Oppression of the Weak in this world almost seems like a global sport. If you’re like me, you feel like it’s worse than ever. But is it? Oppression of the weak isn’t new. It’s been around for as long as there’ve been people.
The adjacent image says, “We are truly sorry”.
And you know, sometimes that’s pretty much what the oppressors say. Especially when they’re elected government officials.
But, you know what? They generally aren’t sorry.
Oppression is often about power. Greed. Stuff like that.
Those are the emotions that are front and center with oppressors.
Emotions like sorrow just aren’t generally there. Or aren’t acknowledged if they do exist.
This one’s about someone who’s not all that oppressed, Not all the time anyway.
Plus, it’s about my feelings. Someone who’s oppressed sometimes, but is also very aware that a whole lot of people have it much worse.
That’s what Psalm 12 is about. Written by David, whose life ranged from shepherd, the bottom of the social barrel – to the King of Israel.
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David. Ps 12:1 Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Ps 12:2 Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. Ps 12:3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue Ps 12:4 that says, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips—who is our master?” Ps 12:5 “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” Ps 12:6 And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. Ps 12:7 O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever. Ps 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
Some background on Psalm 12
Words are both our glory and our shame.
The psalm begins by describing the use of words by wicked persons in order to deceive and to oppress others, and in this respect it is a commentary on a theme introduced in the two preceding psalms. In Psalm 10 the writer is describing the wicked, one prominent feature of such persons being how they use words. They boast (v. 3) and sneer (v. 5). They say, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble” (v. 6). The psalmist concludes his description with words later alluded to by the apostle Paul in Romans, saying, “His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue” (v. 7; cf. Rom. 3:14).
In a similar way, Psalm 11 speaks about the destruction of society’s foundations by wicked people (v. 3), and we know that one of the ways they do this is with their tongues. “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” asks David. When we were studying that question, I said that the righteous turn to the Lord in such times. David did this in Psalm 11. He also does it in Psalm 12. In fact, it is the way the psalm begins. 1
God – all the good people are gone!
David begins with what is clearly hyperbole.
Ps 12:1 Help, LORD, for the godly are no more;
the faithful have vanished from among men.
Of course, not all of the people who believe in and follow God are gone. Although, the Bible does tell us of a time when that will indeed happen. The referenced passage below is quite long, so I’m only including enough to make that point.
Signs of the End of the Age – Matthew
24:1-51 pp — Mk 13:1-37; Lk 21:5-36
Mt 24:30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
However, when too many of us are silent, it really can feel like the faithful really are gone. Worse yet, when those who claim to be among the faithful and when they claim to do oppressive things in the name of God, it does appear that God is behind this oppression.
But God will turn and help
As he often does, David’s psalm includes something on what God cares about and will do. Oppression of the weak is not something God will continue to allow to take place unchecked.
Ps 12:5 “Because of the oppression of the weak
and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise,” says the LORD.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
We often read in the Old Testament of God rising up someone to help His people. Think Moses. Gideon. Even David. More on that in the conclusion.
Summarize and repeat
The final two verses summarize what the first six say.
Ps 12:7 O LORD, you will keep us safe
and protect us from such people forever.
Ps 12:8 The wicked freely strut about
when what is vile is honored among men.
David says God will keep us safe from those who oppress the weak. However, as long as we honor that kind of behavior, the wicked will flourish.
Conclusion – Oppression of the weak isn’t new
That last part is very “New Testament”. Why? Forever is eternal. And we, the faithful, have a role to play.
Forever is eternal
Even in Jesus’ time, the Jewish leaders disagreed over eternal life after resurrection. So, the concept of God keeping us safe from the wicked, the oppressors, forever was foreign to anyone who didn’t believe in resurrection and an eternal life after that.
It was more than obvious that there was no such protection during their lives.
And for us today, as much as we in America like to pass laws that we claim will prevent something from ever happening again, we have to know that’s just political speech that means nothing. Sometimes, as pointed out above, it’s the oppressor trying to convince the oppressed that they are sorry.
We have a role to play
Earlier, I said God raised up leaders and heroes in Old Testament times.
The thing is, He still does that, even now. It’s those of us who follow Jesus. For better or for worse, Jesus left us, His disciples, as His representatives here on earth.
Even something as basic, although much too ignored, as the full text of The Great Commission can be a solution to the oppression of the weak.
The Great Commission
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Part of the key there is: teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
If we teach Christians everything Jesus commanded, then we’ll all know that oppression of the weak is exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught. We’re supposed to care for and protect the weak among us. Not take advantage of them.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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