They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 1 Samuel 8:3
In the 1960s, the bustling community of North Lawndale, on Chicago’s West Side, was a pilot community for interracial living. A handful of middle-class African Americans bought homes there on “contract”—that combined the responsibilities of home ownership with the disadvantages of renting. In a contract sale, the buyer accrued no equity, and if he missed a single payment, he would immediately lose his down payment, all his monthly payments, and the property itself. Unscrupulous sellers sold at inflated prices, then the families were evicted when they missed a payment. Another family would buy on contract, and the cycle fueled by greed just kept going.
Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel, and they were driven by greed. His sons “did not follow his ways” (1 Samuel 8:3). In contrast to Samuel’s integrity, his sons “turned aside after dishonest gain” and used their position to their own advantage. This unjust behavior displeased the elders of Israel and God, putting in motion a cycle of kings that fills the pages of the Old Testament (vv. 4–5).
To refuse to walk in God’s ways allows room for the perversion of those values, and as a result injustice flourishes. To walk in His ways means honesty and justice are clearly seen not only in our words but in our deeds as well. Those good deeds are never an end in themselves but always that others may see and honor our Father in heaven.
What current example of injustice are you aware of? What is one way you can work toward justice in that example?
God, injustice surrounds us on every side, often overwhelming our hearts. Help me to stand with those who suffer and commit my life to walking in Your ways.
To learn more about the life and time of Samuel, visit bit.ly/2pJSpwu.
A subtheme of this small section of Scripture—the evil practice of taking bribes and perverting justice as Samuel’s sons were doing (1 Samuel 8:3)—was a big concern of God’s prophets. The prophet Isaiah told the people of Judah, “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts” (Isaiah 1:23). Ezekiel noted, “In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor” (Ezekiel 22:12). Amos derided those “who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts” (Amos 5:12). Micah said, “The ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire” (Micah 7:3). We honor God when we work for justice for the poor and vulnerable.