God Deems Them Righteous

Psalm 34:11-22

“God does not hear the prayers of Jews,” a prominent pastor proclaimed in 1980. His words created division among Christians and Jews alike. Who had the audacity to determine whom God hears?

Psalm 34 tells us exactly whom God hears: those who are righteous. And righteous in these verses refers to marginalized people, those society has made helpless and invisible, those who are brokenhearted, living with crushed spirits. The righteous no longer expect the world to come to their rescue; they look to the Lord as their last and only resort. Because they cry to God, God deems them righteous. God responds to them: The LORD’s eyes watch the righteous, his ears listen to their cries for help…When the righteous cry out, the LORD listens (vv. 15, 17). Theologian Walter Brueggemann writes, “Yahweh’s solidarity is not with the ones who go from success to success, but the ones denied success.”

David warns that those who oppress the righteous will be found guilty in a higher court. Those who deny justice and do not build structures that assist those in need will not do well in that appeal process.

Our world teems with those who are righteous, those who are neglected, ignored, or spurned. Yet too often we ignore their cries and prayers. Caught up in our own tiny worlds, we easily find ourselves too busy or indifferent to lend a hand. A check written from our excess may temporarily ease our minds, but does not address the major structural and societal issues that create the affliction. God help us help others before it’s too late.

Source: Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing, 1984), 134.


Examine your life and the life of your church. How can you partner to address one major plight of the righteous in your community?


God of the righteous, open my eyes to those in need around me. Grant me your Spirit to reorder and reshape life in my community. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 26.3 of Reflections.

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