“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.” Psalm 83:1–3
I’ve never wanted anyone dead so I have a hard time relating to most of the content of Psalm eighty-three.
I guess I’ve led a sheltered life. I’ve never been in war. I’ve had friends in war but I’ve never had anyone I was personally dependent upon, or emotionally attached to, involved in war. I’ve never had anyone threaten my life or the lives of my family. I’ve never been held up and robbed or persistently bullied. I know there are people that have experienced all of these things and as a result they’ve wanted to exact revenge and teach their enemy a lesson, and I get their desire for justice and retribution, but I’ve never experienced it for myself so I guess there’s also part of me that doesn’t really get it.
But there’s a lesson in Psalm eighty-three for those like me who find it easy to go gently with oppressors and wrong doers and that’s that there’s a place, when it comes to justice, for harsh penalties and even the sentence of death.
There’s also a lesson for those who’ve tasted the most difficult of losses life in this sin filled world can bring. For those who’ve been one of the oppressed, who’ve experienced the worst of the injustices, and now want the scales to balance, want to see the wrong doers pay. The lesson you have to learn is that judgment and justice does not lie with any individual personally. Justice lies with God and with the governments he’s allowed to rise up.
Asaph realizes this so it’s to God that he comes with his burden of pain and injustice. It’s to God that he presents his request for vengeance. It’s with God that he places the burden of teaching the nations a lesson they won’t forget.
Its important also that we remember that one psalm alone doesn’t communicate all that God has in his heart for the wayward sons of the fallen Adam and Eve. Yes, at times there’s justice and vengeance, but there’s also justice and mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Because of this God may not respond when and how we would like him to. You see, we haven’t learn yet where justice and mercy truly begin and end. But God knows and we can rely on him to make the right decision and do what needs to be done.
So once again it comes down to faith and trust. Do we trust God with our deepest and most personal pain and our need for justice?