PSALM 10: GOD, WILL YOU PUNISH THAT BULLY!?
Why do wicked people hate God?
They say to themselves, “God won’t punish us.”
Lord, surely you see these cruel and evil things;
look at them and do something.
People in trouble look to you for help.
You are the one who helps the orphans.
The Journey Youth Minister Nate Donley tells me according some polls one in three youth are bullied, and of those bullied it comes at a price mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is tragically clear now that some bullying leads to suicide.
The psalmist is being bullied by evil people and most of Psalm 10 is wondering how evil people do what they do, which is not just an ancient wonder.
- Why does a white man shoot children in a school or into a crowded concert?
- Why do parents abuse children?
- Why does the state of Oklahoma incarcerate more black men than any other state?
- Why does the state of Oklahoma incarcerate more women than other states?
Do women in Oklahoma do more crimes than men? No evidence they do. Do black men do more crimes than anyone else in Oklahoma? There's evidence to show they don't commit crimes in proportion to the level of incarceration. One of the reasons women of all races and black men are bullied is because of a long practice of misogyny and racism that dies hard. When we pray this psalm, we're calling on bullying and evil practices of the courts, lawyers, legislatures to receive the due punishment of God for those evil practices.
On the other hand, I was talking to a Journey family fostering and they referred to the lawyer of the boy they are fostering. I said, "It's a good society that provides legal representation to children." But, according to another fostering dad in our church quoting statistics, Oklahoma has more foster children than any state in the U.S. According to http://www.oklahomafosters.com/statistics/ there are 9,600 children in state custody. It's good our state represents children, organizations stand up for children's rights, people foster, but what am I doing? Am I calling on God to defend the cause of orphans? Psalm 10 models how we are to call on God to defend the cause of the powerless, orphans, the vulnerable, the bullied and abused.
Psalm 10 asks why evil people bully and calls on God to punish them. After Nate, Journey Youth Minister, told me about the bullying statistics, I suggested he read Psalm 10 and replace "evil people" with bullies and read it with the youth and discuss. We'll see what they come up with Sunday, and I've asked them to share during our worship service, so we can crack open the problem of bullying and call upon God more openly and see some youth set free from a kind of deep and oppressive bondage that can lead to suicide.
Try it. Read Psalm 10 and replace "evil people" with bullies. We're not talking about a 5 year old pushing another kid on the playground. We're talking about bullies who relentlessly and shamelessly cause mental, physical, and spiritual distress, and don't care. We're not talking about only middle and high school kids, but we're also talking about presidents, politicians, and pastors. They can all be bullies, and each of us must watch our own steps, that we do not bully or allow bullying others. Do you think I relish placing my own role as pastor in the same sentence of the alliteration "presidents, politicians, and pastors"? Nope, but lest I have a "bully pulpit," I'd better put myself into that sentence, because we're all susceptible of bullying people we love or hate.
I paraphrased the International English Bible and replaced "evil people" with "bullies" below.
Bullies arrogantly pursue the poor people, who get caught in traps which the bullies set. The bullies brag about the things they want. They bless the greedy people, but they despise Yahweh. Bullies have a proud look. They do not look for God. Every single one of their schemes is futile. They think that there is no God. They are always twisted.
Bullies are far from keeping Your laws. Bullies make fun of all their enemies. Bullies think: “Nothing bad will ever happen to me! I will never be ruined!” Bullies mouths are full of curses, lies, and threats. Under their tongues are trouble and sin.
Bullies stalk outside the villages. They secretly look for innocent people to kill. They watch for the helpless one. Secretly they wait like a lion—in hiding. They wait to pounce upon poor people . . . the victims are defeated by the bullies and the bullies think God has forgotten and does not see what’s happening.
O GOD RISE UP AND PUNISH THE BULLIES! Don’t forget those who need help. Why do evil people despise God!? They think to themselves: “God will not punish us!” O YAHWEH SURELY YOU SEE THE CRUEL AND EVIL THINGS BULLIES DO! LOOK AT THEM AND DO SOMETHING! PEOPLE IN TROUBLE LOOK TO YOU FOR HELP. You are the One who helps the orphans. Break the power of bullies. Punish them for the wrongs they have done, until there is nothing left to punish.
Yahweh is in charge, the King forever and ever. Listen King Jesus and do what the people want, what we are asking for. Listen and protect the orphans, the bullied, the abused who suffer.
THEN THEY WILL NO LONGER BE AFRAID OF BULLIES.
"O Yahweh God, rise up and punish the evil people. Don't forget those who need help. Why do evil people despise God!? They think to themselves: "God will not punish us!" O Yahweh, surely You see the cruel and evil things!? Look at them and do something! People in trouble look to you for help. You are the One who helps the orphans! (Psalm 10:12-14; see also Exodus 22:22; James 1:27)
When you are experiencing bullying, you can pray Psalm 10, saying, "God, do something about that bully!" (Psalm 10:14)
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.