Thursday, October 11, 2018

Their Next Million

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, and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
Understand, O dullest of the people; fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, he who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise?
The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath.
Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
 
Ps 94:1-13  
My 21st century spirituality is repelled by the idea of praying to a God of vengeance. But the psalmist is praying to just such a God, and probably for good reason. The proud spoken of in this psalm are crushers of God's people, killers of widows and foreigners, and murderers of orphans. Is it really such a horrible thing to pray that God would act to end such oppression? Moreover, it is God's perceived inaction which these killers think gives them license to act as they do, for they think God incapable of even knowing what's up in the world, let alone doing anything to end injustice.

I can't speak for what was in the psalmist's mind when she or he wrote these words, but by the end of the psalm, I wonder if I, too, am among the guilty. For I also have known God's discipline, even as I have received relief from the hand of the Almighty. I don't know when a pit will be dug for the wicked, but I hope not to be accounted among them. And so I am called back to vv 5-7 and reminded that if I would work on behalf of the people of God, I must place first among them the widow, the stranger, and the orphan—those who are most vulnerable to the proud when they look for where their next million is coming from.
Leonardo dicaprio • Leo dicaprio • the great Gatsby 
Give me words to vent my anger, Lord, when I see oppression. But more importantly, give me courage to speak up on their behalf to those in power, and strength to help them; in Jesus' Name who taught me to pray...