Seminary Viewpoints

Reacting to the Injustice Around Us (Psalm 82)

March 7, 2019
Video Interviews

Neal Cushman: In chapel, Kevin, you covered Psalm 82, a writing of Asaph, and I think we all appreciated how you helped us to understand the structure of the poetry and how it all worked together, you know, where the emphasis is, how synonymous parallelism works and so forth. I thought that we really gained a better understanding of what Asaph was trying to communicate in it. At the end of the message, you raised a question that I wonder if you could elaborate on? That is, you know, today in the world in which we live we face a lot of injustice. We face it personally. I think we face it politically. We face it in places where our missionaries are serving, and certainly our missionaries probably face bigger problems than we do in many ways today in certain countries. So I wonder if you could elaborate on that question: “What should a Christian do when they face injustice?” What does the Psalm teach us about that?

Kevin Bauder: Well, what you’re asking is a very big question that actually has a fairly narrow application and answer in the 82nd Psalm in terms of the larger question. Well, maybe the place to begin is by saying that the injustice of the world is not a new thing. Asaph was writing a thousand years B.C., and Asaph, even under King David, was observing injustice. Many of his poems reflect this problem–Why do the wicked prosper? Why does God let them get away with this stuff? And it’s a legitimate question. The question, “How should we respond?” I think is an important question because what we want to do is to squash whatever injustice we see, usually by squashing whoever we see committing injustice or what we think is injustice. The danger of that is that many times when we attempt to correct this injustice, the cost is that we end up doing a different injustice and maybe a worse injustice over here. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to correct injustices. Certainly, we should never perpetrate injustice, but at the end of the day what we need is somebody who really understands what justice is who will step onto the scene and who will actually put things in order. You know, it’s somebody of whom you could say this: his scepter of righteousness is the scepter of his kingdom. And, of course, we’re looking at the Lord Jesus Christ in those words. Asaph is not thinking of Jesus at the end of Psalm 82, but he is thinking about God when he issues the cry, “God, arise; judge the earth because you will inherit all nations.” We now recognize that the God who will come and judge the earth is the second person of the Godhead–God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ–who will impose justice upon the world. And he will do it perfectly. You realize nobody will ever walk away from the courts of Jesus Christ saying, “I don’t think I was treated rightly.” No, everybody gets treated rightly.

Cushman: I think you also made the point in your sermon that, you know, we want God to fix things but we have to realize that we also are going to be examined–we also are going to have to face that Judge. I wonder if you could comment on that.

Bauder: Oh! You know we want a judge who is going to correct injustice. Think of the worst, the most unjust rulers you can imagine–a Ghengis Khan or an Adolph Hitler or a Joseph Stalin. You know we want a God who is going to make those things right and who will judge the injustice. What we don’t realize–well, we should realize but often don’t–is that we are more like a Hitler than we are like God. The difference between us and Hitler is one of degree. The difference–the moral difference between us and God is one of kind. God is an absolutely holy God. He is going to judge with perfect justice. Yes, he will judge Hitler, but a judge of perfect justice is going to have to judge any of us who have committed injustice. And that’s all of us. What we need is somebody who can step in between and absorb God’s judgment for us, and that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did on the cross. It’s not that God won’t ever judge our sins. That’s not the case at all. God has already judged our sins on the cross. Jesus took God’s wrath; he absorbed God’s justice and satisfied it. That’s the doctrine that we call propitiation. Christ satisfied God’s justice so we don’t need to fear the just judge when he comes if we have trusted Christ.

Cushman: That’s a great comfort to us. Thank the Lord for his work on the cross for us.