A Psalm For Racial Justice

Image result for blake shootingSome Christians have been uneasy about some Bible passages, and even a select psalm or two has been known to get carefully tucked away, out of sight, out of mind. Maybe this is a good cry for justice; what do you make of the 58th, not a part of the Lectionary or the Liturgy of the Hours?


R. Truly there is a reward for the just;
there is a God who is judge on earth!

Do you indeed pronounce justice, O gods;
do you judge fairly you children of Adam?
No, you freely engage in crime;
your hands dispense violence to the earth.

The wicked have been corrupt since birth;
liars from the womb, they have gone astray.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a serpent stopping its ears,
So as not to hear the voice of the charmer
or the enchanter with cunning spells.

O God, smash the teeth in their mouths;
break the fangs of these lions, LORD!
Make them vanish like water flowing away;
trodden down, let them wither like grass.

Let them dissolve like a snail that oozes away,
like an untimely birth that never sees the sun.
Suddenly, like brambles or thistles,
have the whirlwind snatch them away.

Then the just shall rejoice to see the vengeance
and bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

Too strong? A bit of commentary:

  • Certainly the actions of some law enforcement suggest a self-image as gods, as accuser, judge, and executioner.
  • Corruption is certainly on many minds as they see a disparity in the treatment of innocent people of color compared to whites who commit brazen acts of violence and terror.
  • Lying is like an addiction, and included in this is the practice of dissembling with words so as to occlude meaning and deny responsibility.
  • Snakes and lions are predators, but the psalmist soon shifts from animals powerful and feared to impotent symbols: water in an arid climate, grass during drought, snails, miscarriages, and even something lightweight enough to be carried off by mere wind.
  • Personally, I draw the line in a bath of blood, but I wonder how the frustrations and anger of oppressed persons has built up to the point where such a cleansing would be welcome.

What musical genre for a setting? Blues, certainly. Right? Any thoughts?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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