May 8: Psalm 94
Cry for the Lord’s vengeance and vindication
87.87 D Hyfrydol (Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus), p. 169
Ebenezer (O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus)
Ode to Joy (Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee), p. 159
God of vengeance, O Jehovah; God of vengeance, O shine forth!
Rise up, O You Judge of Nations! Render to the proud their worth.
O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked boast?
Arrogant the words they pour out, evil men, a taunting host.
They, Jehovah, crush Your people and Your heritage distress;
They kill immigrants and widows, murder they the fatherless.
And they say, “Jehovah sees not; Jacob’s God does not have eyes.”
Understand, O foolish people! When, O fools, will you be wise?
Who the ear made, does He hear not? Who formed eyes, does He not see?
Who warns nations, does He smite not? Who men teaches, knows not He?
All the thoughts of men the Lord sees, knows that but a breath are they.
Bless’d the man whom You chastise, Lord, whom You teach to know Your Way.
Give him rest from days of trouble, till the wicked be o’erthrown.
Our Lord will not leave His people, will abandon not His own.
When to every verdict given justice shall come back again,
Everyone whose heart is upright will see righteous judgment then.
Who for me withstands the wicked? Who against wrong pleads for me?
If the Lord were not my helper, soon my soul would silent be.
If I say, “My foot is slipping!” Lord, Your mercy will uphold.
When my anxious thoughts are many, how Your comforts cheer my soul!
Can corrupted rulers join You who by laws do misery build?
They conspire against the righteous, sentence just ones to be killed.
But the Lord is still my stronghold; God, my Refuge, will repay,
He’ll for sin wipe out the wicked; them the Lord our God will slay.
God’s avenging justice with respect to the misdeeds of history is directed against humanity’s specified acts of injustice, some of which are enumerated in this psalm. It is common nowadays to imagine that the final divine avenging of the persecuted righteous is simply an “Old Testament idea,” whose time is now past in our New Tesatment dispensation . This is not true; God’s resolve seems really quite unaltered from one testament to the next with respect to “vengeance.” If the Lord did, somewhere along the line, modify His views about the propriety of executing vengeance on the earth, He failed to share the news with the Apostle John, for the latter mentions a “voice from heaven” proclaiming of Babylon: “Her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities…” Indeed, God “has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her” (Rev. 18:5-6 and 19:2). We have a native sense of moral truth, a truth fixed eternally in the structure of reality, that gives us a fundamental hope. It is this moral hope that tells us we are more than the animals, for an animal cannot reflect on the moral structure of the world. Among the final articles of the Nicene Creed we affirm that God is discriminating: “He will come again in glory to judge.” If this assertion were not true, the rest of the Creed would be worthless, for this assertion proclaims the vindication of our moral sense, the innate source of our hope. According to our psalm, it is this hope that God finally justifies. “The Lord has become my refuge,” we pray near the end, “and my God the helper of my hope.” (Reardon, p. 185-186)