‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ [vs.1]

that is how this psalm starts and it reminds me of that old – ‘if there is a huge distance between you and God, guess who moved?’ – which in some dimensions might be a cheesy christian car bumper sticker, but actually there is a lot of truth to it and i am reminded of a couple of verses instantly:

‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ [psalm 34.18]

‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ [psalm 23.4]

‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” [deuteronomy 31.6, repeated in hebrews 13.5]

and then this conversation between Moses and God in Exodus 33:

‘Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”’ [vs. 12-17]

Again, the psalmist is just speaking his heart when he cries [because i get the strong impression it’s a cry or a wail]: ‘Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’ [vs.1]

Whereas God has promised again and again that He will be there. He won’t necessarily remove bad times [which is why we end up feeling like He is not present] but He has promised to be near when they strike: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ [Romans 8.28]

And once more the psalmist ends at the point of realising this and pointing it out for himself – the undeniable strains of the character of God revealed in ways like this: ‘The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.’ [psalm 10.16-18]