Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them. Proverbs 22, verses 22 and 23.
Yes we have been here before. You know the drill by now: we are all the poor. We are all the needy. We all greatly in need of wise and competent counsel who will take up our case and plunder our oppressors. This is the point where Dave says “but there’s something else, right?” Right?
No, instead, let’s look at it literally and legally. My opinion of the legal system is, like most, jaded by the media and by my limited exposure to it. 95% of most legal work isn’t “Law and Order” and chances are I will never even set foot in the Supreme Court for anything other than a tourist visit. I know a few attorneys, though, and they’re generally good people. At one point in my life, I even courted the idea of going to law school but then someone told me the joke about ‘why do you bury lawyers 12 feet down instead of 6?’ (‘Because deep down they’re good people.’ Substitute officers, bosses, texting Congressmen, or whatever title you want for ‘lawyers.’). I just don’t have it in me to do what an attorney does.
But thank God we have them, you know? Thank God there are people who can intercede for us when we get in trouble with authority. Thank God there are people who are competent, have ‘made the grade’ and can stand toe to toe with the justice system and plead on our behalf. Thank God that there are people who translate justice to us and make it usable in our lives.
Thank God for Jesus, eh? Hold that thought and see where it takes us.
Let’s think of ourselves as a defendant. I don’t have a lot of money, so if I ever got sued or had to go to court for something, it could easily break me. If I were the plaintiff in a case, I would pay dearly for good (or even bad) legal representation. Through it, though, this proverb says that God would be with me, on my side. When I am seeking support and legal absolution, I need help. I need someone to stand beside me and translate legal terms to me, someone to argue my case fairly and competently. I can argue and debate, but I’m not qualified to do so in a courtroom setting. I would need someone to help me do what I couldn’t do myself. I would need someone to look at the facts of my life and plead to keep me out of punishment.
I need God, see?
Or what if you’re the plaintiff? What if I’m the person who is wronged? I have no interest in persecuting the poor; I’m poor enough in my own ways. Occasionally, though, I may need help pursuing justice against someone who has wronged me. Just as if I were a defendant, I’m not qualified to argue the matter myself. I can research the points of law, maybe even the precedents, procedures and such to inform myself, but I’m still not qualified to go it on my own. I need someone who can represent me to the judge and plead my case to right a wrong.
Again, I need God, see? God Himself, as His only Son, did this. It really isn’t very hard to understand nor is it wrapped in archaic legal terminology. There is no fine print or legal disclaimer. He intercedes for me and you, pleading our case before a Father whose holiness needs righteous justice. That same Father wants us to be holy and to always share in His goodness, but He saw how our wrongs came in-between us and Him. He put off His holiness and came here to make things right and to do what we couldn’t. Then He returned home to stand as my counsel, your counsel, constantly arguing our case. His pure innocence plunders the impure wickedness in which we revel, and He is constantly waiting to stand on our side.
I like looking at the Proverbs from different angles because, as I hope you’ve seen too, I see them applying in so many ways other than just the obvious. Here, though, I think it helps to look at it literally and think of Christ as our interceder, our counsel and attorney. When God the Father, the ultimate judge, looks at me He looks through the interceding counsel of Christ and doesn’t see the ugly, unjust, terrible things I’ve done. He looks at me and sees His creation remade through His loving self. Instead of penance or punishment, he justifies me and slams down His gavel saying “not guilty.” On my own, I’m not qualified to argue that. I’m guilty. I’m not even a lawyer, officer, boss or sexting Congressman: deep down, without my sins absolved, I’m not a good person. That’s why I need God Himself to argue my case every day and in every situation. The best thing is that He doesn’t charge me $300 per hour to listen. Instead, He even paid my bill Himself. How cool is that!