(1) Why, Yahweh, do you stand off at a distance? Why do you hide yourself in times of distress? (2) In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted. Let them be caught in the schemes which they have devised, (3) for the wicked boasts of the passions of his soul. He blesses the one greedy for gain and scorns Yahweh. (4) The wicked in the haughtiness of his bearing does not seek (God). “There is no God” (is in) all his evil thoughts. (5) His ways seem always prosperous. Your judgments are far above, out of his sight. He sneers at all his enemies. (6) He says in his heart, “I will not be shaken. Throughout all generations (as long as I live), I shall never encounter adversity.”
This passage opens with the psalmist posing two questions both of which raise the same issue: “Why, Yahweh, do you not intervene?” The reason for the author seeking God’s involvement is made evident by the rest of the segment. His concern is with “the wicked” who are mentioned specifically (vss. 2, 3, & 4) and then referenced by pronouns (vss. 5 & 6).
The chief characteristic of the wicked is arrogant “pride” (vs. 2), also called “boasting” (vs. 3), ”scorning” (vs. 3), “haughtiness” (vs. 4), and “sneering” (vs. 5). Pride is also evidenced in their thoughts: “There is no God” (vs. 4) and “I will not be shaken (or) encounter adversity” (vs. 6). The wicked seem to pursue their self-absorbed, self-serving lives without a care while wreaking havoc in the lives of all who dare to get in their way. This concern prompts the psalmist to cry out, “Where are you when we need you, Yahweh?”
I. The faithful crying out for help (1)
II. The prideful arrogance of the wicked (2-6)
The arrogance of the wicked who seem to prosper while scorning God and exploiting the godly prompts the faithful to cry out for Yahweh’s intervention.
Asking Yahweh “Why?” when we don’t understand what is happening in our lives is never a sin if we are genuinely seeking a valid answer from him. However, we must be careful never to presume that God does not know or care about what is happening in our lives. Otherwise our asking “Why?” may indicate that we are harboring a critical, accusatory spirit. The psalmist’s two questions in the opening verse show how troubled he was by Yahweh’s seeming inaction. Yet, he never crossed the line to become enraged or bitter. He may have been distressed, but he did not allow his heart to rebel against Yahweh.
When we cry out to Yahweh, we should always keep in mind his goodness as well as the promises he has given us in his Word. Yahweh welcomes our questioning and wants us to be open with him in our expressions of frustration when we sincerely come to him for help. What we must avoid is a cynical attitude that conveys a grumbling, critical spirit within. We must continually remind ourselves that God sees the big picture, knows far more than we do, and that his plans and purposes stretch far beyond our immediate understanding. We need to temper our concerns with the following verse from the Book of Hebrews, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).