Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Judges are not to show partiality in judgement

It is not good to show partiality to the wicked, or to overthrow the righteous in judgement (NKJV).

It is not good to accept the person of the wicked (that is, to favour him & support him), to cause the righteous to fall in judgement (Geneva).

It’s not right to go easy on the guilty, or come down hard on the innocent (Message).

To show partiality to the wicked is not good, nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgement (NASB).

It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice (NIV). [Proverbs 18:5]

The foundation of this Scripture is in Leviticus 19:15:

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly (NIV).

You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbour fairly (NASB).

You shall not do unjustly in judgement. You shall not favour the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty, but you shall judge your neighbour justly (Geneva).

You shall do no injustice in judgement. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbour (NKJV).

Commenting on the above verse, R.J. Rushdoony, in his commentary on the Book of Leviticus, wrote:

“In (Lev. 19:5) we are told that justice means no respect for persons, i.e., no favouritism to the poor because they are poor, or to the rich because they are rich, nor to anyone in terms of their race or religion. Thus, while the law insists on the protection of the poor from injustice, it does not allow injustice to prevail out of partiality for them. Class justice is an untenable doctrine, but it is now the basic doctrine of socialism in all forms, and always evil. Justice is to be done to all, because justice is not a class doctrine but God’s nature and His requirement of us.

“In order to facilitate impartiality in a trial, some Jewish authorities, especially Maimonides, held that both parties in a case, the rich and the poor, had to be dressed alike and seated alike. Bonar said,

‘Causes must be heard, not persons,’ says Trappe. There must be in us no affection of kindness to the poor, even as there must be no fawning flattery of the great. Especially in matters of judgement the judge must be impartial. The eye of God is on him; and as He is a just God, and without iniquity, He delights to see His own attributes shadowed forth in the strict integrity of an earthly judge.

If these are God’s holy principles, it follows that the misery and oppression and suffering of the lower classes will furnish no reason for their acquittal at His bar, if they be found guilty. Suffering in this world is no blotting out of sin. Hence we find at Christ’s appearing, “the great and the mighty men, and every bondman,” cried to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne” (Rev. VI. 15).

“The law cannot be man’s will or purpose, but only God’s word, the expression of His nature. Thus, the modern beliefs in class justice, racial justice, economic justice, and so on, are all perversions of justice and law: they enthrone man’s will as law. Verse 15 (of Leviticus 19) sums up the preceding verses and is also a preface to the following verses of Leviticus 19.

“Noth is right in stating that this is not simply a word to judges, but to all members of the community. Hence it is that the next verse, closely tied to v. 15, condemns slander.

“If these are laws of justice, then why are they interspersed with laws requiring charity? If the earth is the Lord’s (Ex. 9:29), then we rob God when we do not tithe, when we do not give Him what is His rightful portion (Mal. 3:8-12), and we are again guilty of theft and injustice when we are not given to charity. Charity is not the poor’s due in essence, but it is God’s requirement of us; it is God’s possession, given to those to whom He assigns it.” (2005, R. J. Rushdoony, Commentaries on the Pentateuch: Leviticus, Ross House Books: Vallecito, California)

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