Justice and Mercy

“How long O Lord?” David cries out to God to save him from his enemies. They are not people that David set out to fight but to love (v13-14). A calamity no doubt yet his faith is still pulsing through his fear, even while the battle between good and evil people is reflected on the inside of David’s mind. Currently we do not face such fierce opposition in Australia but there are Christians being persecuted and killed in Syria and Iraq. It’s natural to react strongly.

Why so long? Is God not justified to judge all sinners? Are the offences merely trivial? Perhaps God is not quite sure who did it, or He was watching elsewhere in the world and did not notice? Does God need to defend His honour? Is He waiting until He is strong enough or perhaps He cannot make up His mind? No! The answer to ‘how long’ is ‘exactly long enough’. We can become self-focused in our waiting, but it is also God who is waiting.

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God since we all deserve death. Every person on earth offends God deeply, multiple times each day. So it is by His mercy that He has delayed bringing justice to the earth. He is still holding out for those that will repent, call on Jesus and be saved. The whole reason this Psalm exists is because of the enormous depth of His grace. Otherwise heinous crimes would not be forgiven and the end would come much sooner. The magnitude of unpunished crime is injustice that speaks to the magnitude of God’s grace toward sinners, not his carelessness! And that is a good thing that we can be saved. The Lord is rich in mercy, full of compassion and His love endures forever. How can we not pray for the souls of those around us?

“He…did not destroy them; And He often restrained His anger.” -Psalm 78:38

“According to the multitude of your tender mercies, turn to me.” -Psalm 69:16 KJV

“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” – Isaiah 30:18

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9


Plumer, William S., 1865, ‘Providence’, accessed at <www.gracegems.org>