From Kelly Madden
Proverbs 20 affirms – twice! – that unequal weights and standards are "an abomination" to God. Sounds hyperbolic, especially since weights and measures differ greatly across time and culture. How can the Scriptures attribute divine authority to an apparently arbitrary and historically relative standard such as weights?
Unless you've seen the consequences of this sort of injustice, it's difficult to appreciate how essential to human flourishing such norms are. Weights and standards are indeed historically contingent, yet once a society sets a standard, that standard does take on divine authority. Because cheating on that standard can destroy human prosperity, robbing people of the fruits of their labor. Those with the smallest margin of profit for their work – the poor, the widow, the alien – suffer the most when standards are not respected.
By extension, the proverb applies to the rule of law in general. (Scales, remember, are a metaphor for justice.) Even a cursory study of international development, for example, will underline importance to a nation's prosperity of applying the same standards of law to all.
Growing up as a white, middle-class American, I had no deep appreciation for these truths until I moved overseas for several years and lived in countries plagued by corruption of various kinds. I came to think of corruption as the devil incarnate – it steals, kills, and destroys.
And I am only beginning to understand the injustices minorities, and especially blacks, have experienced, suffering unequal status before the law in this country.
No, "abomination" no longer seems like an exaggeration at all.