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God's call for justice

October 4, 2022

Daily Scripture

Psalm 82:1-4

1 God takes his stand in the divine council;
he gives judgment among the gods:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
by granting favor to the wicked?
3 Give justice to the lowly and the orphan;
maintain the right of the poor and the destitute!
4 Rescue the lowly and the needy.
Deliver them from the power of the wicked!


Daily Reflection & Prayer

Hebrews used some ideas from neighboring nations, like that of a council of gods. But Israel said the one true God presided with angels or heavenly spirits as lesser (cf. also Job 1:6). To tell an Israelite orphan or widow “God helps those who help themselves” would have made no sense. With no legal or social status, and no powerful male on their side, those widows or orphans had no way to “help themselves.” Psalm 82 made it clear that God cared strongly about helping those who were helpless.

  • Psalm 82 represented a whole strand of Israelite worship. For example, Psalm 146:9 sang the praises of “The LORD: who protects immigrants, who helps orphans and widows.” But God usually acts through people, through us, to accomplish divine purposes. In what ways, big and small, can you partner with God in carrying out God’s wish for justice and rescue to take place on earth?
  • In what parts of life do the words of Psalm 82 speak most clearly to your heart: “Give justice to the lowly and the orphan; maintain the right of the poor and the destitute! Rescue the lowly and the needy. Deliver them from the power of the wicked”? Has there ever been a time when you found help and freedom from a situation in which you felt helpless? For whom can you be God’s instrument to help those who cannot help themselves?

Lord God, I trust you to be my help and my strength, even when all else fails me. Use me as one of your instruments to bring justice to your world. Amen

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Picture of  Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon when news breaks of a major abuse of power. When news stories like this hit, there’s this wave of reactions, and various people fall somewhere on the spectrum. The first is disbelief—of course it’s not what it looks like. It’s not as bad as they’re saying, and it’s probably being misinterpreted. Then justification—if he did this, he probably had a very good reason to. The victim is no angel. Lastly, and many never make it to this step, is acceptance, but even that can be a rocky road. Sometimes rather than admit that someone we once regarded highly did something wrong, we write them off as one of the bad ones, who abused power, but not a system that allowed for it and, in many cases, works to protect the perpetrator of the abuse.

I read somewhere that one of the big things that separates humankind from animals is our sense of equality and justice. Rather than see the world as one of pure survival and strength, most of us have a conception of the world as it should be: a place where everyone has an equal chance at a happy life, where everyone is treated fairly regardless of who they are and what characteristics they possess. We have this innate sense of how things should be; where we can struggle is in seeing the gap between this ideal and the world as it exists today.

We react with disbelief and justification when we see injustice because, too often, we believe that the world is innately fair and just. We believe that the systems we have in place to protect us will equally protect everyone, and if something terrible happens, it’s not because of a flaw in the system—it’s one or two bad actors that have done things wrong. There’s significant comfort in this idea; but, as an idea, this is largely a byproduct of our modern American culture rather than Biblical ideals.

Justice—and injustice—are among the biggest themes in the Bible, popping up over and over in both the Old and New testaments. Why would the Psalmist tell us to give justice to the lowly and the orphan if justice already existed for them? Why else would they ask believers to rescue and deliver the lowly and needy from the power of the wicked? Passages like today’s, and countless others in the Bible, are a reminder that systemic injustices have always existed, and will likely always be a problem.

If injustice has never been a problem in your life, that’s great! But we can’t deduce from that that injustice is not a problem. If injustice has never been a problem in your life, justice exists for you. There’s a feeling of security that comes along with that; many people in this world do not experience that feeling. Accepting that others may face troubles you never have, not because of their choices but because of being born who they are—that’s an extremely uncomfortable thing for many of us, because it shatters our notion of a world that is innately fair and just for everyone. But as we see throughout the Bible, injustice, and its integration into human-created systems, is an enduring human problem that was never solved in the history of the writing of the Bible. Scripture is clear that justice, particularly social justice, is one of the highest concerns for followers of God, and that remains just as true today as it was in the Psalmist’s time.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.