Solomon highlights matters pertaining to the courtroom. He delves into open minded judgments, bribes, difficult decisions, and repercussions.
My bible helps puts these verses in a courtroom context. I don’t know if I would have made that conclusion, except maybe for verse 17. I can see the logic so we will continue in that direction, unless the Spirit takes us somewhere else.
I can see several characters represented here in these verses. Verse 15 applies equally to a judge or jury member. Their task is to keep an open mind, listen to the facts presented, ask questions (when permitted), carefully consider the evidence, and make a reasoned judgement. In our system it is not the place of the jury to call for information not presented, or easily concluded, as evidence. They are prohibited from listening to other’s opinions or using their own biases when considering what was presented.
That last part can be VERY tricky because, even when we don’t recognize it, we all form opinions based on our own bias. The way a person talks, their clothes, which side of the issue they are on, how they speak, and their attitude can sway our minds to favor one party over the other. This shouldn’t happen but it does. Other’s biases add to our own and impact the final decision of a jury.
I would like to serve on a jury but when I was called to service the case settled. I could spend a LONG time on the jury, but let’s go on.
Verse 16 brings to mind bribes. We already know how God feels about bribes. And their weight unbalances justice. They have NO PLACE in a courtroom or decision of those in authority. Political lobbyists come to mind as bringing undue pressure or bribes to our whole system today in the United States of America. This too ought not to be!
The “gift” here could also be something entirely different. What if that “gift” is referring to a talent? That would make this verse about the advocates. They have worked hard to hone their skills at arguing for their client. Some have a natural talent for speaking in front of bodies of power. I KNOW I couldn’t stand before the Supreme Court and argue ANY case. But the advocate’s skills “makes room for him” before even the highest authority. He may stand before kings and queens as easily as before ‘dog court’.
Verse 17 reminds me of MANY battles I was part of or privy to in court during my life. Some people are GREAT salesmen. They can spin a web of lies so skillfully that everyone stands in awe and is ready to fall in line behind them. BUT when their lies are countered with facts it all falls apart. The cross examination is critical to get a balanced point of view and weed through the lies. It takes careful listening to find the hidden meaning and be able to draw out the truth. And sometimes careful digging to find facts to discredit the one feeding the court their lies.
Verse 18 gives the parties in a difficult case another option than the jury or judge’s verdict. They can put it in the Lord’s hands by using lots. This isn’t something we use today but Israel used it for very important decision in their history. They trusted God to render the RIGHT verdict through the lot. They didn’t ask for “the best two out of three.” They listened and obeyed. Nothing was as final as God’s judgement through the lot. No appeal, no introducing new evidence, no room for misinterpretation. End. Of. Story.
Verse 19 gives us the blowback of taking someone to court. Bringing an argument to the legal system should be the LAST resort. God tells us to try and work it out between the two parties on their own first. Next step would be to call in a mediator to ensure that both parties were heard. Only go to court if ALL else fails. Why? Because hard feelings develop in the judicial system. Walls are built between the two sides that take A LOT of work to knock down. If you have any doubts, think back to any divorced person you know. Listen to the hurt pour forth regarding their ex-spouse. You, more often than not, find bitterness, unforgiveness, hate, and even attempts to use the children against the other parent. These divisions never heal without God’s help. Each party has an opportunity to forgive but most don’t. And when the forgiveness is one sided the relationship will not stand. That would be like asking a three legged stool with only two legs to stand.
One thing I have learned over the years and the many experiences I have dealt with the court system is that God is STILL in control, WHEN YOU LET HIM BE. He will not wrestle the reins from your hands. He will not insist that you hire a specific lawyer. But He will give you the words to say and the ability to speak them at the appropriate time. He does NOT guarantee you will prevail in your case. Just look at Stephen. He was stoned to death for standing up for God in ‘court’. But the result afterwards had a profound impact on someone in the crowd. And Stephen actually won because he got to be with Jesus.
When you place yourself in God’s hands, HE makes things work out according to His plan. TRUST HIM to know what He is doing in your life!
Father God, thank You that YOU have my life in Your hands. You give me the words to say when I ask. Jesus stands as my advocate. And YOUR judgments are always true, even if I don’t like the outcome. I trust You nonetheless. Thank You for all the times You helped me in court and helped my friends too. I pray I never have to deal with a trial again! Let me speak Your words of mediation instead.