“But with righteousness he shall judge the poor and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:4).
Isaiah is prophesying the coming of a new king. This will be a king who exhibits all of the qualities we believe a king is supposed to have. And as we read further in the text, all sorts of amazing things start to happen — all sorts of reconciliations between the most unlikely of animals: the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, and the calf and the lion. What is more, a little child will lead them.
This is a righteous king — but whatever does that look like? We don’t really use the word very often in our day-to-day conversations. Righteous means moral, good, just, blameless, upright, honorable, honest, respectable, decent. How often do we use those terms to describe our leaders? It seems that our media, and even ourselves on social media and elsewhere, are far more inclined to a more self-righteous approach. An approach that is smug, self-satisfied, complacent, pious, haughty, hypocritical, pretentious, and maybe even holier-than-thou.
The king that Isaiah refers to is not ruled by what he sees and hears, but his rule is all about righteousness with special mention being made to the poor and the meek. I wonder whether there is anything that we can learn from this king? Are we concerned about the poor and how they are faring during these times? How do we regard the homeless people or those with mental illnesses or addictions that we see in the streets or even those who come into our church?
These are not easy questions to answer, but maybe during Advent, we can consider how we can support what the righteous king would want us to do to care for the poor and the meek of the earth. Part of that righteousness is, of course, justice. And justice is the right of not just the wealthy and the privileged but also of those who are stateless and those who live in poverty and degradation.
Righteous God, open our hearts to the needs of those in our community who are less privileged than we are. Instill in us a generous spirit this Christmas so that we share what we have with the poor and the meek. Amen.