For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God” (Psalm 10:3-4).
Terrify No More, a book whose title is taken from Psalm 10, recounts the efforts of the International Justice Mission to rescue young girls from the commercial rape and violence we call sex trafficking. In one account, a rescued girl was reluctant to give evidence that would condemn the woman who enslaved and sold her. When asked why, she said, “Well, I’m not very pretty, so I don’t have to be with many men. It’s not that bad.” Gary A. Haugen, the author, reflects:
It reminds me of what a brutal crime this is against the girls. Yes, certainly what happens to them physically is deplorable, but what it does to their sense of self and what gives them value is equally criminal. This girl had decided that because she didn’t get beaten that often, and didn’t have to be with that many men, that it just wasn’t that bad. In her eyes, she was a loser either way—if she were prettier, she’d have to serve more customers; but since she wasn’t pretty enough to make men want to abuse her, life in a brothel was okay.
Nothing is more sickening than the sight of the strong violating the innocent and the vulnerable, crushing their bodies and wounding their souls. Psalm 10, a protest against grave injustice, sheds light on the character of evildoers and what motivates their behavior. After a cry for the Lord to intervene, the psalmist describes the evildoer’s cruelty:
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might (Ps 10:7-10).
Imagine a twelve-year-old girl as one of those being preyed on in the psalm. The evildoer sits in ambush, looking to capture the innocent either by force or by making her trust him. Then he draws her into his net, stripping her of clothes and dignity, offering her to evil men under whose weight she will sink, drugging her so she will comply, beating her if she does not. Or imagine the twelve-year-old being taught in school how to use a condom, or being told that she may be a he. Or picture her a few years later in an abortion clinic, being assured, in language carefully crafted to hide the existence of a baby, that she is making a wise decision, that this short uncomplicated procedure will bring her freedom.
Why do evildoers do what they do? In their own words: “There is no God” (10:4); “I shall not be moved, throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity” (10:6); “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it” (10:11); “You will not call to account” (10:13).
This has been so from the beginning. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because they believed the serpent’s promise that “You will not surely die!” Whether one believes God is nonexistent or indifferent, the practical effect is the same: God is irrelevant. Thus, atheism opens the door for great evil, for if there is no God, evildoers need only to worry about man. They will do what they think they can get away with. This does not mean all atheists are cruel, just that they have no ultimate reason to be kind.
This atheistic/agnostic perspective reigns in places of influence in our world, from governments to corporations to institutions of learning. In elementary schools, universities—sometimes even seminaries—education is effectively a commitment to practical atheism, which teaches students to think about the world apart from God. We know where it all leads. Masquerading as freedom, atheism shackles. And the vulnerable are the ones who suffer.
And what does the psalm tell us of the righteous? The righteous know there is a God who calls man into account, and they live accordingly. As the psalmist says:
Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath (10:9-11).
In other words, the righteous believe we will all stand to give account to God. Furthermore, they are not OK with the world that oppresses the vulnerable. They plead with God and act with man, for they can never be silent and at peace in a world where oppression of the vulnerable runs unchecked.