Executing Justice for the Oppressed
The Hebrew word that is translated in Psalm 103:8 as steadfast love is hesed. It means a persistent, unalterable love, one that doesn’t change even if the loved one changes. Hesed is love that doesn’t give up, no matter what. This is the love that is extended to every one of us in Jesus Christ. Psalm 103:1-17 and 146 gives a list of the ways that God’s steadfast love is manifested in concrete situations in life. It is the Lord “who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.”
Prisoners are set free, blind eyes are opened, travelers are cared for and the widowed and the fatherless are upheld. These are all aspects of God’s steadfast love for those in need, whatever their place in life.
Good stewards always try to do what their employer wants done in the same spirit that the employer acts in. These psalms tell us how God acts toward us, and, in a way, gives us a pattern for how we should act toward one another. God feeds the hungry—so should we; God executes justice for the oppressed—as much as we may fear justice for ourselves, we must try to apply it to those oppressed around us.
—Dr. Robert Allen
- The United States has the highest percentage of persons in prison of any country in the world. What would be the result if prisoners were set free? What does this have to do with hesed?
- Have you ever experienced an unchanging love from another person? How did that love change you?
- How do you react when someone you love very much disappoints you?
How Do I Act?
- Make arrangements to donate your corneas to the eye bank or other organs to help keep others alive when you have died. Talk over these arrangements with family members (whether or not they like the idea). It is good to know that our wishes are known so that they can be carried out.
- Talk to your local law enforcement officials about the possibility of arranging a visitation program with persons in the nearest jail or prison. There may be groups in your area such as Church Women United that already have a visitation program you might join. Think about donating paperback Bibles also. Your church or class may want to take this on as a project and deliver them as a group.
- Promote food banks. Think of ways to encourage gifts of food such as once a month buying duplicates of canned goods when you purchase them for your family, “charging the admission” of canned goods to participate in a church dinner, or setting aside a Sunday each month to bring canned goods.