Old Testament and Suffering


The key concept in the Old Testament is the notion of the covenant. God makes a covenant with his people. He intervenes in history to form a people. He is their God and they are his people. He is the One God and Lord of All. The people sing his praise as the God of Creation and the Lord of History (Ps 8). The Covenant calls for an understanding of the relationship of God with his people, the relationship of the people with each other and with all of creation. This relationship is based on Justice, which is an attribute of God. The covenant involves a choice that the people need to make. They have to choose fidelity and therefore life, or infidelity and therefore death. In spite of their choice, God is a Just God and his forgiveness and mercy always prevail.

The people of Israel experience God not as an arbitrary God. This is a notion alien to the people of Israel. God’s justice involves his compassionate intervention to relieve them of their suffering (Gen 21: 17; Ex 2: 24; Ps 22: 24). But, his justice also involves the curse resulting from the people’s infidelity (Is 45: 7; responsibility for evil [Amos 3: 6]; and the punishment for sinners [Jer 18: 11]).

However, deeper than the mystery of iniquity and evil[1] is the mystery of ELECTION & COVENANT.

[1] Evil is a certain lack, limitation or distortion of good. Human beings suffer because of a good they do not share, of which they are cut off or deprived off themselves.

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