Lessons From the Old Testament: God’s Concern For Justice


For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent.  They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.  They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. (2:6,7)

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” (4:1)

There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground.  There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. (5:7,10)

Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.  Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy. (5:15)

Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”— skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.  The LORD has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.” (8:4-7)


He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly  with your God. (6:8)

It incurs the vociferous punishment of God, makes Him sick of our hypocritical religious practices, and has drawn His most severe calls to repentance.  Injustice!  Taking advantage of those who are most easily taken advantage of – the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the foreigner!  People who have no ability to fend for themselves!

The prophecies of the Old Testament are full of such charges and warnings of impending doom for those who mistreat the ones God loves.  Why would God be so particularly compassionate toward the poor, the widows, the orphans and foreigners?  Why does He love the underdog?  I think it is because they have the least to commend themselves to anyone else and are the most perfect examples of the spiritual neediness that we all have.  They may also be those most likely to have open and dependent hearts for God, desperately needing Him like no others seem to.

Do you share God’s heart for the oppressed?  James accurately reflects the Old Testament emphasis when he says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  (James 1:27)  His heart has not changed from one Testament to another.


2 thoughts on “Lessons From the Old Testament: God’s Concern For Justice

  1. Great post!

    In response to your question, “Why does He love the underdog?” I would like to add, He loves us all! The greatest commandment is to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourself. There is enough love to go around if it’s freely given. The poor and the disadvantaged are obviously in greater need of assistance and ongoing protection from oppression than those who can more readily fend for themselves; so many commands are given to protect and care for them– not because God loves them more than others, but because their need is greater.

    You notice the instructions given by James are for individuals– not government programs–as are the other instructions given throughout scripture.

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