James Nisbet Commentary - Psalms 10:17 - 10:18

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James Nisbet Commentary - Psalms 10:17 - 10:18

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the poor: Thou preparest their heart, and thine ear bearkeneth thereto; to help the fatberless and poor unto their right: that the man of the earth be no more eralted against them.’

Psa_10:17-18 (Prayer Book Version)

The Psalter contains two main ideas: the defeat of God’s enemies, yet the suffering of God’s people.

I. When we sing the Psalms, we triumph in the Church’s exultation over the might of this world.—(We find triumph expressed in Psalms 26, Psalms 47, Psalms 72, etc.)

II. Notice the other aspect of the Christian kingdom, which is much more frequently brought before us in the Psalms: the suffering, troublous state which in this world naturally befalls an empire so large, so aggressive, so engrossing, so stately and commanding, yet so destitute of weapons of earth. It provokes persecution at all times, both from its claims and from its weakness. (1) Thus, then, we cry out to God against our enemies (Psa_27:2-3; Psa_27:13, etc.). (2) We lay before Almighty God our desolations (Psa_44:12-13). (3) We complain of our captivity (Psa_14:7). (4) The Psalms say much concerning the poor and needy, and God’s protecting them against bad men (Psa_9:9-19). (5) The Psalms speak especially of the righteous being in trouble, plead for them, and wait for their deliverance (Psa_34:17, etc.).

III. Now here it is easy to make this objection: we are not in persecution; for us to use the language of the Psalms is unreal.—But many answers may be made to this objection, (1) It is not necessary that all parts of the Church should be in persecution at once either to fulfil the Scripture statements or to justify the use of the Psalms. If we are members of the body of Christ we must feel for the rest, in whatever part of the world they are, when they are persecuted, and must remember them in our prayers. (2) In spite of her prosperity for the moment, even in this country the Church of Christ is in peril. Is there no battle between the Church and the world in this country, and no malevolence, scorn, unbelief, calumny, no materials of open persecution, though persecution, through God’s mercy, as yet be away? (3) If we are not altogether in a position to use the words of the Psalter, is it not possible that so far we really do lack a note of the Church? Is there not a fear lest the world be friends with us because we are friends with the world? Let us but put off the love of the world, and follow the precepts of our Lord and His apostles, and then see in a little while where we should all find ourselves, and what would be the condition of the Church.


(1) ‘This psalm is treated by the LXX. as a continuation of the last, both being given together as one psalm. One fundamental difference between the two psalms, or two parts of one psalm (if we so take it), is that the enemies of Psalms 9. are “heathen,” or those outside the Kingdom of God, whereas in Psalms 10. “apostates and persecutors of his own nation, under the name of ‘the wicked’ stand in the foreground.” ’

(2) ‘Remember that before you ever felt it, others have realised the anguish of being apparently left to the mercy of such when God seems to stand afar off and hide Himself, and when there appears no hope of escape; but remember that God has seen it. All the mischief and spite, all the pride and godlessness, are beheld, and will be taken in hand. No helpless soul can commit itself to God without finding Him a very present help; no meek soul will breathe its desire, but that He will cause His ear to hear. The Lord is King for ever and ever.’