We're living Psalm 94 - but need to reach Psalm 95

The current global uprising against police brutality and racism, ignited most recently by the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis May 25, is sobering. It is sobering that unarmed Americans can die at the hands of their own police force, who are sworn to serve and protect them. It is sobering that this abuse of power resonates so strongly in so many countries of the world. And it is sobering that until now, very little has changed – for blacks in America, for blacks and indigenous people in Canada, and for other oppressed people around the world.

When I read the Bible this week and turned to Psalm 94, the cry for justice written millenia ago sounded like this week's prayers. We need to move forward as humanity to Psalm 95, a song praising the God of our salvation. It seems so remote right now, but the very extent of the outrage is what gives me hope. If we can channel our anger at the abuse of power into the will to check oppressive power – if we rid ourselves and our own spheres of influence from racism, sexism, classism, and all other superficial divisions between people – if we accept nothing less than the inviolable right to life from our politicians, and accountability from our leaders and civil servants – eventually, we will succeed.

Our religious teachings can lead us. The law of love can lead us. The innate knowledge that every person is sacred, and precious, and as valuable and worthy of every support and necessity of life as we are, can lead us. When we live this out, and accept nothing less in our institutions, and laws, and lands, we will finally know peace – the peace of knowing that one's life isn't at stake due to violence, that policemen and politicians will help us instead of hurt us, that we are accepted and safe at home, on the streets, at school, at work, everywhere. Then we will know that we truly are brothers and sisters in the one global family.

I cannot wait for that day.

My name is Carole, and I'm your sister.

 

Psalm 94, The Bible

1 O Lord, God of [a]vengeance,
God of [b]vengeance, [c]shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
Render recompense to the proud.
How long shall the wicked, O Lord,
How long shall the wicked exult?
They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly;
All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.
They crush Your people, O Lord,
And afflict Your heritage.
They slay the widow and the [d]stranger
And murder the orphans.
They have said, “[e]The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”

Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
And when will you understand, stupid ones?
He who planted the ear, [f]does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, [g]does He not see?
10 He who [h]chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,
Even He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
[i]That they are a mere breath.

12 Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O [j]Lord,
And whom You teach out of Your law;
13 That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity,
Until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not abandon His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15 For [k]judgment [l]will again be righteous,
And all the upright in heart [m]will follow it.
16 Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?

17 If the Lord had not been my help,
My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
18 If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 When my anxious thoughts [n]multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
20 Can a [o]throne of destruction be allied with You,
One which devises [p]mischief by decree?
21 They band themselves together against the [q]life of the righteous
And condemn [r]the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has been my stronghold,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought back their wickedness upon them
And will [s]destroy them in their evil;
The Lord our God will [t]destroy them.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 94:1 Or avenging acts
  2. Psalm 94:1 Or avenging acts
  3. Psalm 94:1 Or has shone forth
  4. Psalm 94:6 Or sojourner
  5. Psalm 94:7 Heb Yah
  6. Psalm 94:9 Or can
  7. Psalm 94:9 Or can
  8. Psalm 94:10 Or instructs
  9. Psalm 94:11 Or For
  10. Psalm 94:12 Heb Yah
  11. Psalm 94:15 I.e. administration of justice
  12. Psalm 94:15 Lit will return to righteousness
  13. Psalm 94:15 Lit will be after it
  14. Psalm 94:19 Or are many
  15. Psalm 94:20 Or tribunal
  16. Psalm 94:20 Or trouble, misfortune
  17. Psalm 94:21 Or soul
  18. Psalm 94:21 Lit innocent blood
  19. Psalm 94:23 Or silence
  20. Psalm 94:23 Or silence