The Psalter of Jesus: From Vengeance to Forgiveness // Psalm 94

Unmitigated compassion is possible only because God bears the pain of vengeance in his own person.
— Walter Brueggemann

The desire for vengeance in the face of injustice is an undeniable part of the human experience. And this desire reflects the divine. God himself desires vengeance and has every right to carry it out. But God is also merciful -- so merciful that he ultimately absorbs his desire for vengeance into his very person. That's the cross. That's forgiveness. Yet the road to forgiveness is not short. It winds through that swampy longing for vengeance. In fact, unless a person is willing to admit their longing for vengeance and give voice to it, they cannot make their way to forgiveness. The Psalms of vengeance are God's provision for anyone who has experienced injustice -- and that's all of us. He invites us to pray these Psalms and give voice to our vengeful longings so that we might begin walking the same long road to forgiveness that he did before us. He invites us to stop pretending that we are more gracious than him and instead simply follow his Son to the cross.


CALL TO WORSHIP

The Lord is my stronghold—the rock of my refuge.
In Him, we will put our trust.

Though my foot slips, my God will keep me from falling.
A strong tower is our God.

Rejoice! For the Lord is just, and His law is perfect.
He brings blessings on those who do His will.

The unrighteous say, “He does not care about evildoing.”
Yet He who made the eye sees. He who made the ear hears.

The Lord will not forsake His people.
Come, Lord Jesus. We wait for you.
 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Heavenly Father, you have taught us that you are not blind to the evil of this world. Yet we cry out,
“be not silent, O God of my praise!”

We don't trust your purposes and desire to see our ideas of justice played out before us.
Forgive our impatience, Lord.

When we feel scorned and taken advantage of we cry out,
“because Your steadfast love is good, please deliver me.”

Yet we act selfishly and work to further only our ends.
Forgive our hypocrisy, Lord.

In moments of injustice in our city, our country, and our world we cry,
“God of vengeance, shine forth!”

Yet we do little to care for the oppressed and those in pain.
Forgive our selfishness and fear, Lord.

O Lord, we are poor and needy. Our hearts are stricken. Blessed are those whom you discipline.
Humble us Father. Teach us to do your will.

The thoughts of mankind are merely a breath, yet you still regard our prayers and call us beloved.
Lord, You are good. Though we deserve death, you give us your Son. Amen.