Sooner or later, every Christian is going to understand the heart of David when he asked this question. In Psa. 10, he records his frustration with the seeming prosperity and success of the wicked who were “hotly pursuing the afflicted” even while they declared “there is no God” and delighted in their conviction that they would never be moved or face adversity. Naturally, a Godly man like king David found this situation intolerable and it caused him no small amount of grief.

David’s description in this Psalm is chilling. The wicked laugh in the face of God, they have no fear of Him, and don’t worry about ever being called to give an account of themselves. They succeed in whatever they do no matter what harsh methods they employ. They think nothing of killing the innocent and delight in the cleverness of their schemes.

Where is God, David laments. Why is He hiding Himself? David struggled with the notion that such people could prosper while God is enthroned. In desperation, David cries out: “Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted.” Knowing that God is just and kind and merciful, David could not accept the continuing prosperity of the wicked who opposed all that is righteous and good. He had only one option, however. He could not stop the mouth of the wicked from boasting; he could not prevent them from trampling the poor and defenseless under foot. But David could call upon God Himself to come and judge the evil doers. And that is what he does.

Obviously, David had lived for some time in the context described in this Psalm. He saw the innocent persecuted; he saw justice perverted. David witnessed first-hand the cruelty of men who found satisfaction in heaping misery upon others. He experienced the pain of being threatened and maligned; David knew what it was like to have an enemy “pile on,” as we say. David also knew something else; he knew the character of God and the consideration of that knowledge results in the restoration of his confidence and hope.

“You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan.” (v. 14) It is God’s nature to be just and merciful; it is His nature to protect the helpless. This truth was David’s solace during this terribly difficult period in his life. David’s cry of despair becomes a shout of confident praise as he reminds himself of the amazing power and deeds of God.

As I noted in the beginning, every believer will eventually find himself in a situation where it seems that God’s attention has been turned away. It will appear that the plans of the wicked are unfolding without hindrance. It will feel as if an enemy is free to launch attack after attack and to make unopposed accusations of the most disturbing kind. That is when a Christian might wonder: “O LORD, why do You stand afar off?” Such thoughts are known to God, of course. It is how we react to them and to our situation that matters most.

The right course of action is to follow David’s example and remind ourselves of God’s character during those times when it seems as if God is not near us. We may never fully understand all that God is doing when He causes us to pass through the kind of heart-breaking circumstance I’ve described; at such times, we must cling to what we do know for sure, which is the holy character of God. As we dwell on what we do know to be true about God, those elements that are, at least for the moment, beyond our comprehension will cause us far less stress and anxiety. We know that God is good. We know that God orchestrates all things for His glory and our good. This includes whatever we encounter in this life, be it blessings that leave us astonished or trials that leave us in tears.

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