Deuteronomy 1:17 (HCSB)
17 Do not show partiality when deciding a case; listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it.
This passage is a reflection back on the appointment of leaders for the Israelites, when Moses was unable to act as judge for all disputes as the number of the people multiplied. Although at first it might seem out of place, or unnecessary to have here, as the Israelites are about to enter Canaan, I think there are some important points for the Israelites, and us, in these verses.
- God had made good his promise to multiply the Israelites. This had been the case, and was fulfilled long before arriving at the border of Canaan, about to take the land. This should have been a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness, and removed doubt about the Promised Land being given to them. Likewise, in our lives we have promises from God, both in scripture, and sometimes through prayer, providence, prophecy, or whatever way God speaks to us, and we should feel strengthened and assured that God’s word is good, He always fulfills His promises.
- “Appoint for yourselves…” (Deut 1:13) Moses reminds the Israelites that they took part in setting up their leadership. This is not an argument for representational democracy, but it is an argument for joining in on God’s plan and work! We should not be sitting on the sideline watching God work, we should be in the game, running the plays that He is calling!
- The leaders of the Israelites were commanded to “judge rightly,” just as God judges rightly. Obviously we, as sinful creatures, are not able to perfectly mimic God, but we should strive to do our best, to be fair and just in all matters. It does not take much to see our seemingly ever growing distance from what the judges of Israel were called to do and what our leaders today practice. Perhaps a reminder of what God commanded that group of “politicians” would be good for our leaders today.
- And finally, Moses exhorts the Israelites to fear nobody but God. Deuteronomy 1:17b reads, “Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God.” Standing at the border of Canaan, the Israelites were not to be intimidated, just as the judges were not to be influenced in their decisions. When we start putting anything else above God in terms of what influences our decisions, we have given that thing the throne. When finances, relationships, health, entertainment, or anything else, makes decisions for us, or defines our decision making process, we have moved our focus off of God.
Lord, thank You for Your promises, which You keep. I’m sorry for placing other things, other people, above You at times. I pray that I will remember that You are the One who judges, and You are the One in control. Help me to stay focused on You at all times. Amen.