Wednesday 18 August, 2021

Psalm 58

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. 1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity? 2 No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth. 3 Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies. 4 Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, 5 that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be. 6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions! 7 Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short. 8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun. 9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns— whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away. 10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

From many years being involved in the criminal justice system, I have seen a huge range of expectations of what justice should look like, as well as many changes to community expectations of justice. To some it is a conviction, to others simply being heard is all they want to feel a sense of justice. Otherwise, it may be that only a lengthy sentence will suffice, or simply an acknowledgement of harm done is enough. Unfortunately, sometimes pursuits for justice can also cripple lives.

We all have an innate desire for moral justice, that wrong should be punished and those responsible held to account.

Justice is central to the heart of God because he is holy, that is, without sin. Sin is everything contrary to the nature of God. That we have this innate desire is a sign we are created in God’s image, wanting what our Lord wants.

Many people don’t respond well to the idea of God as judge (v 11), mistaking God for a mean figure only ready to punish, devoid of mercy. However, the great news of the gospel shows us the beautiful, compassionate and merciful heart of God. His love is shown in Jesus’ death in our place.  Jesus has established justice on the earth through his life and death – Isaiah 42 v 4. That is because he has brought salvation to all who trust in him but also has shown us the way to live justly. Jesus, the servant, showed love and compassion to outcasts and sinners, healed the sick, but also called out hypocrisy. He cared for those who everyone despised.

God has challenged me about whether I am living justly in his image. Am I showing his love to the forgotten and unwanted? Is my life clouded by hypocrisy?

Dear Lord, these difficult times can make me turn inwards to find strength and forget to speak out for your justice. This week please show me opportunities to show your love and compassion to others, to challenge me out of my position of comfort to show people your heart of mercy. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

4 replies
  1. Richard says:

    Claire – thanks for your reflection – it is so personal, inspiring and challenging all in one!

    Here are a few thoughts from our SOAP gathering this morning.

    Vs 10 stands out to me as it reminds me that those who love what is right, true, correct long for justice and rejoice when they see it. This verse centres on this longing and rejoicing when justice is seen when we see God at work as judge. This is not a rejoicing at someone’s pain but at the resolve justice brings, the release justice brings, the satisfaction that justice is brought to a situation. I am also reminded that God is the judge, the ultimate judge. And who better to be that judge – but the One who knows all things and who is compassionate and kind and this is why He is the judge because He only knows how to judge fairly.

  2. Sue says:

    Thank you Claire
    We judge through the eyes of our upbringing.
    We judge through the eyes of our heritage
    We judge through our eyes of religion

    However When Jesus breaks our hearts for what breaks His – when our hearts become more broken for Jesus’ kingdom, we can judge (not perfectly though at times) like Him.

    Oh my heart longs for His Kingdom Come, His will be Done.

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