A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but an accurate weight is his delight.
In these days of pre packaged food and a move, during my lifetime, to metric weights and measures this verse seems a little odd. We have laws, and local councils have trading standards departments, to check that shops and businesses treat us fairly. Scales have to be regularly calibrated to ensure we get what we pay for. This is quite a modern phenomenon and whilst many of us may still think in pounds and ounces – and get quite confused by grams and kilos – we can be reasonably confident that the weight on the pack is the weight of what is inside it.
In the ancient world traders could be unscrupulous. An illiterate population might find it hard to challenge the weights and measures used in a market place. In a pre-scientific age how might one prove an assertion that one was being cheated? Of course the rich could shop around, afford their own weights to check and punish those who sought to cheat them – but the poor, then as now, were at the mercy of the market.
Intriguingly the writer strongly asserts that the Lord is concerned with simple things like weights and measures; the Lord is concerned with accurate calibration! Not because, I suspect, of a keen interest in physics but because the poor are cheated and oppressed. Time and time again in Scripture the Lord’s especial concern for the poor is seen – this passage is but one example.
Laws can protect us, they can ensure we live in a society which is just and ordered well; disengagement and cynicism allows governments to pass unjust laws which oppress and wound. As we see God’s concern for weights and measures we should also see His concern for justice and equity – and make that concern our own too!
O God of weight and measures, O God of justice and peace, O God of equality and fairness, help us to so order our society that all your people flourish. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four churches in and around Glasgow