For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. — Psalm 9:4
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other African-American leaders began their heroic march for civil rights and fight for justice, the Jewish community stood side-by-side on the frontlines of faith. As we honor Dr. King’s legacy this month, let Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s reflections on justice inspire and encourage you.
For more on the historic and spiritual bonds between the African-American and Jewish community, download our complimentary booklet here.
The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization operating in the U.S., the U.K, Canada, and Australia, which is dedicated —through DNA testing — to proving the innocence of those wrongly convicted. Since its inception in 1992, this group has helped exonerate 350 people previously convicted of serious crimes.
That such a group exists underscores the fact that injustice, or being treated unfairly, is part of our human experience. While we hopefully will never be falsely accused of committing a serious crime, we all have to some extent or another felt like we’ve been unfairly treated. Perhaps your best intentions have been misunderstood and you have faced criticism for your actions. Maybe you have worked hard on a report for your boss, only to have her take the credit for what you have done. It could be as simple as the group at work or school ignoring your ideas.
Certainly, David, the author of Psalm 9, was treated unfairly. Although David did nothing but further King Saul’s kingdom by securing victory after victory on the battlefield, the king felt threatened enough by his young warrior to order him killed. For many years, David ran and hid from Saul and his men in the barren wilderness and enemy territory.
David might have severely doubted God’s promise to him that he would one day be king of Israel. He could have easily become angry and vindictive about the situation. Certainly, David had opportunities to harm the king on several occasions. But David never wavered in believing that God would fulfill His promise to him. Nor did he ever take justice into his own hands.
Why? I think part of the answer lies in verse 4. David affirms that God has “upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.” David trusted completely that God, indeed, saw his good deeds and that God would reward those in His own time. God alone would judge all righteousness and act accordingly.
That is a good lesson for us all to remember when we have been wronged, or when we have felt the sting of injustice. Rather than take revenge or allow feelings of hatred or pity to wash over us, we need to trust in God.
Only then will we be able to experience His peace and be free from the worry of how others perceive and treat us.
Download your complimentary copy of our booklet, On the Frontlines of Faith, which explores the historic and spiritual bond between the African-American and Jewish communities during the Civil Rights Movement.Honor Rabbi Eckstein