The Do’s and Don’ts of Justice – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. According to Proverbs 21:3 (printed below,) how highly does the Lord (Jehovah) value justice?

It is more acceptable to Jehovah to practice righteousness and justice than to offer sacrifices. (Proverbs 21:3)

The Word of God consistently confronts us with the fact that true religion is not limited to the offering of Sunday worship, but also consists in adhering to the law of God in our everyday lives. Because He Himself is a God of justice, the Lord requires that we as His people value justice, practice justice, and promote justice (note Isaiah 1:11,17).

2. Consider Proverbs 22:28 (printed below.) Why do you suppose someone would be tempted to move the boundary stone? What is the general principle of this commandment that applies to our dealings with our neighbors?

Do not move the ancient boundary stone erected by your forefathers. (Proverbs 22:28)

The removal of the boundary stone was designed to increase one’s own land holdings or the value of one’s property, but it was done at the expense of justice and fairness. The general principle of this proverb as it applies to our dealings with our neighbors is as follows: avoid deceitful and unscrupulous practices designed to take advantage of your neighbor for your own betterment, such practices violate God’s justice and shall not go unpunished.

3. Contrast Proverbs 24:29 (printed below) with Matthew 7:12 (also printed below.)

Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me, I will repay the man according to his deed.” (Proverbs 24:29)

Therefore, with regard to all things, do to others what you would want them to do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Note how “I will do to him as he has done to me”—although it is the natural response of the human heart—is the opposite of the divine commandment: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Note, also, the instruction given by the apostle Paul, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. …(21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17,21) We can only heed these commandments of Scripture by submitting ourselves to the Holy Spirit and relying on His transforming grace.

4. What is the two-fold counsel (command) given in Proverbs 20:22 (printed below?) Why are we given this counsel and command?

Do not say, “I will repay evil.” Wait for Jehovah and he will save you. (Proverbs 20:22)

We are forbidden to take matters of justice into our own hands. When we engage in acts of personal retribution (be they to avenge personal injury or societal evil), we are usurping a prerogative God has reserved for Himself (Romans 12:19) and which He has delegated to His appointed authority, the government (Romans 13:4b). What are we instructed to do? We are to “Wait for Jehovah,” and to do so with confidence. Note Genesis 18:25b, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

5. According to Proverbs 29:26 (printed below,) who is the only true and reliable administrator of justice?

Many seek an audience with the ruler, but it is from Jehovah that a man receives justice. (Proverbs 29:26)

Many people who appeal to the judge and civil authorities for justice—and rightly so because they are supposed to administer justice—are disappointed, because sinful men pervert justice. We are reminded that our justice ultimately and surely comes from the Lord: “Surely the justice I deserve is with Jehovah, and my reward is with my God.” (Isaiah 49:4b)