Equity, Ps 98:9


In ten different verses in the Bible we find a reference to equity.  Equity is defined in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary as a free and reasonable conformity to accepted standards of natural right, law, and justice without prejudice, favoritism, or fraud and without rigor entailing undue hardship: justice according to natural law or right: FAIRNESS: IMPARTIALITY.

In the New World of Words by J. Phillips printed in 1706 we find this entry, “the virtue of treating all men according to the rules of right reason and justice: the word in law has a double and contrary sense; for one enlarges and adds to the letter of the law, extending the words of it to cases unexpressed, yet having the same reason: whereas the other abridges and takes from it; so that the latter is defined to be the correction of the law, generally made in that part wherein it fails.”

As you can see from these definitions, equity is supplemental to the law and deals with cases not expressly covered in the law or in which applying the letter of the law would result in a decision contrary to reason of the law.  By equity, the fair, impartial and just decision is made regardless of or in spite of the law.  In our study of equity in the Bible we find the following:

The Lord will judge by equity – Ps 98:9, 99:4; Is 11:4.  When the Lord judges in the earth every decision he makes will be right and fair without respect of persons.  Even when he judges us at the judgment seat of Christ, his judgment will be perfectly impartial [2 Cor 5:10; Col 3:24-25].  Look at an example in Matt 20:1-16.

The Levitical priests judged by equity – Mal 2:4-6.  They were to teach Israel God’s judgment and law [Deut 33:10] and they were to judge [Deut 17:8-11].  For them it was necessary to understand the law so that when they judged they could fairly and impartially apply the law in equity [Ex 23:2-3, 6-8].

Men are to be instructed by equity – Prov 1:3, 2:1-9.  Equity is something that men learn after careful and diligent study of the words of God and after God gives them wisdom and understanding.  Once a man understands this then he can be completely fair and impartial in all his dealings.

Men are to labor by equity – Ecc 2:21.  Equity guides him in his decisions about how to deal with his land, his labor, his livestock, and his living. These must be cared for and properly balanced so that his expenses are frugal yet adequate and none of these components of his work is abused.  Sadly, the heirs cannot appreciate the hard work and care that go into building an estate and so they generally waste it.

But when men turn from truth equity cannot enter – Is 59:14.  Equity thrives in a society governed by judgment, justice and truth.  When men turn away from these, it cannot enter.  Decisions that become law are often inequitable.  For instance, abortion is legal but it is distressingly inequitable.  The “rights” of the baby and the Lord are not considered, at all.  Civil rights are often very inequitable.  To force a photographer, for instance, by law and judgment to violate his conscience and his Biblical beliefs by photographing a same sex wedding is inequitable.  In these and scores of other cases, equity cannot enter.

Conclusion: no matter how far society goes away from God, strive to learn, understand, and live by equity in all of your dealings with God and men and even with your beasts [Prov 12:10].  Be fair and impartial in all of your dealings.