SHOPHET: judge

Rise up, O Judge of the earth! Psalm 94:2


Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,

And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.

For the LORD is a God of justice;

How blessed are all those who long for Him.

Isaiah 30:18


The Meaning of His Name:

This is not God’s most popular name. Not by a long shot. In fact, this is a name that sends shudders up our backs— we cringe a little every time we’re faced with this aspect of who He is.

After all, who likes a judge? He’s that stern visaged man behind the dias who wears a black robe. His pronouncements are permanent. He holds in his hands the power to alter the course of your life, to lock you away from all you long for, to forfeit your freedom.

Not exactly someone you’d want to cozy up to.

But I have a friend who is a judge, and he’s not like that at all. In fact, he’s been called the Crying Judge because his heart weeps with sorrow every time he stares a defendant in the face. Tom spends his days designing discipline for men and women who stand before him convicted of substance abuse. And it breaks his heart.

You see, Tom’s own daughter once struggled and lost against the pull of the dark powers of drugs. And in every face, Tom glimpses his little girl, once so full of future hopes, now lying in a coffin under the earth, the victim of her own mistakes.

No wonder this judge cries.

And God cries too. Longing to give to you and to me a life full of joys, a life living in close connection with His heart, but we push away like Tom’s daughter did.

We want what we want and we want it right now… and sometimes we’ll do whatever we want to get it.

And He weeps for us.

But God does more than weep. He acts. This Hebrew word shophet holds rich and varied meaning. In the verb form, shapat means to decide, to defend, to deliver, and to discipline.

That’s the kind of judge God is.

He decides… “judgement will again be founded on righteousness and all the upright in heart will follow it.” Psalm 94:15

Are you, am I, one of those “upright in heart” who will follow His ways? Will you give Him the right to decide how your story is written? Or will you fight Him all the way, wrestling willfully out of His grasp?  His will or yours? Which will it be?

He defends… “ There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

Can you feel the strength of His love? He knows your heart, He sees your struggles. While others may sum you up as a colossal failure, He cheers you on. Just like Judge Tom turns his entire courtroom into a platform for encouraging and applauding anyone who takes the tiniest step towards progress, God puts His arms around you and protects you from condemnation.

He delivers… “Thou doest hide them in the secret place from the conspiracies of man; Thou doest keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.” Psalm 32:20

David cried out to God when his heart blistered in the heat of people’s hatred for him. And God heard, tucking him “secretly in a shelter” where he would find rest to recover.

He disciplines… “Those whom the LORD loves, He disciplines…” Hebrews 12:6

Out of His intense love for you, God is willing to do whatever it takes to protect you from yourself. Like a loving father, He corrects us in order to bring us close, where the joy is— where we belong.

Do you get it now?

How His being Shophet flows out of a heart so full of love that He will not let us go?

Why He pushes you to stay with His story rather than try to make up one of your own?

Can you sense His tears when you pull away?

From my heart,


Psalm 94- read the whole story

Hebrews 12- this is your Father

Psalm 96:10-13- why we worship

Isaiah 30:18- His longing for you

Matthew 18: 21-35 see how seriously the Judge takes forgiveness