Deuteronomy 16:19 (CSB)
19 Do not deny justice or show partiality to anyone. Do not accept a bribe, for it blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
The chapter shifts gears here, as Moses moves from the observance of festivals to outlining a system of judges for Israel as they enter Canaan.
The high level view of this system is the establishment of “judges and officials” in all the towns that the Israelites will settle in Canaan. These judges “are to judge the people with righteous judgment,” so it seems clear that they would be Israelites, and obviously those capable of making “righteous” decisions.
I find Deut. 16:19 to be the most interesting of the three verses in this pericope.
First, we as Christians, just as the Israelites, should be just to all people, not just believers, not just our friends, or any other subgroup that we might choose. And isn’t this the model God established for us? Christ died for all people, so that anyone might be saved through him. Further, God’s justice is perfect, and perfectly applied to all. We should not confuse righteous consequences for injustice. It is a false argument to say that since people will be lost and spend eternity separated from God, that God is somehow unjust.
Second, the effects of accepting a bribe are nasty. Wisdom is made blind, and righteousness is twisted by it. When someone is bought they no longer see the truth, the see their payoff. When someone is bought their judgment is no longer righteous, it stands on greed. We recognize it in our politics today, and God warned about it thousands of years ago.
And the result of pursuing only justice? The Israelites take and live in Canaan, the land that God is giving them. And for us, we would be wise to follow the same examples, and elect those that pursue justice alone, and not some perverted form of it, but true justice, based upon God’s ways.
Lord, thank you for guidance in establishing our judges and officials: our governments. I pray that we as a nation would seek officials that represent a pursuit of true justice, and justice alone, and that justice is based upon you and your word. Amen.