Two of the hardest questions of all time: If God is just and fair, why do bad things happen to good people, and why do good things happen to bad people? This week, we’re continuing our study on the attributes of God by focusing on His justice.

A Devotional Meditation on Psalm 97:1-2

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Psalm 97: 1-2

Our Series on the Attributes of God

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Today’s meditation is part of a series focused on the attributes of God. I’m using Chip Ingram’s The Real God: As He Longs for You to See Him and A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy as references for definitions and some insight. If you would like to learn more about each of these attributes, I recommend starting with Ingram’s book (he quotes Tozer often).

A Working Definition of God’s Justice

God is just. That means all he is and all he does is accomplished with perfect integrity, fairness, righteousness, and impartiality. Justice is not a standard God follows; he is the standard. Though full of goodness, infinite in love, and merciful to the repentant, God’s justice demands moral equity and eternal retribution for deeds done in the body. God’s justice mean no one will receive a “raw deal” in the final analysis. I can trust that he will one day balance the scales.

Chip Ingram, The Real God: As He Longs for You to See Him

Devotional on the Justice of God

This is a hard one. People lose faith or never accept faith over the mystery of the justice of God. I am far from being qualified to write about this at length, but there are some truths I can hold fast to:

  1. We live in a fallen world that cannot be balanced as it is. That means we’re subjected to its sinful nature during this time. When we see good things happening to bad people and vice versa, we’re seeing the characteristics of our world, not the nature of God. “We are living in that brief segment of time during which a holy, just, good, compassionate, and sovereign God is interacting with a fallen world” (Ingram, pg. 154).
  2. God is justice. He sees all and knows all; He establishes the balance we seek. And a whisper of His justice is in the heart of mankind; we may fall short of it, but God put a longing for fairness in our hearts. “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:19-20)
  3. Jesus’ work on the cross reveals the justice of God. “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice” (Rom. 3:25). If God wasn’t just, we would not need Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Because He is just, we are condemned to death, but because He is also love, he offered Christ to us so that our condemnation may be eliminated.
  4. Balance will be restored when the new Kingdom reigns on earth. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom 12:17-19). We can lay down our own vengeance and hatred, because it’s God’s job to do that. In fact, Paul continues with ” ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:20-21).

Suggested Meditation

Below is a look at my dialogue with the Holy Spirit while meditating on this passage. I meditate on the same verse every day for at least a week, and this is just a model to get you started. Meditating on scripture is a very personal journey and relationship with God, but you may find my Meditation Guide helpful. Subscribe now to my Newsletter and get immediate access to a Free Printable Library that includes meditation guidelines, a Meditation Journal Page, Scripture Writing pages, and bookmarks for this verse.

The Lord reigns,: Father, you are forever on the throne. Now … to come … from before the beginning. You are our constant sun, shining on a world that sometimes faces you and more often turns from you. Our understanding of you does not change your immutable, just nature.

let the earth be glad;: The earth rejoices. I rejoice that you are in control. That you are who you say you are. That your justice knows more than I do, and understands better than I could ever conceive.

let the distant shores rejoice.: The whole earth knows you. All of creation rejoices at your name. I can rest in the power of your known presence.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him;: Your ways are a mystery. We cannot see them or you. Our minds are too small, our sin is too great. We walk by faith that those clouds will be rolled away, and we will one day stand fully in your presence.

Righteousness: You are good, upright, worthy, pure. I am silent and allow your righteousness to soothe me.

and justice: You are fair. You are the judge. You put all things in balance. It is the basis of who you are. I am quiet and rest. I turn over all my struggles to your justice.

are the foundation of his throne.: What an amazing king you are. The very foundations of your rule are set in goodness and justice.

Suggested Breath Prayers

For more info on Breath Prayers, visit the article You’re Just a Breath Away From God.

The Lord Reigns

Righteousness is His Foundation

Justice is His Foundation

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ocean shoreline at sunset symbolizing God's justice on our fallen world