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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 82

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-8

Title. A psalm of Asaph. There is no authority for referring this psalm to the time of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:6, which is to contradict the title. David no doubt reformed the courts of justice on coming to the throne. See Psalms 75:2.

Psalms 82:6 . I have said, ye are gods. See the note on 2 John 1:10; 2 John 1:10:34 .

Psalms 82:7 . Ye shall die like men. Hebrews כאדם ke-adam, like Adam, for ye are begotten in his fallen image; and the wages of sin is death.


The style and manner of the address in this psalm are worthy of the subject; and they indicate that the prophet who addressed the dignitaries of his country, and of the earth, was animated by a proper spirit. Among the oriental nations, justice was administered with great splendour. Solomon often presided in person, and had a throne of ivory; and the office did not degrade his dignity, for the bench of justice is the throne of God. But what a proof is this of the fall and misery of man, that the supreme courts should need so many cautions to do justice to the helpless poor.

Princes, judges, and magistrates, are consequently awed to purity and justice from the consideration of the divine presence. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods, elders, or magistrates. He is present to hear the cause, to frown on perjury with impervious horror, and to shed a smiling lustre on equity and truth. He is present to animate the judge with a wisdom and virtue which shall render him superior to the pleader’s sophism, and every gloss of party influence.

Princes and judges are farther awed to justice from motives of humanity. They defend the poor, the orphan and the needy, against the monopolies of wicked men. Hence the Lord is present, charging them to give a decision worthy of their mission, and honourable to their country.

Princes and judges are likewise exhorted to a faithful discharge of their duty, by a consideration of the influence which their example will have on all the inferior courts. Corruption in the first movements of political circles, and a wilful ignorance of duty, will disorganize the whole system of political justice, and throw the foundations of the earth, or empire, out of course. Impunity will embolden crime, and cause the energies of virtue to languish.

Princes and judges are yet again awed to equity by the weighty consideration, that they themselves shall be judged. God has shared with them his tithes, he has permitted them to fill his throne, and to govern the nations. Lest therefore they should be dazzled with splendour, and flattered in arrogance, they are reminded of their origin, and of the common sentence, that they shall, like the poor, ultimately appear at the same bar.

But the prophet’s hope of complete purity is in the judge of all the earth. He is the king who shall cause the age of righteousness to follow the ages of wickedness. Hence the holy prophets, in every psalm and sermon, had more or less a reference to the Messiah, who shall take the nations for his own.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 82". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-82.html. 1835.
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