"So David reigned over all Israel, and executed justice and righteousness for ALL his people."
II Samuel 8: 15, Amplified Bible
"The preaching of the Gospel and its acceptance imply a social revolution whereby the hungry are fed and justice becomes the right of all."
Leon Joseph Suenens
What does the word "justice" mean to me in practical, everyday life?
When the Bible says that David showed "justice" to "ALL his people," what do I believe this meant?
"Love and justice march together…you cannot have one without the other."
"Love cannot be practiced without justice. Love cannot be built on injustice, for injustice is lovelessness. Love is not an alternative to justice…Justice is the beginning of love."
It seems to be that all too frequently, when we hear the words "justice" or "righteousness," we either think of justice in terms of politics and righteousness in light of a theological definition.
However, if we carefully study the Bible, these two words, which are closely aligned in Scripture, appear to me to have very practical applications. I don't find God necessarily using these words as a way of encouraging political or theological rhetoric, rather I find that God's spokespeople throughout Scripture, apply these words to their lives in common, everyday actions. In other words, instead of talking the talk of justice and righteousness, God's children, who are in obedience and listening and following His way, choose to walk-the-walk of justice and righteousness.
To more clearly make this point, I want to go back in time and look at the word righteousness which in Hebrew is "tzedek," meaning integrity, equity, justice, and straightness. Broader Hebrew roots of this word include meanings such as, "upright, just, true and sincere." Righteous then is justice exhibited in moral obedience to God's divine plan.
With this background, let's go back to our text for today in II Samuel 8: 15 where we are told that David, who displayed exceptional generosity and strength, also was a stellar example to all of Israel of an individual who executed justice and righteousness.
We get an even clearer picture of what this verse is saying by looking into the word "asah" which is the verb, "executed." Interestingly enough, the words that are used as synonyms to define "execute" aren't what I call passive words. These words convey action and here are a few: "to fashion, to accomplish, to make, to produce, and to act with effect."
It's important for us to understand how pervasive David's action was in showing heavenly judgment, which reflected justice and righteousness. And please note, it wasn't only the rich or educated or mighty who benefitted from David's acts of justice and righteousness. The Bible says, "ALL the people in Israel" were beneficiaries of David's purposed goal to live a life and be a leader whose rulership was defined as just and right, fair and true.
This wasn't a campaign slogan that David decided to run on to garner votes from the people of Israel. Justice and righteousness were the core qualities of his life and he wanted all his subjects to be treated with a fairness that aligned with heavenly rightness. If we put this in plain everyday language, I'd describe David as a "straight arrow." I'll never forget hearing this term for the first time in a business meeting where a colleague was recommending another vendor to me and he said, "Dorothy, you'll like doing business with Paul, he's a ‘straight arrow.'" He went on to elaborate by describing this individual as a person who didn't cut corners or say one thing and do another. I was told that the company this particular individual worked for delivered a quality product, on-time - every time! And after doing several projects together, I found out the walk matched the talk. In every way, this company and their representative's reputation, held up.
Certainly, if you think over your own life, and the interaction you have had with family, friends and working associates, I know you could also find examples of individuals who were infused with just and right living -- it was the way they chose to live their lives. And when we are fortunate to meet people like this, I've found out personally that two things happen. First, with time you feel you can trust the person. And second, you expect more from them because of the trust you have placed in them. You come to believe they won't let you down. And this is such an important thought for you and me to remember, not only in David's life but as it applies to our own lives.
When we choose to be just, fair, upright and righteous - when we tell others that these heavenly qualities are key in our lives, we need to absolutely never forget what will happen if we, even in a moment of weakness, fall into a trap and stumble along the way.
Not long ago, a friend was discussing with me the moral failings of a well-respected and very visible Christian leader. "I don't know why people who aren't Christians are gloating so much," she observed. She continued by reflecting on the fact that many of the critics themselves were what she called "phonies." While I don't disagree that some of the heralded criticism of Christians can be unwarranted, when you and I take the name of Christ and claim to live, by walking on our Father's path, and then we relegate our holy talk to a hypocritical walk, we may deserve the mockery. But our heavenly Father certainly does not!!
It's vital we get this point straight - that justice and rightness, along with heavenly strength and generosity, were characteristics which were woven into the fabric of David's life. And when the threads began to unravel, whether one small string or several strands, even one flaw was enough to tear the entire tapestry of a life apart.
Just living. Right living. These are not words that tell you who or what I am. They must be the daily actions of your life and mine that show and produce the effect of our Father's presence, power and strength in our lives every day.
"You have shown us, Lord, what is good.
Enable us, we pray, to act justly,
To love mercy, and to walk humbly
With You, our God."
Prayer based on Micah 6: 8
"Lord, we pray for peace and justice,
But not peace at any price but peace at Your price.
We pray for justice based on heaven's righteousness.
Make us and all Your children so rich with Your love,
Your generosity, Your justice, that we can afford to
Pay the cost of Your peace and justice."
The Mother's Union Anthology Of Public Prayers
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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