Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.” (Deuteronomy 1:16-17)
Moses was explicit in his instructions to these judges — they were to hear the issues that arose among the people without regard for station or status. Considering that he emphasized “hearing” the issues suggests they were not to make hasty decisions but to listen carefully and assess the issue after hearing. Furthermore, they were not to fear any man because of his influence or lack thereof but were to fear God because the judge was, in effect, God’s representative.
That is why it was (and is) very important that in hearing the cases that arise, they were to listen to the “small and great.” That means they were to hear and consider the smallest, most trivial issues and give them adequate attention just as they would the greater issues. It also means that they were to listen to every person and not judge according to different standards for the rich or for the poor. Because they were to be God’s representative, they were alerted to the fact that God was watching and listening as well.
I would suggest that this biblical standard is to be applied in any situation where a judgment must be made. Obviously, we want our courts to be just and our judges righteous but we need to employ the same standards in everyday life. The squabbles that unfortunately arise in our households should be judged in the same manner. The issues that arise in our congregations should be administered in the same way which amplifies the point made yesterday — leaders must possess knowledge, understanding and wisdom. We must remember that God is watching and listening; how we judge will determine how we are judged. Let us be mindful that in whatever situation we find ourselves, “justice is blind” and that “Wisdom is the principal thing” (Proverbs 4:7).
Blessings and Shalom,