For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
Psalm 11 explains God’s relationship to justice in terms of love. Verse 7 reads, “For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds.” This translation is possible, though it could also be rendered, “For the just LORD loves justice” or “For the righteous LORD loves righteous deeds.” The Hebrew uses the adjective tzaddiq in reference to the Lord and the plural noun tzedaqot to depict that which he loves. Even without knowing Hebrew, you can see the close relationship between these two words, which are based on the tz-d-q root.
In English, we often make a distinction between righteousness and justice. Righteousness has to do more with personal morality, with acting rightly according to some standard. Justice is a matter of legality or societal structures. In Hebrew, however, the words based on the tz-d-q root embrace both personal morality and legal/social relationships. Thus, God as tzaddiq is both righteous and just. God loves both personal righteousness and social justice.
Why? Why is God a lover of righteousness and justice? Because these realities reflect God’s own nature. When we do what is right, we are not just acting properly, but also mirroring God’s own nature. The same is true when we seek justice in our relationships, our work, and in our world.
Doing what God loves is surely a sufficient motivation for us as we live our lives in this world. Whether in the workplace or in the civic square, whether among our neighbors or in our families, whether in our leadership or followership, we want to do the things that God loves. But verse 7 adds a further motivation for such behavior: “The upright will behold his face.” When we live in a way that pleases God, we will see God more clearly. Our hearts and minds will be attuned to the Lord so that we might be attuned to his presence both within and around us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you truly desire to do that which God loves? What increases this desire? What conflicts with this desire?
How might you live today as a reflection of God’s own righteousness and justice?
God of righteousness and justice, may I love what you love. May I desire what you desire. May I seek what you seek. May I live in such a way that you love my deeds, my relationships, my work.
Help me, I pray, to consider you as I live my life today. Even when I’m doing that which tends to be called “secular,” may I do it for your delight and glory because it all matters to you.
Gracious God, may I see your face. May I know you more truly. May I continuously grow in my relationship with you. Amen.
P.S. An earlier version of this devotion appeared at The High Calling. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.