The Scriptorium

Various Forms of Justice (4)

Valid principles in God's Law. Deuteronomy 25.11-19

A Holy Nation (4): Deuteronomy 24-26 (5)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 83.1-3
Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

Psalm 83.1-3
(St. Chrysostom: We Have not Known Thee as We Ought)
O God, do not be quiet now; do not be silent, nor be still!
See how Your foes erupt in a row and those who hate You chafe at Your will.
Shrewdly they plan, conspiring as one, against Your daughters and Your sons.

Today’s Text: Read Deuteronomy 25.11-19

Preparation
1. What do the statutes in verses 11-16 preserve?

2. Why was the nation of Amalek to be destroyed.

Meditation
Let’s start with the Amalekites, as this is an obvious case of retributive justice (vv. 17-19). The Amalekites consistently attacked the stragglers – those who were having trouble keeping up with the rest of the nation – as the people of Israel wandered through the wilderness. This went on for nearly forty years, even though Joshua led one strong attack against them en route to Canaan (Ex. 17.8-13). Their hostility against Israel continued into the later days of the judges, when Samuel finally oversaw the destruction of Amalek (1 Sam. 15). The war against Amalek was a just war, as God’s standards had clearly been violated. Here we see that God holds even unbelieving nations to His standards for holiness.

Verses 11-16 deal with violations of the eighth and ninth commandments. The situation in verses 11 and 12 involves a woman who “steals” the progeny of a man fighting with her husband. Her punishment is a form of retributive justice. This was a harsh punishment, perhaps so harsh, that anyone might think twice before doing what is described here.

The false weights and balances involved both lying and stealing (vv. 13-16). When merchants falsified their scales and measures, they were lying to their customers about how much they actually were purchasing. They were also stealing from them by charging them for more than they were receiving. We can assume that local judges would have exercised some oversight over weights and balances. The statutes addressed in these verses are forms of preventive justice – preventing injustice by making sure all measures are true beforehand. They also are forms of obligatory justice, because we owe truth to our neighbors.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“…that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget” (Deut. 25.19). You shall not forget. Remember. Blot out. So that they will be forgotten. Any way you look at it, as Israel was to deal with the Amalekites, so we must think about our sins. We must remember, and not forget, that we need a Savior to blot out our sins. As David prayed, “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities” (Ps. 51.9). Or as Peter preached, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3.19). And as Jesus wrote to the church in Sardis, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3.5). So we must not forget; we must remember that we are guilty of so much more than attacking stragglers. Our sins demand the we be blotted out. But because of Jesus, and the grace of God at work in our lives, our sins are blotted out. He remembers to forgive and remove them, so that we are not blotted out of the Book of Life! “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us…For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103.10-12, 14). We must remember our sins, and repent of them. We must not forget His forgiveness. And we rejoice that He has blotted out our sins forever: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31.34).

Reflection

1. Why is it important to remember that we are sinners? Why is it important to remember that Jesus has blotted out our sins?

2. How would you explain the basic principle embedded in the law of just weights and balances?

3. How can you see that this principle is still important today?

Dishonest gain always brings a curse on men’s property, families, and souls. Happy those who judge themselves, repent of and forsake their sins, and put away evil things, that they may not be condemned of the Lord.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Deuteronomy 25.13-16

Lord, help me to resist every temptation to stretch or withhold truth, so that I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 83.4-18
Pray for the Church in various places which is undergoing persecution. Ask God to give them courage and strength. Pray that He might shame their tormentors into believing in Him (v. 16).

Psalm 83.4-18
(St. Chrysostom: We Have not Known Thee As We Ought)
“Come, let us wipe them out,” they say. “Let Israel’s name no more be heard!”
Bold they conspire to do us away, and covenant against You, O Lord.
Peoples and nations cast in their lot for this ambitious, wicked plot.

Deal with them, Lord, and bring them down, as You against old foes prevailed,
When You Midian cast to the ground and all her kings and princes assailed –
all who Your pastures sought to possess You brought to ruin and deep distress.

Make them like whirling dust, O God!  Scatter them like the windblown chaff!
Rage like a fire consuming a wood, like flames that burn a mountain pass!
Blow like a tempest, bring them to harm, and terrify them with Your storm!

Fill with dishonor every face that they may seek Your Name, O Lord.
Bring them to shame, dismay, and disgrace, and let them perish under Your Word,
that they may learn Your infinite worth, O God Most High of all the earth!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore