What exactly does justice look like in the psalms? It positively maintains the rights of the weak. It rejects the use of bullying words. It doesn't take advantage of the vulnerable. It doesn't love violence. Those who love justice actively reject all systems that oppress people.
Where there is enemy talk in the psalms, there is also justice talk. Where there is injustice talk, there is also a plea for a Just Judge to make things right or, as philosophers might put it, to give people what they are due.
The psalmists see structural injustice within society, where Christians, especially evangelicals, may see only personal guilt. The psalmists see wickedness that pervades institutions & cultures, while Christians may see only the need for the forgiveness of individual sins.
The psalmists see powerless people who are oppressed by the powerful, and so they pray for justice. Christians see only Psalm 51 with its plea for mercy. Writes C. S. Lewis, “Christians cry to God for mercy instead of justice; they cried to God for justice instead of injustice."
While many Christians give justice half the attention they give to mercy, the Psalter devotes twice as much space to justice as it does to mercy—not because mercy matters less than justice but because a world that violates justice violates God’s gracious purposes for that world.
This is the most important lesson I learned in writing my book on the psalms: it's that in the psalms there is no true worship without justice, no faithful prayer that leaves out justice, and no genuine faith that takes justice less seriously than God takes it.
God have mercy.
God have mercy.