Read Psalm 9.
Jesus is for losers. As I study the Bible, this idea hits me in the face again and again. The Lord is on the side of the beaten down, the poor, the disenfranchised, the sick, the lame, the lost, and the hated. He is for all the people who are losing the game of life. He is concerned with the people you and I are thinking about when we say to ourselves, “At least I’m not like that guy.”
In the ancient world, the trouble of the oppressed was often doubled, because it was believed that a person’s lot in life was determined by the gods and therefore deserved. Though pagan deities could be fickle at times, generally speaking, a person’s power and prosperity were signs of the gods’ blessing, while sickness and need were seen as righteous judgments.
Even among those who trusted Yahweh, this basic system of divine justice was part of the thinking. Consider Job’s friends. They saw Job’s tremendous suffering and concluded, almost instantly, that Job’s troubles were the result of some great sin in his life. Or consider Jesus’ disciples. When they encountered a man born blind, their question was, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).
It’s not hard to see how this sort of thinking kept creeping into the cultural conscience. After all, a prominent biblical principle states that people reap what they sow (Job 4:8; Proverbs 22:8; Galatians 6:8). But it doesn’t follow that every moment of suffering is payback for sin.
God is just. Here in Psalm 9, David emphasizes this truth: “He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity” (v. 8). In the next breath, however, he can say, “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (v. 9). Even as He is the perfect Judge, He is on the side of the weak and vulnerable, the ones who have been trampled by the brokenness of this world.
So why doesn’t God act to rid the world of injustice? It’s because He loves sin-sick people, and because, right now, justice is jumbled. The oppressors are often those who have been oppressed. The fatherless often grow up without knowing right from wrong, or caring much about the difference. Abusers are sometimes people who have themselves been abused. This reality doesn’t excuse sin—wrong is wrong—but it does help to illuminate God’s heart on the subject.
When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, He didn’t just see a tax collector who ripped people off; He also saw a man who had grown so spiritually sick that he could justify taking from his own neighbors to enrich himself (Luke 9:1–10). When He saw the woman at the well, He didn’t just see a Samaritan embroiled in scandal; He saw a woman who had been emotionally battered and bruised by a string of broken relationships (John 4:1–26). And when He saw the criminal on the cross next to Him, Jesus didn’t just see a lawbreaker sentenced to die; He saw a spark of faith and kindness (Luke 23:32–43).
Until the day He returns to judge the nations, Jesus stands with the losers—the poor, the oppressed, the trampled. And the truth is, we are all losers. Blessed are those of us who know it, or as Jesus Himself put it, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10).