Proverbs 24:23
These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judgment is not good.
The Ignobler and the Nobler SpiritE. Johnson Proverbs 24:17, 18, 29
Partiality and Equality in JudgmentE. Johnson Proverbs 24:23-25
Social ConductHomilistProverbs 24:23-26

I. RESPECT OF PERSONS. The literal translation is, "To distinguish persons in judgment is not good." The judge should be impartial as the pair of scales, the emblem of his office, and blind to the persons who appear before him, that is, to their rank and position, as the symbolical figure of Justice is represented to be. "One foul sentence doth more hurt than many foul examples; these do but corrupt the stream, the other corrupteth the fountain."

II. THE WILFUL PERVERSION OF RIGHT. (Ver. 24.) When the just man is suffered to fail in his cause before his adversary, the very nerve of public right is unstrung. It strikes a direct blow at the common weal, and hence brings down the curses of peoples and the enmity of states.

III. EQUAL AND JUST JUDGMENT. (Ver. 25.) "A judge ought to prepare his way to a just sentence, as God useth to prepare his way, by raising valleys and taking down hills; so when there appeareth on either side a high hand, violent persecution, cunning advantages taken, combination, power, great counsel, then is the virtue of a judge seen to make inequality equal; that he may plant his judgment as upon an even ground" (Bacon). In the present text the glance is towards a proper and due severity, which will not allow the wicked to escape. "Odium may equally be incurred by him who winks at crime and by him who has no regard to mercy. For in causes of life and death, judges ought, as far as the law permits, in justice to remember mercy, and to cast a severe eye upon the example, but a merciful eye upon the person" (Bacon). The purity of the judicial bench is one of the greatest of public blessings. Let us be thankful that we enjoy it in our country, and pray that it may ever continue. - J.

These things also belong to the wise.
I. Here is PARTIALITY OF JUDGMENT; that is bad. "It is no good to have respect of persons in judgment." The principle of impartiality is enjoined both in the Old and the New Testament. In the Old, "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour." In the New Testament we have these words, "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons," etc. (James 2:1-9).

II. Here is FLATTERY OF THE WICKED, which is execrable. "He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous, him shall the people curse; nations shall abhor him." If the wicked man be great in wealth, exalted in social influence and political power, there is a wondrous tendency in all the grades below to flatter him as a "righteous man."

III. Here is REPROVING OF THE WRONG, which is blessed. "But to them that rebuke him shall be delight," etc.

1. There is a delight in such work. "To them that rebuke him shall be delight." What is the delight? The delight of an approving conscience.

2. There is Divine favour in such work. "A good blessing shall come upon you." God will express His favour to such a man in many ways.

3. There is social approbation in such work. "Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth the right answer."


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