What does Deuteronomy 16:20 really mean?

Deuteronomy 16:20 is about emphasizing the importance of seeking justice and pursuing righteousness in order to ensure a just and equitable society.

20 Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.


Setting the Scene for Deuteronomy 16:20

In Deuteronomy chapter 16, we find the Israelites encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, following their exodus from Egypt. Moses, the revered leader chosen by God, stands before the people, delivering the laws and commandments that will govern their lives as a chosen nation. The scene is set amidst the vast desert landscape, with the imposing presence of the mountain looming in the background, shrouded in a haze of mystery and divine power.

The Israelites, a diverse multitude of men, women, and children, have gathered to hear Moses speak. They have endured hardships and witnessed miracles on their journey, and now they stand at a pivotal moment in their history, poised to enter into a covenant with their God. The air is charged with anticipation and reverence as Moses imparts the words of God, urging the people to uphold justice, pursue righteousness, and show no partiality in their judgments.

As the sun sets over the desert horizon, casting a golden glow over the assembly, Moses concludes his address with a solemn reminder: “Justice, justice you shall pursue, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” The words echo in the hearts of the Israelites, a call to uphold fairness and integrity in all their dealings, as they prepare to embark on the next leg of their journey towards the promised land.

What is Deuteronomy 16:20 about?

This verse speaks to the importance of pursuing justice and goodness in all aspects of our lives. It serves as a reminder to always strive for what is right and just, both in our actions and in our intentions. We uphold fairness and equality by following justice, treating others with respect and dignity. Seeking what is good and right involves making ethical choices that benefit not only ourselves but also those around us.

Think about it for a moment – what would happen if each one of us committed to following justice and always seeking what is good and right? It would create a world where kindness, fairness, and integrity reign supreme. It challenges us to reflect on our own behavior and decisions – are we acting in a just manner? Are we seeking what is truly good and right for all involved? We can contribute to a more just and compassionate society by keeping these principles at the forefront of our minds. Let us embody these values in our daily lives and strive to make a positive difference in the world.

Understanding what Deuteronomy 16:20 really means

Deuteronomy 16:20 serves as a poignant call to action, urging individuals to actively seek justice and righteousness in all aspects of their lives. Within the broader context of Moses’ instructions to the Israelites, this verse stands out as a foundational principle for living in alignment with God’s will. The emphasis on “justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” underscores the unwavering commitment required to uphold fairness and righteousness in a world often marred by injustice.

Furthermore, the repetition of the term “justice” in this verse highlights its paramount importance, urging individuals to prioritize equity and righteousness above all else. By connecting the pursuit of justice with the promise of living in the land bestowed by the Lord, Deuteronomy 16:20 establishes a direct link between ethical conduct and divine blessings. It conveys the message that living justly is not only a moral imperative but also a prerequisite for receiving God’s gifts and prospering in the land.

Drawing parallels with other biblical passages such as Micah 6:8, Matthew 5:6, and Isaiah 1:17, Deuteronomy 16:20 finds resonance in the broader scriptural narrative that calls believers to act justly, love mercy, and seek righteousness. These passages collectively reinforce the timeless message of pursuing justice and embodying God’s character through our actions. They remind us that justice is not merely a lofty ideal but a tangible expression of our faith in action.

In a contemporary context marked by pervasive injustice and inequality, Deuteronomy 16:20 remains profoundly relevant, challenging individuals to be catalysts for positive change in their communities and beyond. It beckons us to stand up for what is right, even in the face of adversity, and to advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. By heeding the call to pursue justice, we not only honor God but also contribute to the creation of a more just, compassionate society.

Consider the inspiring narrative of a community leader who exemplified the principles outlined in Deuteronomy 16:20 by championing justice in their neighborhood. Through their tireless efforts to promote fair housing or equal educational opportunities, this leader brought about transformative change, illustrating the profound impact of living out the values of justice and righteousness. Their story serves as a testament to the enduring power of individuals committed to upholding justice and advocating for the marginalized.

In conclusion, Deuteronomy 16:20 stands as a timeless reminder of the intrinsic link between justice, righteousness, and divine favor. By embracing the mandate to pursue justice in our daily lives, we not only align ourselves with God’s will but also contribute to the realization of a more equitable and compassionate world. Let this verse serve as a guiding light, inspiring us to embody justice, seek righteousness, and strive for a society where fairness and compassion reign supreme.

How can we walk in righteousness and justice?

One way to walk in righteousness and justice is by actively seeking what is right and fair in all situations. This involves not only following the laws and statutes set forth, but also going beyond the minimum requirements to ensure that everyone is treated equitably and with compassion. We can cultivate a lifestyle of righteousness that impacts not only our own lives but also the lives of those around us by consistently choosing to do what is morally upright and just.

Additionally, walking in righteousness and justice requires a mindset of humility and a willingness to listen to the voice of conscience and the guidance of God. This involves being open to correction and feedback, as well as being willing to make amends and seek reconciliation when we have erred. We can actively work towards creating a more just and righteous society where all individuals are valued and treated with dignity and respect by staying attuned to the principles of righteousness and justice. Walking in righteousness and justice ultimately requires integrity, perseverance, and a commitment to upholding what is good and true throughout a lifelong journey. We can navigate the complexities of life with clarity and purpose and contribute to the establishment of a more just and equitable world for all by grounding ourselves in the principles of righteousness and justice.


In the hustle of work and family, are you embodying fairness? Deuteronomy 16:20 urges us to chase justice like our next big project. Show integrity and resist shortcuts or biases. Reflect on your actions—are they in tune with justice? Make it your mission to practice righteousness in every interaction. Will you commit to making justice your daily habit?