Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 28, 2014

Proportionate Punishment: “according to his ways”, “according to his deeds”, and “according to his guilt”

Today’s devotion comes from Deuteronomy 25:1-3.

“If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt.  He may beat him forty times but no more, so that he does not beat him with many more stripes than these and your brother is not degraded in your eyes.”  Deuteronomy 25:1-3.


We see proportionate punishment in today’s Scripture:  “the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt.”  Verse 2.

Proportionate punishment is one of principles of justice.  One may deserve to be punished, even severely, but just because someone commits a crime does not mean that person necessarily deserves to die.  The more severe the crime, the more severe the punishment should be.  One size of punishment does not fit all crimes.  The amount of punishment should be according to the amount of the guilt.  If people conclude that law enforcement does not punish proportionately, they lose respect for the law.

Our God loves justice.  But, our God does more than love justice.  He establishes equity.  He executes justice and righteousness.  And so, our God teaches and commands principles of justice such as proportionate punishment that we read in today’s Scripture.

“The strength of the King loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”  Psalm 99:4.

“But I will punish you according to the results of your deeds,” declares the Lord …”  Jeremiah 21:14.

“The Lord also has a dispute with Judah,
And will punish Jacob according to his ways;
He will repay him according to his deeds.”  Hosea 12:2.


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