Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
When we vote, aren’t we opening our mouths, so to speak?
When we vote are we speaking for the rights of all who are destitute? (e.g. many undocumented immigrants are here out of sheer destitution)
When we vote aren’t we called upon to do so with judgments that are righteous (that is, which pertain to the rights and needs of all beings)?
When we vote, are we defending the rights of the poor and needy?
Some forgotten wisdom here that we might want to take to the voting booth–next time.
A righteous person knows the rights of the poor; a wicked person does not understand such knowledge.
This ancient piece of wisdom is straightforward and clear. In the context of ancient Israel, it meant that the poor were to be taken care of–no attitude or feeling about the poor mattered. The poor were the obligation of the Israelite to care for. A righteous Israelite knew what they were supposed to DO. Providing for the poor was simply part of the faithful life.
“The poor don’t deserve it. They are lazy. They have screwed up their lives, why should I do anything about it? Lazy people are just draining my money from me. They have a cell phone (or other object) and I’m supposed to pay for their food stamps? You know they sell those food stamps for drugs, right?”
That’s what modern Americans often say about the poor. Many of them are Christians. They have forgotten the wisdom of their Holy Book.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Who has a right to adequate health care? Anyone? Everyone? Only those who can afford it? Who has a right to food, shelter and water? Who has a right to basic respect? Who has a right to a decent education, to learn to read? Anyone? Everyone? No one? Only those who can afford it?
The Psalmist asks in this prayer that the weak receive what they have a right to, that those afflicted and destitute, those without parents to care for them (fatherless also means without an inheritance) be protected from the wicked. The wicked–who don’t care for the poor, the needy, the destitute and those who don’t have enough to live on.
This is not ancient Israel, but we still have the needy, weak, destitute and those without enough to live on. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it–all this talk about cutting health care, medicare, medicaid, food stamps and none of this being a right. Or, maybe it doesn’t make you think.