Week of March 18 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Deuteronomy 1:17

You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ 

Reflect: What instruction was given to the judges?

Consider: The role of the judges in this early stage of Israel’s history is unusually well spelled out here (vv. 16–17). They were to hear cases involving fellow Israelites and even between Israelites and aliens, and they must render a just verdict (v. 16). Moreover, they must not be influenced by social status. The Hebrew idiom here (lōʾ takkîrû pānîm) means literally “do not regard faces,” that is, do not be impressed by the reputation or actual standing of parties who are subject to judgment. Indeed, such persons can be intimidating, so Moses went on to say to the judges, “Do not be afraid of the face of men” (lōʾ tāgûrû mippĕnê ʾîs) (v. 17). One might even render the last phrase, “Do not be afraid of human faces [that is, of men],” for the next clause emphasizes that judgment belongs to God. Since he is absolutely sovereign and furthermore knows the true guilt or innocence of parties in judgment, he, not human litigants, is to be feared. This suggests that fairness in judgment is a theological as well as legal matter. There may be the need for due process at the practical and human level, but the ultimate standard of righteousness and justice is that which inheres in the character of God himself.

Therefore, when human capacity for equitable judgment reaches its limits, appeal must be made ultimately to God.[1]

Respond: In what area of your life is prejudice most likely to show up? Is it social status? Economic? Racial? What feeds those thoughts? What changes do you need to make in your life to remove the influences that lead you to those kinds of thoughts?


[1] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 70–71.