Original Research

The Psalms and economic justice

Lee Roy Martin
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2869 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2869 | © 2022 Lee Roy Martin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2022 | Published: 09 December 2022

About the author(s)

Lee Roy Martin, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Economic justice is a global issue; and in many areas of the world, it is a life-or-death issue. It is well known that the biblical prophets address economic inequities, poverty, and oppression; but the book of Psalms has not been viewed as a resource for promoting economic justice. The purpose of this article is to examine relevant texts in the Psalter that speak to a theology of economic justice. The objective is to construct an initial framework for talking about the Psalms and economics in the context of today’s church. Texts from the Psalms that mention the poor, the weak, the orphan, the widow, the alien are identified and examined exegetically and theologically. These texts are classified and outlined logically according to the following topics that emerged from the texts themselves: the poor and the covenant community, the nature of poverty in the psalter, God’s vindication of the poor, worship and justice, and the psalter’s encouragement of the poor. Results of the research showed that God created Israel to be a community of justice and equity; therefore, God acts on behalf of the poor, and God makes the worshipping community accountable to care for the poor. The study concluded further that privileged leaders who wield power in the community are responsible to care for the disadvantaged members of the community who lack the resources to fend for themselves. The Psalms also encourage the poor to cry out to God whenever they experience oppression and injustice. Potential implications of this article were offered that challenge modern individualism and the theology of private spirituality that is detached from concrete communal ethics.

Contribution: This article contributed to a biblical theology of economic justice. It demonstrated that the book of Psalms challenges God’s people to engage in redemptive activities that minister to the poor and to the marginalised.


poverty; justice; marginalised; immigrants; oppression


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