“Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”
I sat there, heart thumping, desperately wanting to hold someone’s hand. There was none. I was sitting alone, representing my family, waiting for the jury to deliver their verdict on a most harrowing case of abuse against a member of my family.
The words pierced my heart, shattering its hope for justice into pieces. A sob broke out of the depths of my being as I took in the enormity of the words, the lack of justice, the lack of protection, the impact this would have on my family.
As I walked dazed from the courtroom, the defendant and his barrister came out, the barrister smiling, saying “Congratulations!” to his client. I could almost hear the defendant saying to himself: “Nothing will shake me, I’ll always be happy and never have trouble”. (Psalm 10:6). The defence barrister had done an excellent job, sowing enough doubt into the heart of the jury that they could not be sure of the testimony against this man, who had himself lied under oath before Almighty God. I can hear him saying to himself “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees; He won’t call me to account.” (Ps 10:11;13).
Psalm 10 has been the cry of my heart during these harrowing days in court. It has helped me to form the words to cry out against the wickedness which has been committed:
“He lies in wait like a lion in cover, he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.” (vv9-10).
As I listened to him telling lies in court under oath, I had verse 7 in my mind: “His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue” even as I called on God to fulfil verse 15 in that courtroom: “Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.”
My whole spirit has been crying out throughout the case “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” (v12)
And I am assured in my spirit that He will do exactly this. Justice may not have been served in this earthly courtroom, but I know that my God hears the cry of the afflicted, that He hates wickedness and injustice, and that there is a Day when all will be set right. On that Day, there will be no clever defence barrister to twist words, to cast doubt on the honest, heart-rending testimony of a broken individual. Instead, our God who does see all trouble and grief will consider it to take it in hand (v14). Justice will be served. Wickedness will be punished. For the sake of the defendant, I pray he repents and believes before that Day.
As I reflect on the events of this past couple of weeks, I find my mind drifting to another courtroom, a heavenly one. But this time, I am the defendant. My heart knows my guilt. Then my barrister stands to sum up the evidence against me. Before He speaks, He walks over to me. He takes my hand in His – such relief to hold a hand at a moment like this. I feel the scars on His hand. And lifting our entwined hands up, He declares before the heavenly court “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions; as far as the east is from the west, that’s how far I have removed your transgressions from you.” (Isa 44:22; Ps 103:12). This time, the words “NOT guilty!” which reverberate around the courtroom bring a sob of joy from the depths of my being.