I recently had a discussion on a message board about "justice" so as I was reading the first few psalms the term justice popped out at me.
Psalm 9: 7-10
The LORD reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Justice = refuge for the oppressed.
later in vs. 15-16:
The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
The LORD is known by his justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
Justice = the wicked reap what they sow. (I think it's important to note here that it's not just "You all suffer from your mistakes" but that the wicked reap what they sow in connection to judgment. I mean - yes, we all obviously bear the consequences of our actions - but the "ensnaring" mentioned here connected to God's justice mentions the wicked.
The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.
On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men will see his face.
Again, the harsh "judgment" against the wicked. But - "justice" is still connected to the righteous seeing his face.
I could be totally off base - but I think in the past most people would've assumed "justice" meant the harsh judgment for those who have done wrong. I think we've flipped to the other side - where most people see "justice" as the "refuge for the oppressed" with the number of "justice causes" that have sprung up in the past few years - especially within the church and religious organizations. Obviously - both are correct. I've got a heart for the latter - but it's done me well to be reminded that Justice is more than just that refuge - that there is judgment involved.
And - I don't always know the difference between the wicked and the oppressed. I hate to be all pop culture - but since he was all over the news - Michael Jackson comes to mind. Wicked or oppressed? My heart feels like it's the latter - but - I certainly don't know. I think that in the absence of that knowledge - it's always best to err on the side of being a refuge rather than bringing judgment - because we're also told to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly" - the mercy and humility part seems to suggest that as fallible humans we should err on that side. While, at the same time, recognizing - that sometimes it is time for the wicked to become ensnared by the traps they have set - and that no amount of mercy or humility can change that.
I rambled a lot there - but hopefully something made sense. :)