“I will sing of steadfast love and justice” (Psalm 101:1).
David says he sings of justice. I don’t think I even know any songs about justice. Given all the talk of justice in our day and age (social justice, economic justice, justice and liberty for all), you would think there would be more songs about it.
I wonder if the reason our culture doesn’t sing much about justice is that we don’t have the means to agree on what it means. We all vaguely understand that the U.S. Constitution gives us a standard for law and justice, but we are often at a loss to know how to interpret it in a just manner (i.e., what does “cruel and unusual” mean?). Does justice mean protecting the weak and disadvantaged, or making sure everyone is always treated exactly the same always? Does it mean upholding the rights of the accused? The convicted? The victim? What do we do when justice for one means injustice for another?
When justice is just a balancing act of the “inalienable rights” of interested parties, it fails to inspire. When justice is simply about finding the least bad solution to wrongs committed, the poets don’t exactly break into song. When “justice” means Barry Bonds gets a one-month sentence to stay home in his Beverly Hills mansion, few people start singing hymns in praise of our legal system.
So, what did David know about justice that you and I clearly don’t? What had he seen of justice that escapes our society?
The justice he was singing about wasn’t the worldly sort. It isn’t human justice that makes him burst out melodiously. He sings of God’s justice.
David is a king who knows he serves under a King. He exercises justice while being held to a standard of Justice outside the systems of this world. He can sing of that Justice because it is unflinching, uncompromising, unchanging. He can sing because he knows that, in contrast to our ways of going about it, God’s justice will never fail, but will put every wrong to rights.
You and I can sing of justice because we have no need to fear it. We have been unjust in our lives, but at the cross, Christ took all justice upon himself and won mercy for his people. And when he comes again, he will execute justice, righting every wrong in human history.
Who knows? Maybe even Barry Bonds will get what he deserves at the Second Coming.
Satisfied justice is worth singing of. Eternal justice is worthy of song. May our hearts sing of God’s justice, knowing it’s been fulfilled in Christ, and that one Day all the injustices of the world will be put right again.