Advent Psalm reading for December 18, 19, & 20: Psalm 125.
Righteous Paths and Divine Justice
In the previous post, Part 1, I reflected on the significance of leaders being accountable to righteousness in Psalm 125. This post will look at this message in light of the Old Testament liturgy in Malachi. As we transition from reflecting on the significance of righteous leadership in Psalm 125, let’s turn our attention to the prophetic messages in Malachi 3, which further illuminate the consequences of leadership corruption.
The Final Prophet
Malachi is the last prophet of Israel, according to rabbinical tradition. The prophet speaks about the fact act God has never changed, but God’s people have become corrupt. It is the very thing that Psalm 125 warns about in verse three:
The scepter of the wicked shall never rest
upon the land allotted to the righteous,
that the righteous not set their hand to wrongdoing.
The Failure of Corrupt Leaders
Once the leadership accepted corruption as a way of ruling over the people, even those who were chosen to be set apart for righteousness, for God’s protection and purpose, they began doing wrong. And the consequences? Corruption and wickedness will ultimately fail because God will not defend or protect the wicked. Malachi’s warnings echo the concerns raised in Psalm 125: when the leaders succumb to corruption, they not only betrays their divine purpose but also leads its people astray, a path that inevitably leads to failure in the eyes of God
A Promise of Redemption
The good news though is that God is prepared to receive anyone who turns from wickedness. God will look on with compassion and protect those who walk in the way of righteousness. there will be a time when wickedness will fade away, like chaff. This recalls Psalm 1. The wicked will not find roots in God’s creation. It cannot grow where the presence of God brings compassion, grace, and protects the way of the righteous. Amidst this stark depiction of corruption, Malachi offers a message of hope: the promise that those who turn away from wickedness will find compassion and protection from God, aligning with the psalm’s assurance that righteousness will ultimately prevail.
Reflections on Compassion at Advent
How can we reflect on this at Advent? In this season, we are in a mindset of remembrance for a time when God revealed divine compassion and grace through the Messiah. The Advent marks the arrival of a season of grace, but also marks a revelation for humanity about compassion and grace for one another. Before God incarnate, there was the promise of grace and divine compassionate justice, but Christ charged us with the power to extend divine compassion and grace toward one another.
As we reflect on these prophetic messages during Advent, we find a profound connection with the season’s essence. Advent is not just a remembrance of divine grace made manifest through the Messiah but also a reminder of our calling to embody that grace and compassion towards one another. We should be reminded of the enduring importance of righteousness, both in leadership and within ourselves. These scriptures collectively underscore a critical message: that corruption and wickedness, even when they seem to permeate leadership, are ultimately transient in the face of God’s enduring justice and compassion. This Advent season, as we remember the arrival of the Messiah, we are called not only to reflect on the divine compassion and grace revealed through Christ but also to embrace our role in perpetuating these virtues in our world.
The message of Malachi, coupled with the teachings of Psalm 125, serves as a powerful reminder that the path of righteousness, though challenging, is safeguarded by divine compassion. In a world often marred by corruption and injustice, these scriptures offer a beacon of hope – a reassurance that integrity and goodness are supported and cherished by God. As we anticipate the joy and renewal that Advent brings, let us commit to being bearers of the same compassion and grace that the Messiah embodied, fostering a world where righteousness and peace flourish. This Advent, let the promise of divine justice and compassion inspire us to cultivate these values in our communities, ensuring that the scepter of the wicked does not rest upon the land of the righteous, but rather, that goodness and integrity prevail in guiding us towards a more just and compassionate society.
Coming Up on Advent Psalm Reflection
In the next post, I will reflect on Psalm 125 with the New Testament liturgy.
This entire series and a link to the liturgical readings on the Advent Psalm Reflections page.
*The translations are JPS from Sefaria.org
Dr. Erica Mongé-Greer, holding a PhD in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen, is a distinguished researcher and educator specializing in Biblical Ethics, Mythopoeia, and Resistance Theory. Her work focuses on justice in ancient religious texts, notably reinterpreting Psalm 82’s ethics in the Hebrew Bible, with her findings currently under peer review.
In addition to her academic research, Dr. Mongé-Greer is an experienced University instructor, having taught various biblical studies courses. Her teaching philosophy integrates theoretical discussions with practical insights, promoting an inclusive and dynamic learning environment.
Her ongoing projects include a book on religious themes in the series Battlestar Galactica and further research in biblical ethics, showcasing her dedication to interdisciplinary studies that blend religion with contemporary issues.