05 August 2012

The Parable of the Unjust Judge: “Weary Him Until He Blesses You”

The lesson of Jesus’ little-remembered parable of the importunate widow and the unjust judge was a recurring allusion in the teachings of the Joseph Smith. The parable reads:
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
Harvey summarizes the cultural background of the story:
The setting was a small town. A widow—which was a byword for someone reduced to poverty through no fault of her own—had been the victim of some fraud or sharp practice, and in order to recover her money she had to go to law. In such cases, this did not involve a formal sitting of a court; it was sufficient for the parties to agree upon a qualified lawyer to arbitrate between them. The little town, in any case, may have possessed only one such lawyer; if so, the widow’s only hope of redress lay in persuading this lawyer to attend to her case. Now it was a fundamental principle of Jewish justice that a judge received no payment. There was therefore only a moral obligation for the lawyer to attend to all the cases brought before him. This particular lawyer was not sensitive to his moral obligations—he cared nothing for God or man; possibly he waited until litigants brought him a present before he concerned himself with their affairs. But the widow, by again and again thrusting her papers in front of him, finally got her way.

…The justice of the widow’s claim is taken for granted; the point is the difficulty she had in getting it attended to.
In what sense can God be compared to such a judge? Elder Talmage explains:
Jesus did not indicate that as the wicked judge finally yielded to supplication, so would God do; but He pointed out that if even such a being as this judge, who “feared not God, neither regarded man,” would at last hear and grant the widow’s plea, no one should doubt that God, the Just and Merciful, will hear and answer… The Lord’s purpose in giving the parable is specifically stated; it was “to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” [= Greek ekkakeo, to be weary or to lose heart]

Full text

No comments:

Post a Comment