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(Click or hover over the above Scripture reference link to read the passage.)
If you missed the Psalm 9 devotional from yesterday, “God of the Oppressed,” you’ll definitely want to read it as the prequel to Psalm 10 today. Psalm 10 continues beating God’s drum of justice loudly and in continuity with Psalm 9. God will often repeat themes in Scripture to emphasize them, to make sure we really see them and obey them. This time, the theme is his heart for justice and the oppressed.
In Psalm 9, the psalmist cried out to God to help the oppressed in what felt like a general, blanket-statement way. In Psalm 10, he pulls out his microscope and spends almost the entire psalm crying out on behalf of one very specific instance of oppression. Like many of the psalms thus far, Psalm 10 throws wrenches into our preconceived beliefs about how God is supposed to work within our health and wealth version of Western Christianity (both the blatant and subtle varieties).
Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
When’s the last time you heard that in a sermon about the formula of prayer?
The next 12 verses are about a vicious tyrant who hates God, is vile and wicked, is prosperous, and preys on innocent victims.
Verse 14 turns us back toward hope and back toward the heart of God. A God who cares for the oppressed. God sees the trouble of the afflicted. He takes their grief in his hand. He is the helper of the fatherless. The psalmist prays that he will break the arm of the wicked man.
Only God knows why he sometimes answers these prayers in the moment and other times, like with the Hebrews’ enslavement in Egypt, or blacks’ enslavement in the United States, it takes centuries. But the psalmist rests in the truth that God is King for ever and ever and that these wicked nations will perish from the land. God is more powerful than the wicked nations who oppress and enslave and exploit. He was more powerful than Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Rome (not to mention, ancient Israel). And he’s certainly more powerful than the United States and the rest of today’s world powers.
He hears the desire of the afflicted. He encourages them. He listens to their cry. He defends the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror. We need to take this in. That the God of the universe cares about the oppressed!
This is a psalm about justice. Verses 2-18 cannot be applied any other way. This is not a psalm about bad things happening in a fallen world. It’s not a psalm about getting cancer or not being able to get pregnant. Those things are traumatic. We mourn and lament them and there are other passages of scripture that speak directly to that type of pain. But it’s important to not let those examples distract us from the message of this psalm. This psalm is about injustice! It is about powerful people willfully abusing their power to harm the vulnerable. We cannot miss that.
Our God cares about justice! Justice, earthly, physical, justice, is an essential part of Christian, biblical theology. It’s as essential as the Trinity. It’s as essential as sex being within marriage alone between a man and a woman. It’s as essential as church attendance or Bible study. I’m not advocating for a hierarchy here, my point is that justice is essential to God. It is all over the Bible and is a direct command, yet is rarely talked about in evangelical churches today, unlike these other examples I listed. Or if you do talk about it, people call you political or say you are replacing the gospel with it. Satan is winning in this area by a landslide and it’s time to reclaim God’s heart and truth. Not to replace any other theology, but to be right alongside of them as we seek to obey God’s commands as his followers.
Prayer for the day: God help the oppressed. Help the fatherless! Help me. Help me to help those who are oppressed. Help me to be your hands and feet, Jesus. Help me to hear your voice despite the Western Church being mute when it comes to justice. Bring the Western Church to repentance for its idolatry of its own prosperity and comfort. Bring us back to the Bible and your commands for justice. Let us put you above our politics. Let us worship you Jesus and not our politicians and political parties. Let us listen to your word and your Spirit. Thank you that your heart is for the weak and powerless. Our world is full of oppression, God please bring your freedom. Raise up your church to bring your freedom.
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- Ep. 55: Conversation with Co-Host Chase Stancle about Gentrification and Redlining - September 23, 2021
- Ep. 54: What has God put on your heart to do? - September 12, 2021
- Psalm 45 Devotional – Jesus the King and Husband - September 12, 2021