Vexation: When the Heart Struggles with Justice

Reading with the Pastor
Acts 7  and  Psalm 10-11

VexationAngry Baby

I struggle with both halves of Psalm 10. The first half (verses 1-11) lays out the wickedness of the oppression of the poor and the godlessness of a lifestyle that is driven purely by the profit motive, and the second half (verses 12-18), calls for the “breaking of the arm” (verse 15) of the evil-doer. I hate the wickedness of the first half and the harshness of the second. 

Of course, verse 15’s arm-breaking is a metaphor for power–break his power and ability to do his wickedness. Make the oppression the poor, come to an end. But that only ameliorates the harshness. It’s still there. And that is the rub. Justice is sometimes harsh. It has to be sometimes. 

And so we cry out with the psalm’s last three verses.

The Lord is king forever and ever;
      the nations perish from his land.
17 Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
      you will strengthen their heart;
.     you will incline your ear

18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
      so that man who is of the earth
.     may strike terror no more.

And sometimes, we respond with our own retelling of the struggle. Here’s another offering for THE POETRY PROJECT.

When The Poor are Despised

They say there is no God.
They are sure they won’t be judged.
They care only for themselves.
They want only to have more.

They exploit the poor, 
                        the weak, 
                        the desperate. 

They lay traps.
They devise thefts.
They curse.
They lie.
They oppress.
And then they walk away unbloodied.

They murder the innocent.
They plot their ambushes.
And then they do it again.

Why should they believe?
Why should they repent?
There are no consequences.
Why should they turn to You.
In their heart, the same refrain is repeated
Over and over and over and over again.
“There is no God.”

I have one plea.
Break his arm and call his wickedness to be accounted for.

Other posts on these psalms

Psalm 10   A Cry for Syria’s Children
Psalm 11   The Mockers are Loud

2 thoughts on “Vexation: When the Heart Struggles with Justice

  1. As we wrote on our blog 5 years ago, there are 2 sides of the coin of justice. Just punishment for the sins and outrages of the wicked is one side. The other side is that of recompense or making whole for the innocent victims. The sad fact is, the reality is, that there is a terrible shortage of both types of justice in this fallen or flawed world.

    Going off on a tangent, the religions of the world do not have very satisfying answers to the questions why is there so little justice”, or why do good people suffer?, or why is such evil allowed to continue?

    Liked by 1 person

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