Ecclesiastes: Day 8: The oppression of the oppressed

Day 8: The oppression of the oppressed (4:1)

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter” (4:1).

The subject of justice for all, especially for the poor, weak, disempowered and vulnerable, was something that clearly bothered the Preacher, as we considered yesterday. He clearly saw that the cards were stacked against the oppressed and, as for the oppressors, they not only held the upper hand, but they exploited their position. To make things worse, those who were oppressed had no-one to help them – they were victims and he saw there was none to rescue them. It should be noted such a scenario was a far cry from that envisaged under the Law of Moses, where special provision was made to look after those who might fall victim to being oppressed, but then we are reminded we are speaking of life under the sun.

When we consider the Prophets of the Bible, they had many complaints but one that often featured, because it came from the heart of God, was when such people were oppressed and justice they should count on was denied. The Psalmist could see what was happening and what was needed: “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked” Psalm 82:2-4. Things were so bad that the Preacher could say: “I envy those who are dead and gone; they are better off than those who are still alive. But better off than either are those who have never been born, who have never seen the injustice that goes on in this world” (4:2,3 GNT).

It is subject that ought to concern God’s people today. It is not just one for those of a more liberal persuasion to claim the moral higher ground, but also for those who believe preaching the gospel of repentance and personal holiness should be our priority. We are required to follow the Great Command of “love thy neighbor” and should recall the words of Him who is the centre of the gospel, who lived a perfectly holy life: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” Isaiah 61:1-2. Here is not the place to spell out how exactly we should respond to the call to comfort the oppressed, but that there are many examples of oppression around us we can we be in no doubt, and we are responsible for finding and making the right response.Prayer: Dear Lord, we cry out to you with righteous anger because of the cries of the oppressed. Forgive us when ignore those cries. Help us to respond aright.

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