The Word Made Fresh
1Why are you so far away, LORD?
Why do you hide when trouble is afoot?
2The wicked arrogantly persecute the poor.
Catch them in their schemes, LORD!
3The wicked brag about their plans,
and, greedy for gain, they curse and renounce the LORD.
4They are so proud! They think God will never find them out.
Indeed, they don’t really believe there is a God.
5But they seem to always succeed.
Your laws are so lofty they can’t understand them.
They just laugh at those who try to correct them.
6They think they’ll never be challenged,
nor ever have to worry about misfortune.
7They curse, they deceive, they overpower with their speeches,
but beneath everything they say is a plan to do harm.
8They wait, hiding in the villages,
waiting to murder innocent people –
always watching for the helpless,
9lurking in the shadows like a lion hiding in the brush.
They wait and watch and then waylay the poor,
dragging them off to their den.
10They hide, crouching in the shadows,
and the weak and helpless are overcome by them.
11Deep down they even think God is not around,
and that God will never catch on to what they’re doing.
12Arise, LORD! Raise your hand against them, God!
Don’t forget those who are weak and oppressed!
13Why do the wicked refuse to recognize God?
How can they dare to say, “God will never catch us!”
14But I know you do see what’s going on, LORD,
and you will take action.
The helpless have nowhere else to turn.
You have always helped the orphan.
15Break the arms of these evildoers!
Reveal every single wicked thing they’ve ever done.
16For the LORD is our king, and will be forever,
and other nations will be cast out from the LORD’s land.
17LORD, you know the needs of the weak,
and you will listen to their cries and give them strength.
18You will give justice to the orphan and those who are oppressed,
so that no mere mortal will ever terrify them again.
1-4: Sometimes God seems to be remote or aloof. The psalmist sees the poor being taken advantage of, prays for relief and gets no answer. Instead, the wicked are smug in their security. God’s absence reinforces their arrogant belief that God doesn’t exist (wickedness is always evidence of atheism).
5-11: He goes into a long description of how the wicked prey on the poor and imagines their conceit in thinking they are immune to God’s reproof.
12-13: Why does God let such a situation continue? The psalmist pleads with God to intervene.
14-18: In spite of all that has happened, the psalm ends on a positive note. God does see. God will punish the wicked. God will hear the cry of the oppressed and act on their behalf.
But the usual way God acts to rescue the perishing and care for the dying is for God’s faithful people to rise up and be God’s hands and feet and voice and heart in a world that is always in need. Give some thought to what you are doing and what more you can do. There are people in need all around us. Be creative. Like God.