Psalm 10 – Why Do the Wicked Prosper?

Are you ever frustrated by the evil person who seems to flourish?  In Psalm 10 David confronts God with the apparent prosperity of the wicked.  Doesn’t God promise to punish the wicked and bless the righteous?  Then why is this person prospering in his evil?


Psalm 10 appears to be a continuation of Psalm 9 and many scholars believe they were at one time a single psalm. Psalm 9 was a partial acrostic and Psalm 10 starts up where it left off and, although it is missing some letters, continues to the end of the alphabet. It is also the first psalm that does not have a heading. Additionally, it continues the theme of justice. If so, then verse 1 of Psalm 10 is the center of the complete psalm and the central idea,

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

The meaningful center of Psalm 10, on its own, is the end of verse 9 and beginning of verse 10.

  he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down,

What are we do with the fact that evil people often seem to get away with it?

The Evil Person

Psalm 10:1-11

After voicing his question to God, David does not immediately give us an answer. First he gives us an in-depth description of the evil person he has observed. This person:

  • is arrogant
  • takes advantage of the weak with wicked schemes
  • boasts of his desires
  • curses God
  • has no room for God
  • prospers in his evil
  • thinks that nothing will stop him
  • his mouth is full of curses, lies and threats
  • Crushes the helpless and poor
  • Believes God does not see or care

It seems like this person’s schemes and evil plans are a success.  In verse 10 David declares, “The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.”  This evil person believes God does not see his actions.  He believes he will get away with his crimes.

Rescue the Affliced!

Psalm 10:12-13

At verse 12 The psalm changes from a description of the evil person to a cry for God to perform justice. David pleads with God to not forget the afflicted or let the wicked continue to think He doesn’t care.

Our Just God

Psalm 10:14-18

Following this cry, David confidently proclaims that God does see the grief this person has caused.  God will call him to account.  There is no hiding from God.

David ends his psalm by declaring that God, who is King, will defend the oppressed and terrify the evil person. In fact from verse 14 through 18 the psalmists declares his confidence in God’s justice.

  • God does see
  • God will help
  • God is King
  • The wicked will perish
  • God does hear
  • God will do justice

The Reigning King

Verse 14 stand out in stark contrast because of a sudden change in address from talking to God to talking about God. The psalmist wants to make sure you hear his message clearly:

The Lord is king forever and ever

This is an interesting declaration after all David has said about the evil person prospering in his schemes. So what makes David so sure about God’s protection?

David’s confidence is not found in his limited observations. We see so little of all that goes on, not only in the physical world but also in the spiritual realms.

David knows that God is the ultimate King and that God is the defender of the helpless. Even though David does not see it at this moment, he knows that God will punish the evil doer.


We, like David, need to “look” past what we see to what we know about God.  God is good and God is all-powerful.  The Wicked may prosper for a time, but God will always win in the end!

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Personal Worship, Psalms and tagged .