Proverbs 21

Let Justice Reign and Rain.

“The LORD is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices.” ­– Proverbs 21:3 NLT

This verse jumped out at me this morning. It fit in with a lot I had been reading the last few days. And it ended up convicting me of an area of weakness in my life. That of doing the just and right thing. Don’t get me wrong. I try to live my life according to God’s will and in step with His Word, but this verse has to do with my relationship with those who are suffering – those who are weak and defenseless. All throughout the Bible God talks about His care for widows and orphans, two of the most abused and neglected people groups during both the Old and New Testament periods. Listen to what He says, “The LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and takes no bribes. He gives justice to orphans and widows. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. You, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 NLT). Psalm 68:5 says God is a “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows.” He cares for those who can’t care for themselves. There is something about God’s character as a just and righteous sovereign that drives Him to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. He cannot and will not tolerate the mistreatment of the defenseless, the poor, the downtrodden, the powerless and the weak. And He expects us to do the same thing. This is where I think I am weak. Do I really care for those around me who can’t take care of themselves? Do I have a heart of compassion for those who find themselves in a tough spot, unable to meet their own needs or dig themselves out of the hole in which they find themselves. The truth is, I can find myself judging them and rationalizing that they are where they are because they deserve it. I end up judging them unjustly. I don’t know their story, but I draw conclusions anyway.

In this verse in Proverbs the writer uses a word that is translated “justice.” It is the Hebrew word tsĕdaqah. As is true with most Hebrew words, its meaning is far greater and deeper than one English word can convey. We tend to think of justice as a response or punishment to some negative action. We want justice to be done. But in the Hebrew it can also mean righteousness or charity. In his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, Chris Seay puts it this way, “Justice – righteousness – is about putting yourself and the societal values to one side and trying hard to live in the God values that the prophets and Jesus have revealed, about the healing of the world.”  He goes on to say, “God wants us to be righteous – which means God wants us to be holy, healing, gathering, defending, and rescuing.” God wants us to do what is right and just – in regards to those around us. In fact, God prefers that over our sacrifices. Which might include our quiet times, prayers, and other Christian activities. It is not that those things are wrong or shouldn’t be done. But if we go through the religious motions and leave out showing justice to those in need, it becomes empty. James said it well. “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us” (James 1:27 NLT). Justice and righteousness. They go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Solomon goes on to warn us, “Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need” (Proverbs 21:13 NLT). But he also encourages us, “Justice is a joy to the godly” (Proverbs 21:15 NLT). We should love doing the right thing. We should find joy in helping the helpless and giving hope to the hopeless. Because that is the heart of God Himself.

Father, give me a heart for the hopeless and helpless. Forgive me for all the times I have ignored them and walked right by them, unaware that they were even there. They are everywhere in our society. They are preyed upon, taking advantage of, abused, and neglected. And You have called us as Your people to express Your love and compassion to them. We are to care for them. Show me how. Open my eyes. Let Your justice reign through me and rain down all around me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men