by: Denise Robinson
Oftentimes we see or experience injustice and we want God to just step in and make it right; sometimes, though, we want God to do more than that, we want vengeance. Israel has experienced, in its history, times when crying out for vengeance seemed appropriate. When today's psalm was written, Israel was besieged by the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. Both northern and southern Israel were conquered, with disastrous consequences. Think, in more recent times, of the Holocaust. Listen to the words of this psalm. Do the words resonate with you? How do they make you feel?
O Lord, you God of vengeance, you God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; give to the proud what they deserve! O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O Lord .. They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, "The Lord does not see...." Understand, O dullest of the people; fools, when will you be wise? .. He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise? The Lord knows our thoughts .. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, "My foot is slipping," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul .. the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will repay them .. and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out. (Ps. 94)
Strong words from someone suffering pain. Is God a God of vengeance? Remember that Jesus said to love, but he also drove the moneychangers out of the Temple and had some very harsh words for those who oppressed others. Israel remains a nation today. What happened to all those empires of the past (Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Rome)? We also know there is a time of judgment yet to come. God may not act as quickly against injustice as we would hope, but God does, and will, act. Perhaps God allows time to see if we, as Christians, will stand up for justice and do our part to rise up against the wicked. What do you think?
Prayer: God, just like the psalmist we call out to you for vengeance against the wicked and evildoers and cry out to you for justice. Our world today is suffering. It seems that people are being crushed just because they are poor or different or voiceless. But just as we ask you to intercede and to act, so help us to find the strength to do our part. We are not blameless. Forgive us and empower us to do what is right. You are our rock and our strength. Amen.