who executes judgment for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. Psalm 146:7
Executes – Do we really believe God takes care of things for the oppressed? If we knew the Hebrew verb here (‘asah) is a verb that usually means a deliberate action with distinct purpose, would that change our expectations about God’s intervention? Perhaps it would be helpful to realize the oppressed in this verse are not the poor, the downtrodden or the wretched of the earth. In this verse, the root word is ‘ashaq. It means those who have been cheated or exploited or extorted. These people have been defrauded or abused, usually because someone in power took advantage of them. Do you know people who could be described as ‘ashooqim? I certainly do. Pensioners, investors, buyers, mortgage holders, lenders – the list is long. The psalmist tells us that God Himself will bring judgment upon the reprobates responsible for such abuse.
Do you believe that? Do you believe God will take deliberate action for the purpose of bringing judgment on those who defraud others? Of course, that doesn’t mean God will strike down the abusers with lightning bolts. But it does mean God will not allow them to act without consequence. David suggests God’s judgment is one reason why I can hope to God. God is not passive or impassible. He hears my cry and feels my anguish – and He does something about it. I move toward Him in prayer and outcry. He moves toward me in justice and mercy. Those who think they are getting away with it will encounter the God who protects and vindicates the righteous.
But do you really believe this?
It’s so easy to think I have to create my own lightning bolts to rectify things. It’s so easy to discount the invisible God. It’s so easy to take on the operation of judgment myself – “to get even.” The expression itself is Greek. “To get even” implies to set the balance back to zero, to make someone else carry the appropriate weight. But God doesn’t make things “even.” He makes things holy. Perhaps we need to reflect on the difference. Holiness doesn’t always imply a return to the previous distribution, but it always implies redeeming action that glorifies God. Is that what we are looking for?
I believe God executes justice. I believe fraud is a sin (it is, after all, a lie). I believe God is glorified when I take redemptive action on behalf of the oppressed. But I don’t know precisely what that means until I run to Him for guidance. And that implies movement over and over and over again until I meet Him on the road.
Let the journey to righteousness begin, Lord.
Topical Index: executes, oppressed, ‘asah, ‘ashaq, defraud, judgment, Psalm 146:7