URC Daily Devotion 12 November 2023

Sunday, 12 November 2023

Psalm 10

Lord, why do you stand afar off
and hide yourself in times of distress?
The poor are devoured by the pride of the wicked:
they are caught in the schemes that others have made.

For the wicked boast of their heart’s desires;
the covetous blasphemes and spurns the Lord.
In their pride the wicked says: “God will not punish.
There is no God.” Such are their thoughts.

Their path is ever untroubled;
your judgement is far from their minds.
Their enemies they regard with contempt.
They think: “Never shall we falter:
misfortune shall never be our lot.”

Their mouths are full of cursing, guile, oppression;
mischief and deceit are their food.
They lie in wait among the reeds;
they murder the innocent in secret.

Their eyes are on the watch for the helpless.
They lurk in hiding like lions in their den;
they lurk in hiding to seize the poor;
they seize the poor and drag them away.

They crouch, preparing to spring,
and the helpless fall beneath such strength.
They think in their hearts: “God forgets,
he hides his face, he does not see.”

Arise then, Lord, lift up your hand!
O God, do not forget the poor!
Why should the wicked spurn the Lord
and think in his heart: “God will not punish”?

But you have seen the trouble and sorrow,
you note it, you take it in hand.
The helpless entrust themselves to you;
for you are the helper of the orphan.

Break the power of the wicked and the sinner!
Punish their wickedness till nothing remains!
The Lord is king for ever and ever.
The heathen shall perish from the land he rules.

Lord, you hear the prayer of the poor;
you strengthen their hearts; you turn your ear
to protect the rights of the orphan and oppressed:
so that earthly tyrants may strike terror no more.

The Psalms: An Inclusive Language Version based on the Grail translation from the Hebrew
© 1963, 1986 The Grail (England) GIA Publications


The early twentieth century American humorist, Robert Benchley, once quipped: “I wish the sun would go away so I didn’t have to go out in it!”  
I guess at times we have all felt like this when perhaps facing the demands of a difficult working week ahead. For some people this feeling is less a passing light-hearted reflection, but rather a cry of despair about a life that has lost meaning or a sense that the world is stacked against you.
Today’s Psalm tells how the writer was in a state of total loss about his future. The Psalmist cannot find a way through his problems and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. His enemies and the forces of evil overwhelm him and it feels that the wicked have free reign to do just what they want. 

Like many today who look forlornly at how powerful nations wage war on defenceless civilians, whilst we look on helplessly, we ask, with the Psalmist: why is the bad person dominating; why is evil left unchecked? 

In fact, the Psalmist goes further. In his bewilderment and torment, he asks boldly where is God in all this? Why is God so far away; why is God hidden in times of trouble?
I recall reading a commentary on this Psalm some years ago and the writer regarded the Psalmist’s railing at God in this way as somewhat inappropriate and embarrassing; so the commentary struck a rather apologetic note.
For me this misses the point. Faced as we are with the awful and often unjust things happening in the world, and in our own lives, it is entirely appropriate for us to express our despair, our hopelessness … and yes, even our anger and doubts, to God.
God has broad shoulders and can take it! He wants to hear and share our pain and anguish. Challenging, expressing our raw emotions, and raging at God is OK; ignoring him is not.


Dear God,
When evil abounds and bad people prosper
Where are you? How can you permit such things?
We struggle to see any purpose in dreadful happenings.
And then …
through our sighs of despair
through our cries of anger
through our blinking tears
we see you alongside us
sharing our grief and anguish.
Stay with us, Lord.




Today’s writer

Professor Graham Handscomb Member of Christ Church URC Chelmsford 



New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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