“O Lord, the God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth! Arise, O Judge of the earth.
Give the proud what they deserve.
How long, O Lord?
How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat?
How long will they speak with arrogance?
How long will these evil people boast?
They crush your people, Lord,
hurting those you claim as your own.
They kill widows and foreigners
and murder orphans.
“The Lord isn’t looking,” they say,
“and besides, the God of Israel doesn’t care.””
Psalms 94:1-7 NLT
Is that really true? That God is a God of vengeance? Surely not – aren’t we taught that God is a God of love? Doesn’t His grace cover over all our sins? Sadly, there have been many people shipwrecked on a wrong view of God. Yes, He is a God of love and grace, but He is also a God of righteousness and justice. I’m sure that if more people realised what was coming down the track towards them on Judgement Day, they would change trains and get on the right track. But it is a frustration for God’s people, for you and me, that so much injustice is allowed to fester away in our nations. So many people break the laws, including God’s laws, in our societies, committing all sorts of heinous crimes. And because they apparently get away with such behaviour, escaping a lightning bolt from Heaven in the process, they think that God never noticed, let alone the authorities. Gloating, arrogance, and boasting are attributes often seen in the lawbreakers.
The Psalmist goes on to describe three categories of people – widows, foreigners and orphans. Those in his society least able to protect themselves. Today the same message rings out – there are social groupings today that are oppressed and undervalued in our societies. But the mention of “foreigners” is interesting. In British society today there is a growing anger about the scale of illegal immigration. We need to perhaps remember that Jesus was an economic migrant soon after he was born, when His earthly parents escaped to Egypt, getting away from King Herod’s murderous clutches. In the next village to me there is a Bulgarian couple that I sometimes meet when they are walking their dog. They have a very poor grasp of English, but I have managed to get across a welcoming message and soon I hope to share the love of God with them. I don’t know why they are in Scotland – perhaps I’ll find out one day – but they come into the category of “foreigners”. People from other lands and nations, from other ethnic groups, “foreigners”, get a special mention in Psalm 94.
But one thing certainly isn’t true about God, that He doesn’t care about the wicked behaviour of evil people. He just bides His time, in His grace and mercy giving plenty of opportunities for evil to be turned into good. And His people – you and me – mustn’t forget that we are the dispensers of His message of love and grace even to those who are the evil ones in our societies. Religious people will tut away in front of their TV screens as the newsreels roll, as they show yet another act of atrocity. But if the “religious” tag includes us then we need to turn tutting into praying, inaction into action, praying for our governments and societies, for those creating such mayhem, pushing back the tides of evil wherever and whenever we can. Oh – don’t forget we can help the disadvantaged in our societies as well – we just need to look out for them.