But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads. Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it! Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad! May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak! With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death. (Psalm 109:21-31 ESV)
The psalmist describes himself as “poor and needy”, with a “stricken heart”, “gone like a shadow at evening”, “shaken off like a locust”. Because of his awful circumstance, even his body is in agony. While the exact source of his suffering is not known, he is journeying through this pain with the added difficulty of having accusers “wag their heads” at him. Instead of trying to help him and bless him, they speak nothing but curses toward him. While the psalmist wants relief from his suffering, he also wants his troublers to “get theirs.” This poor man wants relief – and justice!
God is always just, and always deals with evil. God is always merciful, and hears the cries of the suffering and pours our His compassion. How can God do both? Don’t even those crying out for mercy deserve God’s justice to be dealt out to them, for their own sins and mistreatment of others? Who among us can claim to always be the victim, and never the perpetrator? When we ask God to bring justice, don’t we really mean we want others to get what they deserve while we get what we don’t deserve – God’s compassion?
Jesus was the only Man ever to be perfect in how He treated people. He was the only “perfect” victim. Yet, as he suffered upon the cross, He did so to satisfy God’s justice toward sinful man by taking the judgment they deserved upon Himself. In doing so, He also offered God’s compassion, deliverance, and salvation to those who were suffering. For those of us forgiven by His grace and recipients of His blessing, may we “give thanks to the LORD” and “praise him in the midst of the throng.” Why not do so today?