“[The wicked one] waits in ambush near the settlements . . . His eyes are watching for an unfortunate victim. He waits in his hiding place like a lion in its lair. He waits to seize the helpless one. . . . The victim is crushed and brought down.” (Psalm 10:8-10)
I don’t really know anyone like this. Even of the sleazy mechanic who billed me for a new carburetor on my Tesla I wouldn’t go that far.
On and on the psalmist goes about how the wicked one shakes you like a dog with a rat. I begin to see why Rosie said when she first read the psalms as a young girl, “Man, this guy sure whines a lot!” Who in the world is he talking about?
They picked on him a lot back in the day, I suppose, but today, while the verse might not find fulfillment in your neighbor who plays his music too loud, you could apply it to machinations of humans, be they political parties, governments, or powers transcending governments who push schemes, sometimes will full knowledge they are making you trouble, doing so for their idea of the ‘greater good.’ That scenario fits the tone of the psalm. It’s not for nothing that the Bible likens governments to ‘the heavens.’ They drench you one moment, scorch you the next, freeze you after that, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.
Verses like #4 suggest it’s all the work of the atheists:
“In his haughtiness, the wicked man makes no investigation; All his thoughts are: “There is no God.’”
Sometimes it is that way but it is not necessarily so. Other verses allow that they may acknowledge there’s a God but count him as a non-factor.
“He says in his heart: “God has forgotten. He has turned away his face. He never notices.” (vs 11)
Besides, here’s a commentator (in connection with ‘the senseless one who says in his heart ‘there is no Jehovah’) who says there were no atheists back then, at least not enough to single out as a class: “It never occurred to any writer of the OT [Hebrew Scriptures] to prove or argue the existence of God. . . .It is not according to the spirit of the ancient world in general to deny the existence of God, or to use arguments to prove it. The belief was one natural to the human mind and common to all men.” Dr. James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible.
It matters little to say there is a God. What matters is what attributes you assign to him. As much as we think it dated that ancient peoples worship different gods, and say ‘Isn’t there just one God?’ if we hold to radically different views of God, is it not in effect different gods that we envision? Just like you mention Howie Horseradish and I say ‘I know that guy!’ But when further discussion reveals that the attributes and physical qualities don’t line up, I say, ‘Oh, I guess I don’t know him after all. We’re speaking of two persons who happen to share the same name.’
I’ll take God with the attributes he assigns himself. Who are these characters that assign him whatever attributes they find convenient? I’ll take the overall lesson of the psalm. They’re cocky as all get-out but God will eventually set matters straight. It’s an underlying theme of the Bible. Humans insist upon self-rule (the underlying Genesis message of knowing ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ God says, ‘Don’t try it—you’ll mess it all up.’ They do so anyway. God says, ‘Alright, I allot you such-and-such an amount of time to make good on your claim. When the time is up, we’ll see what kind of a world you’ve made.’
“[The wicked one] says in his heart: ‘I will never be shaken; For generation after generation I will never see calamity.’” (vs 6)
What says the psalmist of God? “Rise up, O Jehovah. O God, lift up your hand. . . . you do see trouble and distress. You look on and take matters in hand. To you the unfortunate victim turns. . . . Break the arm of the wicked and evil man, So that when you search for his wickedness, You will find it no more.” (vs 12-15)
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