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Mizmor 010 – When Evil Prospers
(א) לָמָה ה’ תַּעֲמֹד בְּרָחוֹק תַּעְלִים לְעִתּוֹת בַּצָּרָה:
(1) Why, Hashem do You stand at a distance? [Why] do You hide in times of trouble?
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 9]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 010 – When Evil Prospers
David asks how it can be that Hashem tolerates the resha’im (wicked people). They are under the impression that they can get away with anything and so they have no compunctions about causing suffering to the innocent. David then calls upon Hashem to rise up and show His justice now. Finally, he paints a picture of a better world in which the resha’im have been laid low and are no longer the role models they are today.
Navigating Tehillim. Mizmor 037 (A Tapestry of Enlightenment) offers another lesson in how to react to the presence of resha’im in the world. David reminds us that their apparent prosperity won’t last. In contrast, the people with bitachon will be rewarded with security and happiness.
Exploring the Mizmor
David did not compose this mizmor in response to a specific situation; he designed it as a tefillah to be said by any person who is in distress because of the resha’im in the world. David begins the mizmor by appealing to Hashem to stop tolerating resha’im. He then goes on to demonstrate the perverted attitude of the resha’im and the ways they bring agony to mankind.
PART 1. WHY ARE THE WICKED TOLERATED? David appeals to Hashem to show His presence more openly. Wicked people can only survive as long as Hashem does not take action against them. In making his case David proceeds to describe the villainy of the resha’im, which can only be occurring because it is tolerated by Hashem.
(א) לָמָה ה’ תַּעֲמֹד בְּרָחוֹק תַּעְלִים לְעִתּוֹת בַּצָּרָה: (ב) בְּגַאֲוַת רָשָׁע יִדְלַק עָנִי יִתָּפְשׂוּ בִּמְזִמּוֹת זוּ חָשָׁבוּ: (ג) כִּי הִלֵּל רָשָׁע עַל תַּאֲוַת נַפְשׁוֹ וּבֹצֵעַ בֵּרֵךְ נִאֵץ ה’:
(1) Why, Hashem do You stand at a distance? [Why] do You hide in times of trouble? (2) In the arrogance of the rasha (wicked man) he hunts down the poor. May [he and his accomplices] be caught in the very schemes they have contrived. (3) For the rasha compliments [himself] for his desires. And the robber blesses [himself], mocking Hashem.
PART 2. IMMUNE FROM JUDGMENT. David charges the rasha with acting as though he will not have to give an accounting for his behavior. The rasha rejects the possibility of a higher power:
(ד) רָשָׁע כְּגֹבַהּ אַפּוֹ בַּל יִדְרֹשׁ אֵין אֱלֹקִים כָּל מְזִמּוֹתָיו: (ה) יָחִילוּ דְרָכָיו בְּכָל עֵת מָרוֹם מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ מִנֶּגְדּוֹ כָּל צוֹרְרָיו יָפִיחַ בָּהֶם: (ו) אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ בַּל אֶמּוֹט לְדֹר וָדֹר אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְרָע:
(4) The rasha, in his conceit says “No [one] will seek [me].” “There is no G-d” [is the basis of] all his scheming. (5) His ways are always successful. Your judgments on high [are far removed] from him. His human adversaries, he puffs at them. (6) He says in his heart, ‘I will not falter, from generation to generation, which will be without adversity.
PART 3. VILLAINY IN ACTION. David continues in the presentation of his case against the rasha. Because the rasha feels free of restraint, he perpetrates one wicked deed after another. Thus, he takes advantage of those who don’t have the ability to resist. And since the oppressor generally operates behind the scenes David speaks of him as lurking in ambush.
(ז) אָלָה פִּיהוּ מָלֵא וּמִרְמוֹת וָתֹךְ תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנוֹ עָמָל וָאָוֶן: (ח) יֵשֵׁב בְּמַאְרַב חֲצֵרִים בַּמִּסְתָּרִים יַהֲרֹג נָקִי עֵינָיו לְחֵלְכָה יִצְפֹּנוּ: (ט) יֶאֱרֹב בַּמִּסְתָּר כְּאַרְיֵה בְסֻכֹּה יֶאֱרֹב לַחֲטוֹף עָנִי יַחְטֹף עָנִי בְּמָשְׁכוֹ בְרִשְׁתּוֹ: (י) יִדְכֶּה יָשֹׁחַ וְנָפַל בַּעֲצוּמָיו חֵל כָּאִים: (יא) אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ שָׁכַח אֵל הִסְתִּיר פָּנָיו בַּל רָאָה לָנֶצַח:
(7) His mouth is filled with promises, but words of deception and hidden malice are under his tongue, [causing] pain and distress. (8) He waits in ambush in the open spaces; in hidden places he murders the innocent. His eyes spy out the meek. (9) He lurks in hiding like a lion in his lair; he waits in ambush to snatch a poor man. He grabs the poor man when he draws his net. (10) He stoops and lies low. The unguarded victims fall to his power. (11) He says in his heart ‘G-d has forgotten. He has hidden His face; He will never see.’
PART 4. A PLEA FOR DIVINE ACTION. David now calls upon Hashem to take direct action against the resha’im:
(יב) קוּמָה ה’, אֵ־ל נְשָׂא יָדֶךָ אַל תִּשְׁכַּח עֲנָוִים: (יג) עַל מֶה נִאֵץ רָשָׁע אֱלֹקִים אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ לֹא תִדְרֹשׁ: (יד) רָאִתָה כִּי אַתָּה עָמָל וָכַעַס תַּבִּיט לָתֵת בְּיָדֶךָ עָלֶיךָ יַעֲזֹב חֵלֶכָה יָתוֹם אַתָּה הָיִיתָ עוֹזֵר: (טו) שְׁבֹר זְרוֹעַ רָשָׁע, וָרָע – תִּדְרוֹשׁ רִשְׁעוֹ בַל תִּמְצָא:
(12) Arise, Hashem. G-d, lift Your hand, don’t forget the humble. (13) Why does the rasha insult G-d? Because he says in his heart, “You will not seek.” (14) [But] You see! For You take notice of wrongdoing and anger. To dispense [punishment] is in Your power. The helpless victim relies upon You. The orphan, You were his Help. (15) Break the power of the rasha and [as for his] evil, [when] one looks for his evil it will not be anywhere to be found.
PART 5. VISION OF THE FUTURE. David concludes with a vision of the world as it will be once Hashem reveals His power.
(טז) ה’ מֶלֶךְ עוֹלָם וָעֶד אָבְדוּ גוֹיִם מֵאַרְצוֹ: (יז) תַּאֲוַת עֲנָוִים שָׁמַעְתָּ ה’ תָּכִין לִבָּם תַּקְשִׁיב אָזְנֶךָ: (יח) לִשְׁפֹּט יָתוֹם וָדָךְ בַּל יוֹסִיף עוֹד לַעֲרֹץ אֱנוֹשׁ מִן הָאָרֶץ:
(16) Hashem is King eternally. Nations have perished from His land. (17) You have heard the desires of the humble, Hashem. You will guide their heart. You will make Your ear attentive, (18) to take up the cause of the orphan and the downtrodden. [The rasha] will no longer continue to terrorize any earthly mortal.
Learning the Mizmor
(א) לָמָה ה‘ תַּעֲמֹד בְּרָחוֹק
Why, Hashem — לָמָה ה’ , don’t You come to the aid of the innocent victims of the wicked? Why do You stand at a distance — תַּעֲמֹד בְּרָחוֹק ? Why do You make it seem as though You don’t see what is happening?
תַּעְלִים לְעִתּוֹת בַּצָּרָה:
Why do You hide — תַּעְלִים  Your presence in times of trouble  לְעִתּוֹת בַּצָּרָה when the weak are being oppressed? Why don’t You make the resha’im sense Your presence so that they will be afraid to take advantage of the weak? Why do You allow them to think they can get away with what they are doing? 
(ב) בְּגַאֲוַת רָשָׁע יִדְלַק עָנִי
Since You have permitted the rasha to do what he wants, he is filled with his own self-importance and disregards the rights of others. In the rasha’s arrogance — בְּגַאֲוַת רָשָׁע , he openly hunts down the poor — יִדְלַק עָנִי , who are most vulnerable.
יִתָּפְשׂוּ בִּמְזִמּוֹת זוּ חָשָׁבוּ:
May the rasha and all his accomplices be caught  יִתָּפְשׂוּ  in the very schemes they have contrived — בִּמְזִמּוֹת זוּ חָשָׁבוּ  to snare the poor. Their treachery will then be apparent to all.
(ג) כִּי הִלֵּל רָשָׁע עַל תַּאֲוַת נַפְשׁוֹ
For the rasha has no interest in the welfare of others. Rather he compliments himself — כִּי הִלֵּל רָשָׁע  for satisfying his desires — עַל תַּאֲוַת נַפְשׁוֹ . He sees his momentary satisfaction as an achievement because a greedy person is usually never satisfied, always wanting more.
וּבֹצֵעַ בֵּרֵךְ נִאֵץ ה’:
And the robber blesses — וּבֹצֵעַ בֵּרֵךְ  himself for having successfully plundered the property of others. He relies only upon himself and thereby mocks Hashem — נִאֵץ ה’ .
(ד) רָשָׁע כְּגֹבַהּ אַפּוֹ בַּל יִדְרֹשׁ
The rasha in his conceit — רָשָׁע כְּגֹבַהּ אַפּוֹ , says to himself, “There is no power that will seek — בַּל יִדְרֹשׁ  to challenge my actions!”
אֵין אֱלֹקִים כָּל מְזִמּוֹתָיו:
“There is no G-d — אֵין אֱלֹקִים  to hold me accountable” is the underlying basis of all his scheming plans — כָּל מְזִמּוֹתָיו .
(ה) יָחִילוּ דְרָכָיו בְּכָל עֵת
Since the rasha is not being held to account for his crimes, his ways are always successful — יָחִילוּ דְרָכָיו בְּכָל עֵת . He fails to consider that such a high success rate is in itself an unnatural phenomenon and should be treated as a sign of trouble ahead.
מָרוֹם מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ מִנֶּגְדּוֹ
He ignores the fact that You are taking stock of his every action. In fact, he sees Your judgments as being remotely on high  מָרוֹם מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ . As they are far removed from him — מִנֶּגְדּוֹ , he thinks he does not face punishment.
כָּל צוֹרְרָיו, יָפִיחַ בָּהֶם:
As far as all his human adversaries  כָּל צוֹרְרָיו  are concerned, he just puffs at them  יָפִיחַ בָּהֶם ! He doesn’t worry about having to pay for his crimes.
(ו) אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ בַּל אֶמּוֹט
לְדֹר וָדֹר אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְרָע:
The rasha thinks he will remain in his strong position indefinitely, and so he says in his heart — אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ , I will not falter — בַּל אֶמּוֹט . My family will continue in power forever, from generation to generation — לְדֹר וָדֹר , all of which will be without adversity — אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְרָע .”
(ז) אָלָה פִּיהוּ מָלֵא
וּמִרְמוֹת וָתֹךְ
In his selfishness he has no qualms about cheating others by making promises that he cannot keep. His mouth is filled with oaths — אָלָה פִּיהוּ מָלֵא , swearing to deliver upon his every commitment. But his powers of persuasion are a facade, which are built upon lies. And so his oaths are words of deception and hidden malice — וּמִרְמוֹת וָתֹךְ  to manipulate his listeners into falling for his schemes.
תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנוֹ עָמָל וָאָוֶן:
But deep within his heart, under his tongue — תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנוֹ , his real intention is to cause pain and distress — עָמָל וָאָוֶן .
(ח) יֵשֵׁב בְּמַאְרַב חֲצֵרִים 
בַּמִּסְתָּרִים יַהֲרֹג נָקִי
He is so confident of success that he waits in ambush — יֵשֵׁב בְּמַאְרַב even in the open spaces — חֲצֵרִים of settled areas. Then, in hidden places — בַּמִּסְתָּרִים  he murders the innocent — יַהֲרֹג נָקִי , who have done nothing to him to warrant such cruelty.
עֵינָיו לְחֵלְכָה יִצְפֹּנוּ:
While pretending to look elsewhere, his eyes — עֵינָיו  spy out the meek — לְחֵלְכָה יִצְפֹּנוּ , who in their innocence have not guarded themselves against aggressors.
(ט) יֶאֱרֹב בַּמִּסְתָּר כְּאַרְיֵה בְסֻכֹּה
Instead of learning Torah or otherwise contributing to society, he lurks in hiding like a lion in his lair — יֶאֱרֹב בַּמִּסְתָּר כְּאַרְיֵה בְסֻכֹּה , hoping to suddenly leap out and catch a defenseless victim unawares.
יֶאֱרֹב לַחֲטוֹף עָנִי
He may also be likened to a hunter who waits in ambush — יֶאֱרֹב  after setting a trap. The rasha is so habituated to robbery that he does not bother to find a rich victim to make it worth his while. He is ready to snatch an unwitting poor man — לַחֲטוֹף עָנִי , who thinks he is not a target because he has few possessions to steal.
יַחְטֹף עָנִי בְּמָשְׁכוֹ בְרִשְׁתּוֹ:
Then he snatches the poor man — יַחְטֹף עָנִי when he draws his net — בְּמָשְׁכוֹ בְרִשְׁתּוֹ . He has no compunction about taking advantage of someone who is already suffering financial hardship.
(י) יִדְכֶּה יָשֹׁחַ 
וְנָפַל בַּעֲצוּמָיו חֵל כָּאִים:
He stoops and lies low — יִדְכֶּה יָשֹׁחַ  to avoid alerting his intended victims to the danger they are in. Then the unguarded victims fall prey to his power — וְנָפַל בַּעֲצוּמָיו חֵל כָּאִים . His concern is only to avoid being detected by his victims. He has no fear of G-d.
(יא) אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ שָׁכַח אֵ־ל
He says in his heart — אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ : “Surely G-d has forgotten — שָׁכַח אֵ־ל  about the world He created and is no longer concerned with the doings of its creatures.”
הִסְתִּיר פָּנָיו בַּל רָאָה לָנֶצַח:
And the rasha convinces himself that this is not just a temporary lapse: [Hashem] has hidden His face — הִסְתִּיר פָּנָיו  from the sight of those who are being persecuted. He will never look to see — בַּל רָאָה לָנֶצַח  whether people like me are committing crimes.
(יב) קוּמָה ה‘ 
אֵ־ל נְשָׂא יָדֶךָ
Arise, Hashem — קוּמָה ה’ ! Your world needs You! Without You, the world cannot continue to exist. G-d, raise Your hand — אֵ־ל נְשָׂא יָדֶךָ  to show Your power! Let the wicked, who deny You, fear Your anger.
אַל תִּשְׁכַּח עֲנָוִים:
Don’t forget the humble — אַל תִּשְׁכַּח עֲנָוִים  and the poor who have selflessly devoted themselves to You and yet have been persecuted by the resha’im!
(יג) עַל מֶה נִאֵץ רָשָׁע אֱלֹקִים 
אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ לֹא תִדְרֹשׁ:
Why does the rasha feel free to insult G-d — עַל מֶה נִאֵץ רָשָׁע אֱלֹקִים  by intentionally violating Divine law? Because he says in his heart — אָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ : You will not seek — לֹא תִדְרֹשׁ  to punish anything I do.”
(יד) רָאִתָה כִּי אַתָּה עָמָל וָכַעַס תַּבִּיט
But Hashem, You do see — רָאִתָה ! For You  כִּי אַתָּה  surely take notice of all evil, whether it is self-indulgent wrongdoing or intentionally anger-provoking behavior — עָמָל וָכַעַס תַּבִּיט .
לָתֵת בְּיָדֶךָ 
עָלֶיךָ יַעֲזֹב חֵלֶכָה
To dispense  לָתֵת  punishment to the resha’im and stop their viciousness is in Your power — בְּיָדֶךָ . The helpless victim relies only upon You — עָלֶיךָ יַעֲזֹב חֵלֶכָה , for he trusts in Your teachings of peace and does not take steps to protect himself.
יָתוֹם אַתָּה הָיִיתָ עוֹזֵר:
The victim is right to rely on You, for You have proven Yourself in the past to be the Defender of the weak. Even the orphan — יָתוֹם  who is too young to appreciate Your goodness, You were his Help — אַתָּה הָיִיתָ עוֹזֵר .
(טו) שְׁבֹר זְרוֹעַ רָשָׁע
Break the power of the rasha — שְׁבֹר זְרוֹעַ רָשָׁע  so that others will not see him as their role model and will avoid following his evil ways. Then the rasha will be isolated.
וָרָע תִּדְרוֹשׁ רִשְׁעוֹ בַל תִּמְצָא:
And as for his evil — וָרָע , even though it is now widespread, once You break the power of the rasha, people will no longer follow his example. Then when one looks for his evil it will not be anywhere to be found — תִּדְרוֹשׁ רִשְׁעוֹ בַל תִּמְצָא .
(טז) ה‘ מֶלֶךְ עוֹלָם וָעֶד 
אָבְדוּ גוֹיִם מֵאַרְצוֹ:
It will then have been demonstrated to all that Hashem is King — ה’ מֶלֶךְ , Who actively and eternally — עוֹלָם וָעֶד  rules over His world. We shall see that the nations who contest His rule of law have perished, especially from His holy land — אָבְדוּ גוֹיִם מֵאַרְצוֹ .
(יז) תַּאֲוַת עֲנָוִים שָׁמַעְתָּ ה‘
In that glorious time the world will know that You have heard the desires of the humbleHashem  תַּאֲוַת עֲנָוִים שָׁמַעְתָּ ה’  as expressed by their tefillah to You, even if their exhausted condition makes them unable to put it into words.
תָּכִין לִבָּם 
תַּקְשִׁיב אָזְנֶךָ:
You will guide their heart  תָּכִין לִבָּם  to serve You by living a modest life, without resorting to excess. And You will make Your ear attentive — תַּקְשִׁיב אָזְנֶךָ  to their words as soon as they have the strength to utter them.
(יח) לִשְׁפֹּט יָתוֹם וָדָךְ
You will then respond to their needs, to take up the cause of the orphan and the downtrodden — לִשְׁפֹּט יָתוֹם וָדָךְ , who are now being oppressed by the rasha.
בַּל יוֹסִיף עוֹד לַעֲרֹץ אֱנוֹשׁ מִן הָאָרֶץ:
Once You have judged the rasha and he sees the price to be paid for his crimes, he will no longer continue — בַּל יוֹסִיף עוֹד  to terrorize any earthly mortal — לַעֲרֹץ אֱנוֹשׁ מִן הָאָרֶץ , no matter how weak.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah asking for your needs, or expressing your devotion to Hashem.
Lessons for Life – Your Attitude.
[10:2] ARROGANCE. – בְּגַאֲוַת רָשָׁע יִדְלַק עָנִי – “In the arrogance of the rasha he hunts down the poor.” Take special care to avoid arrogance, which is the attitude of the wicked. Because of it they feel free to victimize innocent people.
[10:4] HASHEM IS ALWAYS THERE. – אֵין אֱלֹקִים כָּל מְזִמּוֹתָיו – “There is no G-d” [is the basis of] all his scheming.” Don’t fall into the trap of the wicked who disregard the presence of Hashem when they wish to do what they know He abhors.
[10:5] PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED. – יָחִילוּ דְרָכָיו בְּכָל עֵת – “His ways are always successful.” Don’t let yourself be misled or demoralized by the apparent success of the wicked, no matter how convincing it looks. They succeed because they are not restrained by conscience or morality, but they will pay a heavy price for their crimes.
Tefillos for Life – Your Relationship with Hashem.
[10:1] DISTANCE. – לָמָה ה’ תַּעֲמֹד בְּרָחוֹק – “Why, Hashem do You stand at a distance?” Plead with Hashem not to remain distant from you, especially if you are in trouble and are desperate for His help.
[10:12] URGENCY. – קוּמָה ה’, אֵ־ל נְשָׂא יָדֶךָ אַל תִּשְׁכַּח עֲנָוִים – “Arise, Hashem. G-d, lift Your hand, don’t forget the humble.” Plead with Hashem to act immediately to bring the yeshuah for which you have been praying so long.
Tefillos for Life – Your Yeshuah.
[10:2] SELF-DESTRUCTION OF THE WICKED. – יִתָּפְשׂוּ בִּמְזִמּוֹת זוּ חָשָׁבוּ – “May [the resha’im] be caught in the very schemes they have contrived.” Ask that people who want to harm you be disabled through their own actions, without the need for your active involvement.
[10:15] DISABLING THE WICKED. – שְׁבֹר זְרוֹעַ רָשָׁע – “Break the power of the rasha.” Plead with Hashem to bring the evil power of resha’im to an end so that their victims are freed from their cruelty.
[10:18] – בַּל יוֹסִיף עוֹד לַעֲרֹץ אֱנוֹשׁ מִן הָאָרֶץ – “[The rasha] will no longer continue to terrorize any earthly mortal.”
Tefillos for Life – Contemplation of Hashem.
[10:16] ETERNITY. – ה’ מֶלֶךְ עוֹלָם וָעֶד – “Hashem is King eternally.” Hashem rules the world for all time and any appearance of imbalance in the scheme of things will ultimately be resolved.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the pesukim of this mizmor are listed below.
א – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מצודות, מלבי”ם, נר לרגלי
ב – רש”י, אבן עזרא, רד”ק, נר לרגלי
ג – רש”י, מצודות, מלבי”ם
ד – רש”י
ה – רש”י, מלבי”ם, נר לרגלי
ו – רש”י, מצודות, מלבי”ם
ז – רש”י, רד”ק, מצודות
ח – אבן עזרא, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ט – רד”ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי, מוסד ה”ק
י – רש”י, רד”ק, מצודות
יא – רד”ק, מצודות, מלבי”ם
יב – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
יג – רש”י
יד – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
טו – רש”י, רד”ק, נר לרגלי
טז – רש”י, מצודות
יז – רד”ק, מצודות
יח – רש”י, רד”ק, מצודות