Judging Righteously


Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, received an important reminder when returning from battle where he had escaped with his life only due to the LORD’s providence. He had allied himself with an ungodly man leading an ungodly nation; therefore, despite their kinship, the LORD’s wrath was upon him. His other good qualities preserved him, but his poor judgment almost cost him everything (2 Chr. 19:1-3). Taking this reproof to heart, he traveled throughout Judah to revive their faith in the LORD, setting up men to act as judges throughout the country (2 Chr. 19:4-5). While the responsibility given to these men was governmental and official, the focus demanded of them by Jehoshaphat was spiritual and moral. In giving them their charge, the king told the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes” (2 Chr. 19:6-7). He established a similar system in Jerusalem, using Levites and priests (2 Chr. 19:8) and telling them,  “Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (2 Chr. 19:9) in deciding cases, whether criminal or civil (2 Chr. 19:10). In addition, he gave oversight both to a religious leader and a civil leader, with Levites serving as liaison officers of a sort (2 Chr. 19:11a). But the responsibility fell on each individual judge to decide according to the Law, recognizing his responsibility not only to the king but more importantly to the LORD. Therefore, Jehoshaphat ended his exhortation by saying, “Behave courageously, and the LORD will be with the good” (2 Chr. 19:11b).

Whether making decisions as part of the government or as elders in the church, the admonition offered by Judah’s king serves as an important reminder of the responsibility underlying each and every decision. Leadership decisions at every level should seek the LORD’s will as the guiding force behind every judgment rendered. Sadly, in the days of extensive polling in politics and similar tactics in congregations, leaders do not always remember that their primary responsibility is to make a decision in keeping with the LORD’s will—honestly, fairly, and according to the law. Rather than allowing personalities or other social influences to alter a decision, integrity demands the courage to judge wisely following the LORD’s counsel. So much would improve should “after much study and prayer” become a reality instead of an excuse to do whatever you want. But as Jehoshophat reminded the judges of his day, the LORD is watching; therefore, take heed.

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