Called to Account
(12) Arise, Yahweh! God, lift up your hand! Do not forget the oppressed. (13) Why does the wicked person despise God, and say in his heart, “You will not call me to account?” (14) But, in fact, you have seen. You have observed trouble and grief that you may repay it by your hand. To you the helpless entrusts himself. You are the helper of the fatherless. (15) Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer. Call his wickedness to account until you find nothing more (against him).
Every significant word that has appeared so far in Psalm 10 is repeated in these four verses because the author has been building throughout the psalm to this climax. All that has been troubling him is finally brought to resolution. Yahweh (vss. 1 & 3), who has been ignored by the wicked because he appears to be indifferent to their malicious ways (vss. 2, 3 & 4), now shows that he really does care. He will call the wicked to account for all the evil they have done (vss. 13 & 15). The poor and helpless (vs. 8) who have so far been oppressed (vss. 2 & 9) now find that God (vss. 4 & 11) truly is on their side and will repay (vs. 7) their oppressors for all the wrongs done to them.
The expression, “call to account,” found twice for emphasis (vss. 13 & 15), carries the idea of a prosecutor conducting a thorough investigation in order to determine innocence or guilt. The evildoer shows his contempt for God by acting as if he will never be subjected to this kind of scrutiny (vs. 13). However, God will hold him answerable for his actions in order to restore justice (vs. 15). The psalmist’s statement, “But, in fact, you (God) have seen!” (vs. 14), functions as the turning point of the psalm. Until this moment, the mood of the psalm has been apprehensive as if under a heavy bank of dark clouds. In this verse, the sun breaks through to assure us that God will not fail to deal justly with evil.
The righteous call on God
- to act on behalf of the oppressed (12)
- to hold the wicked accountable (13 & 14)
- to punish the evildoers (15)
Yahweh will bring justice to the oppressed by holding the wicked accountable for despising God and abusing the poor.
“Too good to be true” is how we often describe a novel or a play that ends happily. In melodramas, the plot typically follows the same formula. The hero rescues the damsel in distress just in the nick of time, often from being tied to a railroad track in front of an oncoming locomotive. The villain who had plotted to kill the heroine and steal her inheritance gets his just deserts for his dastardly deeds. The inheritance passes to the rightful heir who in turn marries her hero. Together they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
The Bible is no melodrama, but God has promised his children that justice will eventually prevail. He will rescue us at just the right time. He will call the wicked to account and will reward those who faithfully persevere in trusting him. Is this too good to be true? Not really, when we realize that the message of the Bible satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts for justice to triumph, for wrongs to be made right, and for joy, not despair, to win outings the end. Whatever injustice we might be facing today, we need to remember that God’s promised day of vindication is coming. We should let the thought, “We are on the winning side,” keep our spirits lifted and our hearts filled with hope even when our circumstances seem discouraging.