Why do bad things happen to good people? Psalms 9 and 10

These two psalms make up just one psalm in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. Together they are an acrostic, with verses beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Why do bad things happen to good people? These psalms together offer an answer – but you aren’t going to like it!

THE THEORY – GOD IS SOVEREIGN

PSALM 9 1-12, 15-17

PAUSE TO REFLECT

The psalm begins with a declaration of confident faith – God is on the throne!
We put our trust in the character of God – his righteousness and justice.
We also put our trust in certainty of ultimate judgment
We put our trust in God’s everlasting love for the oppressed and for those who seek His face.
But that is in the future. Present experience is not always as comfortable!

THE REALITY – GOOD PEOPLE STILL SUFFER

GO TO Psalm 10:1-11

PAUSE TO REFLECT

In the face of opposition God appears to be far away and we find ourselves asking “Why?”
Trouble is near and the wicked seem to be coming out on top.
Worse than that – the wicked make their plans to bring down and destroy the righteous.
The present reality is that innocent and godly people still suffer – indeed they are often the victims of the wicked.

THE ONLY ANSWER – WE CRY OUT TO GOD FOR HELP

GO TO Psalm 9:13-14
GO TO Psalm 9:18-20
GO TO Psalm 10:12-18

PAUSE TO REFLECT

The psalms give no answer to the question of why God seems so far away. Instead we simply cling to God in the midst of our suffering.
We call out twice for God to “Arise” as if he is asleep on the job.
We beg God not to forget the helpless, as if he has forgotten them.
We call on God to keep the promises he has made to be “a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (9:9)
and not to forsake those who seek Him (9:10). God is merciful and will lift us up, even “from the gates of death”

We put our trust in the character of God – his righteousness and justice
9 8 He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
We also put our trust in certainty of ultimate judgment
God is still king (9:4,7)
9 4 For you have upheld my right and my cause;
you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.

9 7 The LORD reigns for ever;
he has established his throne for judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 10:16

God is “the helper of the fatherless.” (10:14)

So the psalms end by remembering that God always hears the prayers of those who are in trouble. And even though all the present circumstances may suggest the opposite, God will answer our prayers as well.
10 17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

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