Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. (Psalm 89:14)
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. (Psalm 103:6)
The Lord is righteous, he is in her midst, he will do no unrighteousness. Every morning he brings his justice to light; he never fails, but the unjust knows no shame (Zephaniah 3:5).
Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is no one besides me (Isaiah 45:21).
Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.
We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful and loving. The Bible also says that God is just and righteous.
All of God’s attributes are in harmony with each other. They do not contradict each other. Therefore, the attributes of God provide the student of Scripture a multi-faceted perspective on the person and work of the One, True God.
To proclaim God is loving is not contradicted by also saying He is a God of wrath. To proclaim God is wrathful does not mean He is not the God of love. What counterbalances these two particular attributes are the Lord’s attributes of justice and righteousness. Therefore, we may initially conclude that God’s wrath is a just and righteous wrath and that God’s love is a just and righteous love.
Psalm 19:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” The word righteousness, from the Hebrew word sedeq, means accuracy, or that which is correct and right. It is doing what is right according to a standard. Righteousness is synonymous with honesty. Justice, from the Hebrew word mispat, literally means to make a decision in a court case. We may conclude that God renders decisions regarding the punishment of sinners in an accurate, correct and righteous way.
Theologian Charles Hodge writes, “The word justice, or righteousness, is used in Scripture sometimes in a wider and sometimes in a more restricted sense. In theology, it is often distinguished as “justitia interna,” or moral excellence, and “justitia externa,” or rectitude of conduct. In Hebrew it means, in a physical sense, straight; and in a moral sense, right, what is as it should be. It means rightness, that which satisfies the demands of rectitude or law.”
Dr. Hodge continues by saying, “When we regard God as the author of our moral nature, we conceive of Him as holy; when we regard Him in his dealings with his rational creatures, we conceive of Him as righteous. He is a righteous ruler; all his laws are holy, just, and good. In his moral government He faithfully adheres to those laws. He is impartial and uniform in their execution. As a judge he renders unto every man according to his works. He neither condemns the innocent, nor clears the guilty; neither does He ever punish with undue severity. Hence the justice of God is distinguished as rectoral, or that which is concerned in the imposition of righteous laws and in their impartial execution; and distributive, or that which is manifested in the righteous distribution of rewards and punishment. The Bible constantly represents God as a righteous ruler and a just judge. Notwithstanding all the apparent inequalities in the distribution of his favours; notwithstanding the prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous, the conviction is everywhere expressed that God is just; that somehow and somewhere He will vindicate his dealings with men, and show that He is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works.”
To say God is holy refers to who God is by nature. To say God is just and righteous refers to what God does on the basis of His holy nature.
Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon comments, “Man’s injustice shall receive retribution at the hand of God. Mercy to His saints demands vengeance on their persecutors, and He will repay it. No blood of martyrs shall be shed in vain; no groans of confessors in prison shall be left without inquisition being made concerning them. All wrongs shall be righted, all the oppressed shall be avenged. Justice may at times leave the courts of man, but it abides upon the tribunal of God. For this every right- minded person will bless God.”
Take time today to thank God that He is just and righteous. We may not always understand why things happen the way they do, but we can rest assured that God will do what is right.
Soli deo Gloria!