“Arise, LORD, in your anger,” “a God who displays his wrath every day,” “he makes ready his flaming arrows.” You might not expect to find those words in the Bible. Yet, they are the words of David when his enemies pursued his life for unjust reasons. (Psalm 7)
Might you hear those words differently, if you were someone like Mariamma. Mariamma was enslaved in a brick making factory in Bangalore, India. Previously she worked in a factory as a free employee. The work was hard, but it provided for her family. Then one day a man named Mr. V promised Mariamma a better job. Mr. V offered Mariamma an advance to cover the costs of moving. When she got there nothing was as promised. Mr. V said she owed him money from the move, paid her at his discretion, and insisted that she buy all her food from him. Mr. V refused to let any of his workers work elsewhere. He hired a gang of thugs to periodically beat one of them as a warning to deter them from running away.
People all over the world find themselves in brutally unjust situations like Mariamma. Think of the young black man treated differently because of the color of his skin, the poor boy called into the principal’s office and treated based on the merits of his troublesome cousins instead of his own, or the sexually assaulted woman whom no one believes.
God’s justice ranks just as important as his love. Take God’s justice away and how could he be loving? Would you call a judge who simply let Mr. V off the hook loving? The biblical theme of justice means giving each their due. It starts with giving God his due by adoring and worshipping him and follows through with giving each person their due.
When the world gives someone no recourse for the injustice they face, it is perfectly legitimate – if not preferred – to cry to God to execute his justice. When the powers of the world will not act, our options are limited. We could take justice into our own hands, which only compounds the problem. We could pretend nothing happened, which is equally grievous. In this Psalm, David cries out to God to execute justice, even as he awaits a more immediate act of justice on earth. The words quoted above would sound like a song of victory for someone like Mariamma. They should be for us too. Who would want a God whose love excludes justice?