The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
– Psalms 103:6 (ESV)
I love reading through the Book of Psalms. I have read Psalms 103:6 many times, and usually continue to the next verse. However, during Black History Month each year I pause to reflect on how God moves and works in so many circumstances to fulfill His purpose. Often the situations seem impossible and oppressive, especially for those who have gone before us and faced challenges that seemed difficult to overcome. For example, Lucy Ann Stanton became the first African American female in America to complete a four-year college degree at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1850. After her struggle to earn her education, she delivered the graduation address entitled “A Plea for the Oppressed,” which was published in The Oberlin Evangelist (D. & Grabowski, 1996).
Who are the “oppressed” mentioned in Psalms 103:6? Those who have no rights, no power, or no one to defend them. Merriam-Websters defines oppression as “the exercise of the authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. The act or instance of oppressing or subjecting to cruel or unjust impositions or restraints.” We can look at oppression in several ways: poverty, racism, or sexism. Take a moment and look at those around you—your friends, family, or neighbors. Do you see oppression? If so, how are you responding?
Here’s the model. First, we must see people as God sees them; we must see them with the eyes of Christ. For example, in Exodus 2:23–25, we see the Israelites who are under the oppression of slavery. They are groaning and crying out for help. God heard their groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God was concerned about the Israelites, and His divine presence never left them. God sees, listens, understands, and responds.
We can join with God where He is working. We also can deepen our compassion and understanding for others. I pray that this will be the year and season God truly opens our eyes to let us see as He sees. That we will listen, understand, and respond to His call.
Finally, the good news and promise about the oppression we see around us: the Lord will work righteousness and justice for all those who are oppressed.
Lord, I pray that You use us for Your service and that we recognize this Your doing, not ours. May You receive all the glory, honor, and praise.
Blessings to you all,
Dr. Valencia Wiggins
D., V. T. D., & Grabowski, J. J. (1996). The encyclopedia of Cleveland history. Indiana University Press in association with Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) (1991) Merriam-Webster Incorporated.