Proverbs 17:15

Justifying the Wicked
And Condemning the Just



1. Solomon seems to have the judicial system of a nation in mind here.

2. Justice is important to God.

3. Justice ought to be important in human government as well… since it was the Lord who instituted human government. (Rom. 13:3)

4. Solomon, as the King in Israel, also functioned as Judge.

a. Judicial matters that were not easily adjudicated in the court system came to the King… as a sort of Supreme Court.

b. You recall the case of the two women who both claimed to be the mother of the living child… and claimed the other was the mother of the child who died.

c. That case was brought to Solomon…

5. Thus, Solomon had a concern for justice in the land.

a. And as an observer of human nature, he also noticed that justice did not always prevail.

b. He noticed that sometimes justice was twisted and perverted.

c. I Kings 8:32 – as King, this was the prayer of Solomon – that God would execute justice in the land.

d. We too are encouraged to PRAY for those in positions of authority in our country… pray for our president. Pray for the judicial system too.

e. Pray for justice—and equality for ALL in our land.

f. That’s what this proverb is all about: justice in the land, and what GOD thinks about perverted justice.

He that justifieth the wicked

1. The Wicked:

a. This term is not a general term for wickedness in general or evil. It has LEGAL connotations.

b. Strong’s: guilty one; one guilty of crime.

c. Zodhiates: in the wrong, guilty, criminal.

d. Guilty, i.e., pertaining to being legally not innocent of a violation of law (Ps. 109:7)

2. The wicked are to be CONDEMNED by the judge. (Deut. 25:1)

a. Justifying the wicked is a terrible abuse of a judicial system. It is twisted, perverted, crooked, unfair, unjust, and unreasonable.

b. It is also a violation of the Mosaic Law. The law required justice.

3. Justifying the wicked = acquitting guilty persons in court.

a. A two year old can understand how WRONG this is…

b. But sometimes, it happens… and Solomon observed it.

c. Sometimes it happens through no fault of the court system.
• Witnesses lie in court… (Ex. 23:1)
• Evidence is tampered with… or accidentally mislabeled…
• Eye witnesses sometimes have a faulty recollection…
• Sometimes there is a preponderance of circumstantial evidence that makes a person LOOK guilty…
• Sometimes when all the evidence is laid out, honest, well meaning jurors draw the wrong conclusions.
• Sometimes there’s just not enough evidence available to condemn a guilty criminal.
• Human error is always a possibility… and many a guilty person has been exonerated… justified… because of human error.
• We hear almost weekly about innocent men who were convicted 10, 20, even 30 years ago for crimes they did not commit—and are just now being exonerated due to DNA evidence that did not exist at the time.
• Many of those cases were honest mistakes made based on the evidence they had…
• But that does NOT seem to be the scenario Solomon describes here.
• Solomon seems to be speaking here about INTENTIONAL injustice…

d. Injustice also occurs and it IS the fault of the system.
• Deut. 25:1 – why do you suppose this law had to be instituted in Israel? Doesn’t that go without saying?
• It was instituted because sometimes judges were crooked… and God wanted a law on the books to DEAL with that situation.
• Sometimes they justify the wicked out of popular demand (Ex. 23:2)
• Sometimes those in positions of power justify the wicked upon a bribe… or because of some other means of personal gain. (Ex.23:8)
• Sometimes they justify the wicked to keep their job…
• A judge might justify the wicked because the one he knows to be the guilty party is a friend or relative…
• A judge might do so as a favor to another corrupt official.
• Sometimes they justify the wicked to promote their own political agenda.

4. Intentionally justifying the wicked is what Solomon calls an abomination to the Lord.

a. This is a travesty of justice…

b. It is inexcusable…

c. It is an abomination to God. God hates it.

And he that condemneth the just

1. This is another travesty of justice… and equally abominable in God’s sight.

2. Again—it appears that Solomon is not speaking about UN-intentional injustice… or honest mistakes made due to human error… but rather to INTENTIONAL injustice… condemning the just on PURPOSE.

3. This too occurs.

a. This often occurs because of prejudice… bias… and bigotry. That is an abomination to the Lord. He hates it…
• And it happens in this country! Pray for our judicial system…
• Things are improving along these lines—but there will always be racially biased men of all colors who judge according to the color of one’s skin.

b. Just men are also often condemned—yes even in our country—because of money—which he doesn’t have.
• A poor man cannot afford a fancy Philadelphia lawyer to represent him… and his wealthy opponent in court knows all the tricks of the trade to make him LOOK guilty… and thus be found guilty.
• I would not be surprised if we had thousands of innocent men in prison today because they could not afford a good lawyer.
• Ex. 23:6 – twisting judgment for the poor… to get the rich man off the hook. Because it is human nature to do so, God made a law against it.

c. When the people feel they are not getting a fair shake with the government… instability and erosion of the society occurs.
• Prov. 24:23, 24 – there is to be no respect of persons… or the people will rise up against that kind of injustice in the land.

d. Lady Justice is pictured as holding a balance/scale… and being blindfolded.
• She is blindfolded so she can’t see whether the person before the court is dressed in rags or riches…
• Or whether he is red, yellow, black, or white… so she will not judge according to appearance.
• She is to judge according to the facts of the case.
• That is the RIGHT principle… the right system…—but unfortunately, the system is full of PEOPLE and all people are sinners.
• There are corrupt policemen, corrupt lawyers, corrupt judges, corrupt witnesses… and unfortunately, the system doesn’t work perfectly.

4. What we REALLY need is a truly RIGHTEOUS judge—as the One mentioned in Isa. 11:3-5.

a. This judge is also omniscient… and omnipresent… and omnipotent…

b. He doesn’t need any DNA evidence. He doesn’t even need any fancy lawyers to present the facts of the case.

c. He can pierce into the hearts of men. He doesn’t even need the case to be presented before Him.

d. This judge does that which is RIGHT. (Gen. 18:25)

e. This judge will reign as King and Judge—and will execute judgment and justice in the land… (Jer. 23:5)

f. But until that day… when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom, we have a judicial system run by fallen, frail, sinful creatures.

g. Until He comes, we will have guilty murderers like Barabbas set free… and innocent men—like the Lord Jesus condemned o die.

h. No wonder we are commanded to PRAY for kings and for ALL that are in authority (I Tim. 2:1-2). Their decisions affect OUR lives.

Even they both are abomination to the LORD

1. Injustice is an abomination because God of who God is…

a. He is a righteous God… a just God.

b. He is a Judge of all the earth, who does RIGHT.

c. Justice and righteousness is part of Whom God is… it is His nature.

2. We even see this kind of behavior exhibited in arenas OUTSIDE the courtroom… in the courtroom of public opinion.

a. It has become quite popular and commonplace today to look down upon and condemn those who promote wholesome, family values… condemning the just in popular opinion.

b. It is also becoming commonplace for the wicked to be justified—whether in the area of abortion… or gay marriage… spanking children… or even evangelizing…

c. That which is just and right is condemned…

d. That which is wicked and wrong is justified…

e. Prov.18:5 – it is not right—but it is happening more and more frequently today.

f. Isa.5:20 – Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.

3. Psalm 94:17-23 – don’t be discouraged; for in the end, God wins.

a. In the meantime, David refused fellowship with those who perverted justice. (vs. 20)

b. David saw and was troubled by the injustice in the land. (vs. 21)

c. But it did not move him. He stood firm on a solid rock! (vs. 22)

d. He trusted that in God’s good time, justice would ultimately prevail—regardless of how strong the evil appears in the present. (vs. 23)

e. Proverbs 12:2 – God is just and fair. Nobody ever escapes His justice in the end.

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