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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 31:9

Proverbs 31:9

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of all the afflicted and needy."

open your mouth

It is clear from this and other passages throughout the Old Testament and New Testament that a leader must speak out against injustice. The position of leader or king is such a concentrated place of power that the temptation to use power for selfish purposes is always present. One of the great temptations is to shut your mouth about what is right when it does not directly profit or benefit you. This should not be done by the leader in position.

If the leader becomes aware of an unrighteousness, then they should clearly speak about it and move to correct it. Casting the blind eye is not okay in God's book when one has the ability, power, and resources to correct that injustice.

The afflicted and needy are in need of a powerful defender who will make decisions from the objective point of view of God's law; not from the corrupt venue of whether it profits them directly.


This is the Hebrew word sedeq which means righteousness – that which conforms to God's moral standards; that which stays within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. These are the absolute boundaries of selfish behavior before it becomes destructive to the person, others, and the society as a whole.

We often do not realize that God put the boundaries of the Ten Commandments in place to declare clearly where selfishness must stop or aspects of society will suffer. Usually it is the innocent, the marginalized, and the elderly that receive the first blows of the contamination of the society.

Unfortunately, our society has embraced a very self-centered orientation toward leadership as though one's leadership can be only about them and their profits and the injustice that they have personally felt. This is not true. The leader must be sensitive to the whole of the system around them. Injustice in one aspect of the system creates imbalance in other parts.

Notice that the leader is admonished to make decisions to govern with a focus on righteousness. What will provide for people to feel safe in their homes, in their marriages, in their business, in their practice of worship? If the Ten Commandments are violated, then individuals and groups have had these areas invaded and ransacked. How is this done? Through lying, coveting, stealing, adultery, anger, and murder.

If you are in a position of leadership and you see or become aware of a situation in which a person is stealing; lying; or using anger, violence, or sexual lures to get their way, then it is incumbent upon you to bring that to a stop. It may be through policies, through direct action, through discussion, through reporting to higher authorities, through termination, etc. What you cannot do is ignore what is happening because you like the person, what they are doing profits you directly, or ignore what is happening because you have no personal stake in what is happening.


This is the Hebrew word sapat which means to judge, govern. It seems to put an emphasis on the decisions that a leader must make. It is the process of governing. In American culture there has been a separation of the three branches of government – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial – but there was not separation of this kind in the ancient world. All these forms of decision making were the property of the leader.

American government separated the three branches of government based upon the concept of original sin and total depravity. Everyone is a sinner and sin is a part of every aspect of everyone's being. It is much more difficult to corrupt three separate branches of government in the same direction in the same way.

and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy

The afflicted and needy are in need of a powerful defender who will make decisions from the objective point of view of God's law; not from the corrupt venue of whether it profits them directly.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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