Why Does God Love Justice?
For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.
In yesterday's reflection on Psalm 10, we saw that God "bring[s] justice to the orphans and the oppressed" (10:18). This picture of the Lord is consistent with what we find throughout the Scriptures.
Psalm 11 further explains God's relationship to justice. Verse 7 reads, "For the righteous LORD loves justice." Our translation obscures an intentional play on words in the original Hebrew. It might be translated more literally, "For the just LORD loves justice" or "For the righteous LORD loves righteous deeds." The Hebrew uses the adjective tzaddiq in reference to the Lord and the plural noun tzedaqot to depict that which he loves. Even without knowing Hebrew, you can see the close relationship between these two words, which are based on the tz-d-q root.
In English, we often make a distinction between righteousness and justice. Righteousness has to do more with personal morality, with acting rightly according to some standard. Justice is a matter of legality or societal structures. In Hebrew, however, the words based on the tz-d-q root embrace both personal morality and legal/social relationships. Thus, God as tzaddiq is both righteous and just. And God loves both personal righteousness and societal justice.
Why? Why is God a lover of righteousness and justice? Because these realities reflect God's own nature. When we do what is right, we are not just acting properly, but also mirroring God's own nature. The same is true when we seek justice in our relationships and in our world.
Doing what God loves is surely a sufficient motivation for us as we live our lives in this world. Whether in the workplace or in the civic square, whether among our neighbors or in our families, we want to do the things that God loves. But verse 7 adds a further motivation for such behavior: "The virtuous will see his face." When we live in a way that pleases God, we will see God more clearly. Our hearts and minds will be attuned to the Lord so that we might be attuned to his presence both within and around us.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you truly desire to do that which God loves? What increases this desire? What conflicts with this desire? How might you live today as a reflection of God's own righteousness and justice?
PRAYER: God of righteousness and justice, may I love what you love. May I desire what you desire. May I seek what you seek. May I live in such a way that you love my deeds and my relationships.
Help me, I pray, to consider you as I live my life today. Even when I'm doing that which tends to be called "secular," may I do it for your delight and glory.
Gracious God, may I see your face. May I know you more truly. May I continuously grow in my relationship with you. Amen.