they are both mistaken.’’

3. That he would appear against their persecutors, v. 15.

(1.) That he would disable them from doing any mischief: Break thou the arm of the wicked, take away his power, that the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared, Job 34:30. We read of oppressors whose dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged (Dan. 7:12), that they might have time to repent.

(2.) That he would deal with them for the mischief they had done: “Seek out his wickedness; let that be all brought to light which he thought should for ever lie undiscovered; let that be all brought to account which he thought should for ever go unpunished; bring it out till thou find none, that is, till none of his evil deeds remain unreckoned for, none of his evil designs undefeated, and none of his partisans undestroyed.’’

II. What he pleads for the encouraging of his own faith in these petitions.

1. He pleads the great affronts which these proud oppressors put upon God himself: “Lord, it is thy own cause that we beg thou wouldst appear in; the enemies have made it so, and therefore it is not for thy glory to let them go unpunished’’ (v. 13): Wherefore do the wicked contemn God? He does so; for he says, “Thou wilt not require it; thou wilt never call us to an account for what we do,’’ than which they could not put a greater indignity upon the righteous God. The psalmist here speaks with astonishment,

(1.) At the wickedness of the wicked: “Why do they speak so impiously, why so absurdly?’’ It is a great trouble to good men to think what contempt is cast upon the holy God by the sin of sinners, upon his precepts, his promises, his threatenings, his favours, his judgments; all are despised and made light of. Wherefore do the wicked thus contemn God? It is because they do not know him.

(2.) At the patience and forbearance of God towards them: “Why are they suffered thus to contemn God? Why does he not immediately vindicate himself and take vengeance on them?’’ It is because the day of reckoning is yet to come, when the measure of their iniquity is full.

2. He pleads the notice God took of the impiety and iniquity of these oppressors (v. 14): “Do the persecutors encourage themselves with a groundless fancy that thou wilt never see it? Let the persecuted encourage themselves with a well-grounded faith, not only that thou hast seen it, but that thou doest behold it, even all the mischief that is done by the hands, and all the spite and malice that lurk in the hearts, of these oppressors; it is all known to thee, and observed by thee; nay, not only thou hast seen it and dost behold it, but thou wilt requite it, wilt recompense it into their bosoms, by thy just and avenging hand.’’

3. He pleads the dependence which the oppressed had upon him: “The poor commits himself unto thee, each of them does so, I among the rest. They rely on thee as their patron and protector, they refer themselves to thee as their Judge, in whose determination they acquiesce and at whose disposal they are willing to be. They leave themselves with thee’’ ( so some read it), “not prescribing, but subscribing, to thy wisdom and will. They thus give thee honour as much as their oppressors dishonour thee. They are thy willing subjects, and put themselves under thy protection; therefore protect them.’’

4. He pleads the relation in which God is pleased to stand to us,

(1.) As a great God. He is King for ever and ever, v. 16. And it is the office of a king to administer justice for the restraint and terror of evil-doers and the protection and praise of those that do well. To whom should the injured subjects appeal but to the sovereign? Help, my Lord, O King! Avenge me of my adversary. “Lord, let all that pay homage and tribute to thee as their King have the benefit of thy government and find thee their refuge. Thou art an everlasting King, which no earthly prince is, and therefore canst and wilt, by an eternal judgment, dispense rewards and punishments in an everlasting state, when time shall be no more; and to that judgment the poor refer themselves.’’

(2.) As a good God. He is the helper of the fatherless (v. 14), of those who have no one else to help them and have many to injure them. He has appointed kings to defend the poor and fatherless (Ps. 82:3), and therefore much more will he do so himself; for he has taken it among the titles of his honour to be a Father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5), a helper of the helpless.

5. He pleads the experience which God’s church and people had had of God’s readiness to appear for them.

(1.) He had dispersed and extirpated their enemies (v. 16): “The heathen have perished out of his land; the remainders of the Canaanites, the seven devoted nations, which have long been as thorns in the eyes and goads in the sides of Israel, are now, at length, utterly rooted out; and this is an encouragement to us to hope that God will, in like manner, break the arm of the oppressive Israelites, who were, in some respects, worse than heathens.’’

(2.) He had heard and answered their prayers (v. 17): “Lord, thou hast many a time heard the desire of the humble, and never saidst to a distressed suppliant, Seek in vain. Why may not we hope for the continuance and repetition of the wonders, the favours, which our father told us of?’’

6. He pleads their expectations from God pursuant to their experience of him: “Thou hast heard, therefore thou will cause thy ear to hear, as, Ps. 6:9. Thou art the same, and thy power, and promise, and relation to thy people are the same, and the work and workings of grace are the same in them; why therefore may we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?’’ But observe,

(1.) In what method God hears prayer. He first prepares the heart of his people and then gives them an answer of peace; nor may we expect his gracious answer, but in this way; so that God’s working upon us is the best earnest of his working for us. He prepares the heart for prayer by kindling holy desires, and strengthening our most holy faith, fixing the thoughts and raising the affections, and then he graciously accepts the prayer; he prepares the heart for the mercy itself that is wanting and prayed for, makes us fit to receive it and use it well, and then gives it in to us. The preparation of the heart is from the Lord, and we must seek unto him for it (Prov. 16:1) and take that as a leading favour. (Emphasis added.)
(2.) What he will do in answer to prayer, v. 18.

[1.] He will plead the cause of the persecuted, will judge the fatherless and oppressed, will judge for them, clear up their innocency, restore their comforts, and recompense them for all the loss and damage they have sustained.

[2.] He will put an end to the fury of the persecutors. Hitherto they shall come, but no further; here shall the proud waves of their malice be stayed; an effectual course shall be taken that the man of the earth may no more oppress. See how light the psalmist now makes of the power of that proud persecutor whom he had been describing in this psalm, and how slightly he speaks of him now that he had been considering God’s sovereignty. First, He is but a man of the earth, a man out of the earth (so the word is), sprung out of the earth, and therefore mean, and weak, and hastening to the earth again. Why then should we be afraid of the fury of the oppressor when he is but man that shall die, a son of man that shall be as grass? Isa. 51:12. He that protects us is the Lord of heaven; he that persecutes us is but a man of the earth. Secondly, God has him in a chain, and can easily restrain the remainder of his wrath, so that he cannot do what he would. When God speaks the word Satan shall by his instruments no more deceive (Rev. 20:3), no more oppress.

In singing these verses we must commit religion’s just but injured cause to God, as those that are heartily concerned for its honour and interests, believing that he will, in due time, plead it with jealousy.

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