Do Justice and Love Mercy

by Kari on May 2, 2011

Do justice and love mercy.

Micah 6:8

Osama bin Laden is dead. Do we cheer or mourn?

Justice or mercy? God’s word says both.

I clicked on Facebook to see. A mix. Cheers. Expletives. A Christian warning to not rejoice. One particular post stands out, quiet. A friend who lost a loved one when those towers fell that day. Only two words:

Wow. Justice.

Yes. To so many who lost loved ones that horrific day almost ten years ago it wasn’t national tragedy but personal tragedy.  My own experience is so far from theirs I hardly dare open my mouth. But how are we to respond? Our sacred Scriptures are replete with turning of the cheek and impreccatory psalms.

Do we cheer or mourn?

Justice or mercy? God’s word says both.

In Micah 6:8, the term for “mercy” is chesedh, God’s unconditional grace and compassion. The word for “justice” is the Hebrew term mishpat. According to Tim Keller,

mishpat puts the emphasis on the action, chesedh puts it on the attitude or motive behind the action. To walk with God, then we must do justice, out of merciful love” (Generous Justice, p.3)

We mourn because sin, death, and the grave were never God’s intention. The enemy of our souls seeks to steal, kill, and destroy–And he did much of just that through the life of bin Laden. But our responsibility is to grieve over sin, offer forgiveness, and execute justice.

The death of Osama bin Laden will never bring back all the loved one whose lives were cut short that September day. But we are reminded that we serve a just God. The work of Jesus on the cross is that much more beautiful when we understand the justice of God. We deserve the worst of death but He’s given us the greatest of life.  That grace extends to all who will receive.

I do not rejoice over death. Anyone’s.  But I do rejoice over justice, and we can rest assured that we serve a just and merciful God. As Jeff always says, “God is able to sort all these things out.”

I rejoice that this perpetrator of evil is no longer on the prowl in our world. I mourn over a human soul that was so deceived by the devil and used to carry out his schemes.

But most of all I rejoice in the extravagant grace of Jesus Christ.  He carried out perfect justice once and for all by taking our place on the cross.

That I will celebrate.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle May 2, 2011 at 4:01 am

Well put, Kari.

I have felt lots of confusion about how to react personally to this. I’m thrilled that he can not hurt more people but the fact that it came to death for him is also, in some ways sad.

We just had several huge court trials in NH about some kids that invaded a home (randomly chosen) and killed a mother and left her daughter for dead (she did not die). Seeing these men/kids put on trial and then having them receive more than life sentences was satisfying. Justice was served, and now they have a lot of time to repent without the possibility of hurting others.

While the situations are different, there was so much less confusion on how to handle the latter.

May the Lord abundantly bless those who have suffered directly or indirectly by bin Laden’s actions and may he be held accountable to our Lord Most High.


Kari May 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

Yes, Michelle, certainly is messy. All of it. So thankful God can sort all these things out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…


Kris Zyp May 2, 2011 at 5:28 am

I completely agree Kari, I think an mix of emotions from rejoicing in justice to sorrowing in loss of life does appropriately reflect the manifold nature of God as demonstrated from imprecatory psalms to Jesus’ unconditional forgiveness lessons. One more emotion to throw in there, though: I do sorrow that thousands of coalition (American and allies) lives were lost and ten of thousands of innocent Afghan lives were lost in the pursuit of Al Qaeda. While I do think Osama’s death in isolation represents an increase in justice in the world, the means (the Afghan war) that the cost of ten of thousands lives (we’ve killed far more civilians than 911 ever did) to bring about this end was by no means just and is far more tragic than a single man’s death/soul, and I certainly would hope that Osama’s death doesn’t legitimize this in our minds.


Kari May 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

Yes, the larger picture is much more of a defeat than a victory. I wish I knew more about all these things and could articulate them. Would you consider sometime writing a guest post?


Brooke May 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Hi Kari,
I am an acquaintance of the “person” who you referred to (their FB status) in this post. I found your words so eloquently put, and really felt that what I had been thinking all day long… were put into words, and then all together became a wonderful piece of writing… yours. I thank you so much for this post. I have linked it to my blog, I had asked the above mentioned friend of yours, and she said it would be ok… I certainly hope this is the case. Your blog is truly amazing and inspiring. I am grateful to have come across it.
My blog
The latest post refers to your amazing writing.
Many Thanks, Kari.

Brooke Weeks


Melissa May 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Great writing. I was torn when the breaking news flashed on the TV screen last night as the kids and I were watching our ritual of American’s Funniest Videos. First I was thrilled that this person who tormented us was brought to justice, but saddened that death had occured, eventhough it was rightly so. Glory to our God who can sort all things out. I pray that this occurance will help tame the enemy and that our Lord’s face will shine for all to see during this historical time. May the Lord guide this country and the people of it.


Kari May 3, 2011 at 6:10 am

Amen, Meliss! Well said! Love you, my friend.


sjm30741 May 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

When translating Hebrew words, go to Hebrew sources, not Strong’s, please:
“chesed” means “kindness” or usually “loving kindness”;
“mishpat” means ” trial, sentence, law, judgment”


Katie @ Imperfect People June 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

This is good stuff! Have you heard of Trade as One? They help employ people who were freed from slavery. Anyway your title reminded me of their cause. I love your thoughts well said!


Rebecca June 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Very well said. When thinking about people like Osama bin Laden, I try to remember Paul and who he was before his conversion. I’d much rather see the outcome of Paul’s life than the what happened in bin Laden’s, but I know eternity and final judgement is in God’s hand, and I am so happy it is not in ours.


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