Archives for posts with tag: widows

Hate wrong、 and love right, And station Justice in the gate,— Peradventure Yahweh、 God of hosts、 will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:15, EMPH)

I’m reading through The Emphasized Bible this year for my Bible reading.  It’s not a great translation, and the language is definitely dated, but it has moments when I really like the way it translates individual verses, as here for instance.  I like the imagery that is produced by the words: station Justice in the gate.

The translator capitalizes “Justice” to force us to think about her as “Lady Justice,” as this concept that, because God is God, must be obviously present in the life of Israel.  The reason that Justice should be stationed in the gate is because it was in the gates of the city where the city elders sat and adjudicated civil (and criminal) matters that concerned the city and its inhabitants.  So if Lady Justice is sitting in the gates of a particular city, then that city will be righteous because her affairs will be handled rightly, in a way that honors God.

Therefore, if Lady Justice is present, the wealthy will not be preferred over the poor, but the two will be equal when it comes to matters of law.  Orphans and widows will not be neglected because they do not have a champion, instead the law will ensure that they are treated fairly and correctly.  The problem in Amos’ time was that justice was not being done, widows and orphans were neglected, wrong was loved and right was hated.  Everything was topsy-turvy to the way that God had commanded the life of the nation to operate.  Amos rightly condemns this.

As followers of Christ we ought to be on the side of Lady Justice, not when it is convenient, or when we happen to agree with it, and not when it is merely politically expedient to do so.  We ought to be on the side of justice because this is God-honoring, and we ought to be there no matter the consequences to our reputation or particular choice in political parties.


To the fatherless he is a Father,
To the widow he is a Champion Friend.
To the lonely, he gives a family.
To the prisoner, he leads into prosperity
Until they each sing for joy.
This is our Holy God in his Holy Place! (Psalms 68:5, Passion Translation)

Here David lists some characteristics of our God.  What strikes me about them is that they are focused on the weakest and most vulnerable members of society: Orphans, widows, prisoners, and the lonely.  The broader cultural conception of “gods” at the time David wrote was that they were mainly interested in themselves and in their own desires, thus men had to appease them or seek their favor.  Gods generally weren’t interested in the unfortunate, neither were men.  It’s just the way things were.

David upends all of this.  The God of Israel was interested in people and specifically he was interested in protecting the most vulnerable members of society, those who had no one to champion their interests!  Indeed, what God appears to be doing is reversing the fortune (or rather lack therof) of the people in society who had the worst “luck.”  He would be a father to orphans, he would be a “Champion Friend” to widows, he would grant a family to those who did not have one, and the prisoner would go from poverty to prosperity.  About none of this was the culture concerned at all, but God was concerned, he knew.

The end result: The least cared for members of society would sing for joy.  This is God’s heart and it ought to be our heart also.

Spurgeon writes here: “This was a great cause for joy to Israel, that they were ruled by the ONE who would not suffer the poor and needy to be oppressed. To this day and for ever, God is, and will be, the peculiar guardian of the defenceless.”

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (Deuteronomy 14:28–29, ESV)

This is referring to a second tithe that God commanded for the Israelites which was to be used to support the Levites–they had no land because their purpose was to serve the Lord–and the stranger/sojourner, orphans and widows.  Obedience to this command was met with the promise that God himself would bless their labors and make them prosper.

We see here God’s heart of compassion for the weakest and most vulnerable in society.  We know that supporting widows and orphans and strangers/foreigners did not stop in the New Testament, it was just as important to followers of Christ as it was to Jews under the Old Covenant.  There are many things in the Bible that are difficult to understand and not particularly clear; this, however, is not one of them.  We know with absolute certainty that if we are to call ourselves followers of Christ, then we have the duty and privilege to minister to the most vulnerable members of our society.  We start with those in the church around us who need help, but then look outward to those in society who need help. This honors God.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5, ESV)

We would do well to absorb these words from David here.  We are apt to think that an orphan has no father and that widows are alone in the world and unprotected from harm and injustice.  Quite the opposite says David, God is the Father of the fatherless and God is the one who protects widows.

One might properly conclude that, of all people on earth, the ones we least want to get on the wrong side of are orphans and widows.  Do you want to be opposing God?  I certainly do not.

At the end of history, God the great Father of widows and orphans will make all things good, right, and just.  He will implement shalom for his children, for the widows and orphans whom everyone assumed had no father.  That will be a day of reckoning the likes of which we cannot imagine.

“To this day and for ever, God is, and will be, the peculiar guardian of the defenceless. He is the President of Orphanages, the Protector of Widows. He is so glorious that he rides on the heavens, but so compassionate that he remembers the poor of the earth. How zealously ought his church to cherish those who are here marked out as Jehovah’s especial charge. Does he not here in effect say, “Feed my lambs”? Blessed duty, it shall be our privilege to make this one of our life’s dearest objects.” – Charles Spurgeon

  James 1:27

The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world. (CJB)
Sometimes the Scriptures are so clear and transparent that you see the interpretation without half trying.  This verse is a good example.  If you don’t notice here that God’s heart is for widows and orphans, then something is seriously wrong with you because James is clear here with inescapable clarity. 
We can argue about this or that aspect of our faith, but when it comes to widows and orphans God’s instructions are clear: we are to care for them in their distress, aid them when they need aid; support them when no one else does.
The other clear directive here is that we are called to holiness.  The word James uses that CJB translates contaminated is aspilon, which means “without spot.”  How difficult that is in our day when we are assaulted on all sides by our culture, but we have no release because of difficulty. We are to be different from the world.