Proverbs 17:26

Injustice is Not Good


1. There are several “not good” proverbs in this book.

2. They are Solomon’s observations on various aspects of life—and they are usually pretty obvious—as is this one.

3. NOT GOOD: punishing good citizens, or resisting good rulers.

4. Solomon tells us something that is not good—that anyone with common sense would recognize.

5. However, such statements ARE necessary, because it happens often in corrupt societies—that things get turned upside down… and the obvious isn’t always obvious to the average citizen. Common sense and fairness do not always prevail.

6. Isa. 5:20 – Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

7. We live in confusing days… wherein common sense and fairness are often turned upside down.

8. This seems to be what Solomon is speaking about in this proverb.

26a Also to punish the just is not good

1. Punishing the just is NOT good. It is evil.

a. 18:5 – overthrowing the righteous in judgment… is not good.

b. 17:15 – condemning the just is an abomination. It is exceptionally evil.

c. Rom. 13:3-4 – Rulers are NOT a terror to good works.
• Solomon speaks here about the times when magistrates ARE a terror to good works!
• When just men—innocent, good men—do that which is good and just and are punished by the government… that is an abomination.
• Magistrates are to be a terror to EVIL, not to good citizens.

2. This subject was important to Solomon. He was a King who also functioned as a Judge.

a. Judges were required to do that which was RIGHT… and true.

b. Judges were to get at the truth… and treat people fairly.

c. I Kings 3:16-25 – Solomon’s first difficult case.
• Solomon had before his bench a case that had no evidence… no DNA evidence to prove who was the real mother… no eyewitnesses… nothing to go on.
• There were no legal technicalities to let the guilty person off the hook… no plea bargains offered… no loopholes…
• Solomon as a judge was simply interested in getting at the truth—and treating the innocent party fairly.
• He used a pretty unorthodox method of getting to the truth… but he DID get to the truth.

3. If justice is anything, it is doing that which is RIGHT… in accordance with the TRUTH… and treating people FAIRLY.

a. The old fashioned common sense principles of righteousness, justice, and truth are losing ground rapidly in our country.

b. Our court system seems not as interested in truth, justice, and fairness as in being politically correct… or technically correct.

c. As a result, justice is not executed.

4. Examples:

a. In Florida, a forty-eight-year-old man sentenced to life in prison for raping a thirteen-year-old girl with muscular dystrophy was released when the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that the rapist had been convicted with the wrong charge. The charge, “sexual battery of a helpless person,” was deemed unfair in the court’s opinion since the girl had screamed for help and tried to push the man away. Instead of the maximum thirty-year sentence, the rapist served only a few months for battery.

b. In New Jersey, the Supreme Court decided that a robber convicted of purse snatching had been wrongly sentenced since he slipped the purse off the victim’s arm quietly and did not actually “snatch” it.

c. Electronics retailer Radio Shack recently settled a claim by a man who said post-traumatic stress, caused by his previous robbery of a Radio Shack store, was to blame for his robbery of the store a second time. Many such cases are being settled rather than submitted to the antics of lawyer theatrics and sympathetic juries.

d. The just… the innocent victims are punished and the criminal gets away with his crime.

e. Evidently Solomon saw similar shenanigans in the judicial system of his day… and said, “It is not good!”

f. It is not good for citizens to be treated unfairly.

g. Today hundreds of men who were wrongly convicted of crimes are being exonerated by DNA evidence that was unavailable to them when their case was heard.

h. But that tells us that many JUST men are being punished…
• Often the injustice is due to race or social class.
• Bigotry blinds jurors to the truth or fairness.
• Social class results in miscarriages of justice—just because a person is not able to afford a good lawyer.
• Solomon says that this is NOT good for a country.

5. As Christians, we may one day be punished for being JUST.

a. We may be punished for spanking our children… (which is the RIGHT thing to do… just!)

b. We may be punished for evangelizing…

c. We may be punished for preaching against sin… and against sinful lifestyles.

d. We may be punished for not allowing women preachers…

e. In some small ways, it is happening already in America. It could begin to happen on a much bigger scale.

f. Sometimes people are punished for doing the RIGHT thing… for being just… and that is NOT good.

g. This was certainly the case in the crucifixion of Christ. He was a Just man… sinless… and was punished for speaking the truth.

h. Those who follow Christ can expect nothing better—the servant is not better than his master.

i. But God has given us a remedy for this kind of injustice: the Throne of grace!

j. We are therefore to PRAY for those in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (I Tim. 2:1-2)

26b Nor to strike princes for equity

1. But as a king, he also saw the other side of the coin.

a. The citizenry did not always treat their nobles, princes, and officials fairly or justly either.

b. It was also NOT GOOD for the people to STRIKE princes for their uprightness.

c. It is not good to strike them physically or verbally.

d. Princes and those in positions of authority are representatives of God… in His authority…

2. Sometimes governmental officials made pronouncements that were just and fair—and it caused upheaval among the citizens.

a. People in positions of power and authority have ALWAYS made enemies—even in carrying out their responsibilities in justice and equity.

b. There will always be those who seek to undermine their authority… and to rebel… resist and strike at the ruler any way they can.

c. There have often been rebels and criminals who have a lot of popular grass roots support—like a Robin Hood.

d. Those in charge are responsible to punish such men—regardless of their popularity—for their criminal behavior…

e. When that happens, the people often take it out on those in positions of authority, like the judge or the prince…

f. They will STRIKE the prince—flog him—maybe even hang him… and for what? For equity: for doing that which is right!

g. Solomon says that that is not good either. That too is not fair.

h. People in positions of power and authority often find themselves in awkward positions… especially on divisive issues.
• If a judge rules one way, half the people involved will be angry at him… and vice versa.
• We had a case not too long ago where a man shot a judge because of his ruling in divorce court…
• Judges make enemies in carrying out justice.

3. All of this teaches us an important lesson about God… a truth repeated countless times in the Word: God is a God of Justice!

a. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do RIGHT?

b. God is no respecter of persons.

c. When this world whose god is the devil is destroyed and the Kingdom of the Messiah takes over the rule of the earth, JUSTICE will reign! (Jer. 23:5)

d. II Sam. 8:15 – David ruled in justice over the land.

e. Ecc. 5:8 – God NOTICES every act of injustice—and one day He will set the record straight.

4. This principle is not just for kings and judges!

a. As believers we should LOVE righteousness (justice) and hate iniquity.

b. Phil. 4:8 – We are to fill our minds with thoughts of justice.

c. Prov. 1:3 – if we haven’t been fair or just, we should respond to correction in that area.

d. If you are an employer or a boss at work and have people under you—it is NOT good to punish the just. Be fair!

e. And if you are an employee—it is not good to resist a boss who is just trying to do his job in an equitable way. Don’t rebel against him just because he is following company policy! That’s not fair.