"Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"This same question written by an anonymous psalmist 3,000 years ago is posed by many today. How many times, after tragedy strikes somewhere on the globe, do we see this question being asked by skeptics? How many times has Larry King invited a well-known preacher or evangelist on his show to "explain themselves for what their God allowed"? Society asks, "Where was God when _________ happened? If God is good, why did he allow _________ to happen?" These are important questions that deserve answers, but unfortunately, many of those who are asking them do so not out of a genuine desire to understand God's ways, but with a defiant, unbelieving attitude that is eager to use the tragedy as further excuse for them to reject the Almighty God. In essence, they are declaring, "If God existed, he would not have allowed ________ to happen".
All people throughout history have questioned God's purposes in allowing bad things to happen to "good" people (even though Romans 3 makes it clear that no one is good), and why he allows injustice. Believers and unbelievers alike ask this same question, but as we have seen, the motive behind the question is quite different. Believers, like the psalmist, ask the question out of a desire to see the establishment of God's justice on the earth, in faith that He can and will vindicate the oppressed. Non-believers ask the question out of defiant unbelief, demanding that God prove himself to them in the manner of their choosing. As we see in Psalm 10, the righteous person trusts in God's sovereignty over all situations.
I wrote up a brief outline of the Psalm to get a better idea of the psalmist's thought process:
I. Question posed (v. 1)
II. Observations made (vv. 2-11)
III. Plea for justice (vv. 12-15)
IV. Prediction of God's faithfulness (vv. 16-18)
I encourage you to read this psalm prayerfully, and note the psalmist's heart attitude toward God's actions in the midst of trouble. Take comfort in the closing verses,
"The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."