To Overcome the Unjust

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This lament is familiar to my heart and soul. I am guessing that it is familiar to all of you as well. We have often wished, like the psalmist does here, for the ability to fly away from all of our present troubles, as well as those of the world that we are overwhelmed by in the daily news reports. We have cried out like the psalmist:

ʺI say, O that I had wings like a dove,
To fly away and be at rest!
I would indeed escape far away,
And take refuge in the desert.
I shall await him who saves me
From the raging wind and tempest.ʺ Ps. 55: 7-9

If you are like me, I suspect you have felt like this a lot lately. The horrors that are happening all around the world and in our own country are mind-boggling. These pile up in our minds and trouble our sensibilities. They pile up on top of our own immediate and personal worries, great and small. This psalm tells us that this sense of dread, this desire to escape the world, to remove oneself from the pain of it all, was as real all those centuries ago as it is now in our own time. Like the psalmist, ʺour hearts pound within us, deaths terrors fall upon us. Fear and trembling overwhelm us; shuddering sweeps over us.ʺ (Ps. 55: 5-6)

But we must hear the rest of what the psalmist writes too, for if we listen only to the lamentations we miss the greater point. What is that greater point? We are not alone. Even though we are crowded round with problems and with enemies of all kinds, we can do as the psalmist does here:

ʺBut I will call on God,
And the Lord will save me.
At dusk, dawn, and noon
I will grieve and complain,
And my prayer will be heard.
He will redeem my soul in peace
From those who war against me,
Though they are many who oppose me.
God, who sits enthroned forever, will hear me…ʺ (Ps. 55: 17-20)

The psalmist tells us something else that is even more important here as well. We need not turn to anger or revenge on our own part to get justice for those who unjustly, immorally, and pridefully cause the suffering in this world. They will bring the true and righteous justice of God down upon themselves.

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ʺ[God] will afflict them,
For they will not mend their ways;
They have no fear of God.ʺ (Ps. 55: 20-21)

Those who are the source of our unjust sufferings that bring suffering to the innocent around the world, often try to disguise their truest nature. They promise goodness and peace, sometimes even saying they do so on behalf of God, but:

ʺSofter than butter is [their] speech,
But war is in [their] hearts.
Smoother than oil are [their] words,
But they are unsheathed swords.ʺ (Ps. 55: 22)

Again, like the psalmist, we can fall back on our faith and believe that nothing goes unnoticed by God, neither the good, nor the bad. We can, therefore:

ʺCast [our] care upon the Lord,
Who will give [us] support.
He will never allow
The righteous to stumble,
But you, God, will bring [the unrighteous] down
To the pit of destruction.
These bloodthirsty liars
Will not live half their days,
But I will put my trust in you.ʺ (Ps. 55: 23-24)

If we remain faithful to God, who is always faithful to us, we will be able to endure and to overcome the unjust suffering that comes our way. He will faithfully answer our prayers. He will hear our petitions and give us the peace our hearts, minds, and souls desire. Only he can do this. Where men and women can, and often will, betray our trust, betray our rights to live in peace, God will always be our faithful supporter. He will never deny us the sanctuary of his love. We can always fly to him on the wings of prayer. He will offer us sanctuary and give us the peace we so desperately desire, even in the midst of our troubles. Only his sanctuary is holy, and only his peace is true and eternal.

So, let us believe that when we say in our troubles, ʺListen, God, to my prayer; do not hide from my pleading;
hear me and give me answer.ʺ (Ps. 55: 2-3), that he will indeed answer our prayers. He is always on the side of the oppressed. Those who suffer the injustices of the wicked need not concern themselves with getting justice in return. Such thoughts are themselves unrighteous. Leave vengeance to God. For God’s justice toward the oppressor will always be righteous and true. Pray only for God’s peace, with a humble and pure heart, and it will be granted to you unconditionally. Amen.


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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.