One of the great human challenges from childhood to old age is handling injustice. From our earliest days we are quite adamant that justice be served. Watch any two year old react when a friend steals his favorite toy. He literally screams to anyone who will listen that a gross violation of the law has occurred.
While quite often our demands for “fairness and equity” are very self serving and small minded, there are times when egregious acts have been committed and the God ordained vehicles to care for justice are prejudiced, silent, or inept at bringing proper resolution to the matter. There are times when even the authorities are complicit in the malfescence against the weak and the poor, and the victims seemingly have no recourse for justice.
Such was the situation for David in Psalm 31. He was marked by enemies and abandoned by his trusted friends. Some had even actively joined forces with those who sought his demise. David draw great hope for God to be a refuge for him by reviewing God’s past care for Him, as well as appealing to God’s personal character, His righteousness (v1), His loyalty (5), His covenant love (7). These truths about God form the basis for David’s hope and interpretation of the difficulty that he faced.
Another part of David’s confidence stems from his belief that God is holy and just to the wicked, even if that justice is not seen in this lifetime. The proud are certainly opposed to God’s rule and live to make life difficult for the humble through lies, intimidation, and devious plans (4, 8, 11, 18).
By faith, David believes that God will not only protect and deliver him, but eventually humble the proud (23). He begins the song confessing that God is His security (1), thanking God for past aid under duress (22). He then sprinkles his prayer with appeals for God to take care of the oppressor. At first glance this might sound harsh, but it moves David from the position of God’s executioner and allows God to be the righteous and just judge.
There are two reasons for this God centered approach. The humble man knows he himself is deserving of God’s just war against sin and has himself fallen on the mercy of heaven, mercy and forgiveness available and offered freely through the blood of Calvary.
Think for a moment of the relief to be found when instead of assuming the position of the one who needs to carry out justice and turning slights, injustices, outright personal attacks we turn them over to the authority and care of God. Committing one’s reputation and safety to God is not a casual, passive, affair, but takes great energy and effort.
Trusting God doesn’t suggest we intentionally put ourselves in harm’s way or allow for ongoing physical abuse. There are God given authorities to address these matters, but even these authorities are limited and often flawed. Fighting the temptation to slide toward bitterness, sinful wrath and explosive anger, most certainly requires the divine enablement and power of God’s Spirit. This doesn’t suggest we ought to become causal and dismissive of potential harm and personal attacks, but we battle for joy in the middle of trouble with new weaponry, and committing our soul to the perfect, wise judge.