Today I want to look closer at Psalm 94.
This psalm is a little different than the ones we have focused on in the past 32 days. This psalm is known as an “imprecatory” psalm. Imprecatory psalms are psalms, or prayers, of the psalmist, asking God to judge or curse their enemies, also referred to as “the wicked.”
We struggle sometimes, when we come to a psalm like this, because we know that Jesus told us to “love our enemies.” (as seen in Matthew 5:44). So, when we come to a psalm where the psalmist is actually asking God to judge or curse an enemy, we struggle to see consistency in this.
I want us to walk through how to rightly view injustice. In this psalm that is what is happening. The wicked aren’t just people who said something bad about the psalmist; they aren’t just being mean to him. The psalmist says they, “pour out arrogant words, and boast in what they do…they crush God’s people, they kill the widow and murder orphans, and they say that God does not see or understand.” (verses 5-7).
All throughout God’s word it says that those who call themselves children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, are to care for the widow and the orphan. In Exodus, Job, Lamentations, Proverbs, the Psalms, Matthew, James, etc. etc. We see that God has a heart for the orphans and the widows. God is a God to the helpless, to the poor, and lonely.
So when the Psalmist says that his enemies are crushing the nation of Israel and killing orphans and widows, he is saying that the enemy is in direct rebellion against God, and they mock God, saying that, “God does not see or perceive.” These are wicked people. So, yes the psalmist is calling out to God for him to judge the wicked for their wrong doings.
That is the key in how we reason out injustice in the world and how we deal with it. There is injustice all over the world: human trafficking, sex slavery, the rich taking advantage of the poor in sweat shops, racial injustices, slavery, and the list goes on and on. And we, as followers of Jesus Christ, should be broken and angry about injustices in the world. We should HATE sin and evil in the world. But, in the words of the apostle Paul, we should, “be angry and do not sin.”(Ephesians 4:26) We should have a righteous anger towards sin and injustice in the world.
So then what? What do we do? How should we respond? I want to notice two things in in this psalm. The first, is that as the “victim” of injustice, the psalmist says, “blessed is the man whom you discipline, O lord and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble until a pit is dug for the wicked.” (verses 12-13).
The psalmist in this passage of scripture is on the receiving end of injustice from the wicked, but he turns it into a blessing by recognizing that God is in control and that the outcome of wicked will be more severe than the physical suffering he is facing. For the wicked will be judged for an eternity, and the righteous, God will not abandon, and he will return justice to the righteous. (verses 13-15).
So, when we suffer an injustice, we know that God can, and will, ultimately use it for our good and for His glory. This is the promise that He makes to us.
The second thing we need to see is that the psalmist is calling out to God to take vengeance on the wicked. He is not repaying evil for evil, but calling on a just and righteous judge to judge the wicked. You see, ultimately, vengeance is the Lord’s and we will see God’s judgement come. We may not understand injustices in the world, but we know God is righteous and just and we will one day not only say, “Oh I see” but we will bow down and worship, for only God is truly righteous and just.
The last thing I want us to understand is that the cross of Christ is God’s righteousness and grace displayed all at one time. We become self-righteous when an injustice is done toward us and we want vengeance and judgment when the injustice is done toward us, but we cry out for grace when we have done something unjust toward someone else. The cross of Jesus Christ wipes away all of our self-righteousness and He becomes the arbiter of grace and justice. In one act, He has judged sinners and forgiven sinners. He bore the wrath of all sin and injustice, and offered free grace to those who trust in Him.
We must pray for those who are victims of injustice, fight for them, be a voice for them, pray that God would judge their oppressors, and free them. We must also share the good news of salvation with them. That way, they have a hope in a good and a righteous God who loves them, and who can deliver them!
May we be a church who fights against injustice in this world; who cares for the orphan and the widows, who points them to the Father of the fatherless and who is close to the lonely, who frees the oppressed. And may we pray for our enemies, that they would turn from their wickedness and find freedom and forgiveness from sin.