Prayer against the Enemy of the Church.
Luther writes in his summary of this psalm: “This is a psalm of prayer which complains about the arch-enemy of the kingdom of Christ, that is, Antichrist, who for the sake of his covetousness and pomp troubles Christendom with both might and guile; he wields both the sword of worldly tyranny over the body and the net of false doctrine over the souls.”
DAVID COMPLAINS OF THE OUTRAGE OF THE WICKED. — V. 1. Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord? apparently indifferent to the oppression of His people. Why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble? both His eyes and His ears being covered, so that He seems to be altogether unconcerned about the misery which comes upon His believers. V. 2. The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor, rather, “Through the pride of the wicked the afflicted is burning,” consumed with the heat of anxiety. Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined, that is, the believers are taken and harmed by reason of the plots devised by the wicked. There is oppression on every hand and apparently no deliverance for the godly. V. 3. For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, of the fact that he succeeds in his evil plans, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth, that is, he renounces and despises Jehovah, while he praises the defrauder, who makes his gains by craft or force. V. 4. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, the fact that he literally carries his nose high, in haughty disdain and contempt of God, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts. Those are his thoughts, that is the way he has figured it out for himself: God does not punish; there is no God! He believes that he can go right ahead with his pride .and his trespasses; he tries to make himself believe that there will be no day of reckoning. V. 5. His ways are always grievous, the manner in which he acts seems to be safe against punishment at all times; Thy judgments are far above out of his sight, out of the range of his vision; wherefore, in the opinion of the wicked, they do not exist. As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them, in an act of sneering contempt, his arrogance causing him to despise both God and men. V. 6. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved, he is filled with unlimited pride and security; for I shall never be in adversity, one generation after the other in his family being safe against misfortune, in his opinion, his prosperity, his wealth and honor, safe to far distant times. V. 7. His mouth is full of cursing, blasphemous reviling and execration, and deceit and fraud, by which he oppresses the godly; under his tongue is mischief and vanity, violence for others and the essence of meanness for himself. V. 8. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages, in his nomad encampment, where he could easily waylay unsuspecting travelers; in the secret places, where he believes himself safe from observation, doth he murder the innocent, him who has in no way provoked him, out of mere lust for killing; his eyes are privily set against the poor, watching and planning to bring harm upon the godly sufferer. V. 9. He lieth in wait secretly, hidden in ambush, as a lion in his den, in the thicket where he has his lair; he lieth in wait to catch the poor, like a hunter taking wild animals in his net; he doth catch the poor, the righteous sufferer, when he draweth him into his net. V. 10. He croucheth, the description again being that of a beast of prey, and humbleth himself, ducking low, getting ready for the sudden spring, that the poor may fall by his strong ones, his wicked helpers, who also rejoice in iniquity. V. 11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten; He hideth His face; He will never see it. This blasphemous thought is the consolation of the wicked; by it they lull themselves into a false security, stifling the voice of their conscience in order to ply their wicked trade without hindrance.
DAVID MAKES A PLEA FOR SPEEDY DELIVERANCE. — V. 12. Arise, O Lord, David’s usual powerful and importunate appeal to Jehovah, the true God; O God, lift up Thine hand, namely, for the purpose of punishing the wicked; forget not the humble, forsaking them, giving them up to the cruelty of the wicked. V. 13. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? How is it possible that God should permit such a blasphemous challenge of His government? He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it, not call the wicked to account for his every misdeed. V. 14. Thou hast seen it, this being set against the false security of the wicked; for Thou beholdest mischief and spite, all the grief which the ungodly lays upon the righteous, to requite it with Thy hand, with the full punishment which it deserves. The poor committeth himself unto Thee, trusting in God’s righteous judgment; Thou art the Helper of the fatherless, those without natural protectors to defend them. v. 15. Break Thou the arm of the wicked, definitely putting a stop to his wicked acts, and the evil man; seek out his wickedness till Thou find none, the result being such a reverent awe of God that all meanness would be removed and disappear without leaving a trace. V. 16. The Lord is King forever and ever, He is not dethroned despite all the attacks of the enemies; the heathen are perished out of His land, cut off entirely, annihilated, no remnant remaining. This being the poet’s assurance, he adds his last plea. V. 17. Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble, their longing for help; Thou wilt prepare their heart, establishing it by firm confidence in Him; Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear, to attend closely to their cry, v. 18. to judge the fatherless and the oppressed, executing judgment upon their oppressors, that the man of the earth, the haughty wicked adversary, may no more oppress, by terrifying the believers. That is the consolation of the children of God at all times, that He will finally vindicate His might and execute judgment upon all enemies of His people.