The Word “Justice”

I’ve been memorizing Psalm 111 this year. I’ve been stuck on verses seven and eight – not the ability to memorize the verses but considering their meaning.

The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever; they are performed in truth and uprightness (Psalm 111:7-8).

My sticking point is the word “justice.”

There are two opposite reactions to this word in our culture today – first, run and hide from the word or ignore it, and second, weaponize the word for differing agendas.

During my current “justice” discernment, I read in the online Christianity Today magazine about a man examining the lyrics of the top 25 songs in the CCLI Top 100 worship songs today. He found only one reference to justice in the top 25 songs. 

In contrast, the same man found the Hebrew word for “justice” mentioned 65 times in 33 Psalms.

His conclusion…

When you ask what the Psalter says that we should be praising God for – the Lord’s justice is at the top of the list.

But most current hymns hide from the word “justice.” And the Psalms often seem to weaponize the word… in the sense that God will align with the afflicted to bring justice on the perpetrators.

Read in Psalm 82…

God has taken His place in the divine council (v. 1).

Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked (v. 4).

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations (v. 8).

I’m not a Hebrew scholar, so I read what Hebrews scholars teach about the meaning of the word translated “justice” in the Psalms.

Their descriptions…

Justice is a life and death situation and should not be ignored.

Life comes from following the path of justice.

The word often refers to equity.

Be told the truth – straightness, honesty, the path of truth.

To talk with those who disagree with us.

Those who follow the path of justice will suffer. Follow this path whether you win or lose.

This pursuit of justice will be here, for all our days of our existence to strengthen us.

We must seek justice for all our neighbors.

Justice is the presence of God.

Putting these implications together, below are my thoughts…

Christians should follow a path of justice for everyone. We understand justice is life and death for many and we should be willing to suffer for the justice of all. We will be strengthened by seeking justice and experience the presence of God. In truth and justice, God is glorified!

We should not hide from justice, nor weaponize the word for personal or political gain. Neither response is Biblical.

I pray that popular Psalmists in today’s culture will sing about finding the presence of God in justice. 

I hope that one of the new songs becomes a top 25 hit.