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A Devo From Scot - Psalm 10

Dear Church,

Suffering makes God appear to be absent. While this modern phrasing was likely made prominent by Simone Weil, a French Christian mystic, this sad truth long predates her. It appears clearly in the Old and New Testament, most notably in the Psalms, and especially in Psalm 10 to which we turn today. It opens with these questions, “Why do You stand far off, O LORD? Why do you hide Yourself in times of trouble?” You see, suffering makes God appear to be absent.

Please take some time to read Psalm 10 for yourself. Don’t let that heavy introduction keep you from personal engagement of this rich prayer-song.

Now that you’ve read it, you know that Psalm 10 is more about the human cause of suffering than the pain itself. The psalmist focuses on “the wicked” that cause the experienced “affliction.” This helps us recall that just like love needs an object, so too the experience of suffering incessantly searches for a cause. Who did this? Who is to blame? This ancient song is preoccupied with these questions, much like our modern culture seems to be.

But notice the pivotal differences in Psalm 10 from much of what we see in news cycles. The wicked are described and quoted, at length. The mottled caricature says “There is no god… I will not be moved… God has forgotten… He will never see [what I do].” It’s easy to see the hubris and the contradictions. This is important to the flow and movement of the Psalm because it connects with our human experience of affliction, suffering, persecution and conflict. Yet even in the midst of this, the psalmist's pleas are directed towards God. He does not take matters into his own hands. All of his requested actions are filtered through the mind, heart and hands of God. So instead of seeking personal vengeance, the psalmist prays to God and asks Him to “break the arm of the wicked and the evildoer” (verse 15). While this sounds harsh, it is powerfully instructive.

A living faith regularly trusts God to translate the base emotions of experience. It is foolish to skip God’s perfect and holy filtering. You must do this, dear Christian. This is one of the chief truths, examples and applications of psalms like Psalm 10. In the midst of affliction, asking the wrong question can quickly lead your heart down a dark path. Down there God will seem even more absent. But instead we are taught to approach God directly, boldly, even rawly (yes, it’s a word). Don’t miss this point.

“Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand.” Please act on my behalf, he says. Let me see You move. “Do not forget the afflicted.” God’s inaction feels like neglect. But remember, absence is not the same as distance. As a believer, the former is never true, and the latter is often a specter.

God is always active my friend - because even His inactivity is actively directed toward you, for your good, for His purposes in your life. His stayed hand is just as much a gift as the swinging of His sickle.

"O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate…”

He will.

I love you church,
Scot
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