Justice and judgment provide the response to the previous category: sin. Justice is what punishes or cleanses sin, after all. The God of 2 Kings is big on justice, though he's not without his merciful side, as well. Sometimes, though, the punishment might not seem to fit the crime (at least, to the contemporary reader), like when a crowd of children mocks Elisha and are then attacked and killed by wild bears. (Overreaction much?)
Justice, in the Biblical sense, frequently takes on some pretty hair-raising forms, like when Josiah slaughters disobedient priests on their own altars. The ultimate act of justice in 2 Kings may be the most devastating: the departure of Judah into exile. The mercy of God tends to resolve things in a relatively peaceful way, like when he extends the life of Hezekiah. But justice is harrowing. There may be a greater purpose lying behind such retribution, leading towards a time of peace (as Isaiah and other prophets predict). Yet, as 2 Kings ends, it seems like that time is still very far off...
Questions About Justice and Judgment
In 2 Kings, is God's justice working? Is it, for the most part, getting people to improve or not?
Are innocent people punished along with the guilty in 2 Kings? If so, could that be at all justifiable?
Also, we should probably cover that bear attack thing… Is it somehow just for God to kill kids for calling Elisha "baldhead"? Do you think the narrator considers it just?
On a related note, is God sometimes simply beyond justice and injustice?