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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 82

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Verses 1-4

Introduction

This psalm is the answer to the prayers of the believing remnant in Psalm 81. This answer is the appearance of Christ to judge. As a rule, God begins judgment in His own house (Ezekiel 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17). The LORD begins the judgment by cleansing Israel from the false rulers, who were followers of the false king of Israel, namely the antichrist. These rulers, judges, will be judged first (Psalms 82:7). In John 10 the Lord refers to these false leaders (John 10:34). Only He does not judge them at that time because He had not come to judge.

Everything will be different at His return. Psalm 82 speaks of the judgment on the house of Israel at the time the Lord Jesus appears to redeem His own. When the judgment on Israel has taken place, the remnant asks the LORD to judge the hostile nations as well (Psalms 82:8).

Psalm 82 continues the theme from Psalm 50, Asaph’s only psalm in the second book of Psalms (Psalms 42-72). Psalm 82 begins with God (Psalms 82:1) and ends with a prayer to God (Psalms 82:8). Psalm 83 begins with “O God” twice (Psalms 83:1) and ends with “LORD” and “the Most High” (Psalms 83:18).

Unrighteous Judges

For “a Psalm of Asaph” (Psalms 82:1) see at Psalm 50:1.

Asaph, without any introduction, presents God directly in His exalted position as Judge (Psalms 82:1). He “takes His stand in His own congregation”. It is His congregation. Nor does God sit as some kind of ‘chairman’ in a circle where He is ‘the first among His equals’. No, He “takes His stand” in full majesty and “He judges in the midst of the rulers [literally: gods]”. He is the supreme judicial authority, the sole and absolutely just Judge of all and everything.

He calls together the gods, which are the judges (cf. Psalms 58:1; Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-1 Samuel :). These gods are not heavenly beings. Nor are they the judges we know in our time, who only pronounce justice. They are more like the judges we find in the book of Judges, that is, they are rulers. As rulers, as government, though evil and sinful, they are appointed by God (Romans 13:1), they are God’s servants.

In Ezekiel 34, these judges are called the (false) shepherds of Israel and judged by the Chief Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:1-Nehemiah :). Prophetically, this is about the false leaders of Israel during the time of the reign of the antichrist. The antichrist has fled, and now these leaders are being judged (cf. Isaiah 3:13-Ezra :.

The judges here are called ‘gods’ (cf. John 10:34) because they judge or rule on behalf of God. Therefore, they are to be acknowledged as “gods” in their judgments (cf. Exodus 7:1). In the judges, the members of God’s people have to do with God. The judges are all accountable to Him. In His administration of justice, He is inviolable from all injustice on the part of anyone in the world and judges without regard to individuals. All judges and judicial bodies are subject to Him (Isaiah 3:13; Romans 13:1-Exodus :; Romans 13:6).

Justice is characterized by judges who “judge unjustly” (Psalms 82:2). Because of the actions of these unrighteous leaders of Israel, the faithful remnant of Israel will hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6). The righteous or the believing remnant in the end times asks “how long” this hunger and thirst should last.

The injustice of the judgments is manifested in favoring the wicked and squeezing the poor. The judges are corruptible. Criminals bribe the judges with their money obtained by crime and are acquitted. The poor innocent, on the other hand, are condemned and the little they have is taken away from them.

In Psalms 82:3-Numbers :, four words in the imperative are used to make clear to the judges what God, Who is above them, expects of them: ‘vindicate’, ‘do justice’, ‘rescue’ and ‘deliver’. These are actions which characterize God Himself. This is how the judges should do it, but this is not how they act.

What God presents to them here, therefore, implies an accusation of what they are not doing. Therefore they are compelled to adjust their conduct to what God wants. The way in which they judge is a serious offence. Those who represent God as Judge trample God’s honor by their conduct.

The first thing God to which God reminds, is to “vindicate the weak and fatherless” and “do justice to the afflicted and destitute” (Psalms 82:3). In Isaiah 1, this is a sin that is a hindrance to being saved (Isaiah 1:17). Only when they dispense with this practice does the invitation come in the next verse in Isaiah 1 to receive forgiveness of sins (Isaiah 1:18).

Psalms 82:3-Numbers : are favorites of modern theologians who advocate the social gospel. However, the point is not that they should make excuses for the weak and fatherless, the afflicted and destitute because they are weak, fatherless, afflicted and destitute. If that were the case, they would be doing what they are accused of, namely acting with regard to the person. The point is that these are vulnerable groups who have no natural protectors to stand up for them, so they are easily exploited by the powerful and wealthy. Prophetically, this is a group that is especially vulnerable: the faithful remnant of Israel (cf. the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7).

If they vindicate and do justice, the result will be that “the weak and needy” will be delivered from the power of their oppressors (Psalms 82:4). That power is great. Through righteous justice, the judge will snatch the vulnerable “out of the hand of the wicked”. The word “deliver” indicates that great power is needed because the resistance to do justice is great.

Verses 5-7

God Judges Unjust Judges

The judges are fools who neither know nor understand the will of God (Psalms 82:5). This is not because of God, but because of their rejection of Him and His righteous government. “They walk about in darkness”, that is not the darkness of the night as opposed to the light of the day, but the darkness within them. It is a darkness resulting from their ignorance of the law and facts of a case. They have no understanding or insight into what is right and wrong in God’s eyes, but on the contrary, turn the matter around (cf. Micah 3:2).

Because there is no longer righteous justice because of spiritual darkness, “all the foundations of the earth are shaken” (cf. Psalms 11:2-Leviticus :). Law and order are undermined. God has given the family and family life as the most important foundation for life on earth. Spiritual darkness overthrows this foundation, causing everything to waver and soon to collapse (Matthew 10:21). The entire social and civic life is disrupted.

God has given judges a high position. “I” has emphasis. ‘I, none other than I, “said, “You are gods”“ (Psalms 82:6). God has said this because their authority is derived from Him. As to their function, He calls all of them “sons of the Most High”. They represent Him in His jurisdiction and position of authority on earth. This creates a special responsibility to act according to His example of absolute righteousness.

Because the gods, the judges, do not reckon with God, they “will die like men” (Psalms 82:7). God ‘dethrones’ them. He will judge them for their abuse of authority and unjust judgments. They have a position as princes, but will die as ordinary people despite their high position, just as it happens to every other prince (cf. Isaiah 14:10; Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 31:12-2 Chronicles :; Psalms 49:12.)

The Lord Jesus quotes Psalms 82:6 in one of His disputes with the Jews, in which they accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33-Zephaniah :). He makes it clear that the “gods” are men of some responsibility, yet ordinary mortal men. They are not Divine persons, but they have received Divine authority.

He, the Lord Jesus, is no ordinary mortal man. He knows the Father and, as the Son, fulfills the Father’s commission. He is the One “whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world” (John 10:36). His authority as the Son of God is eternal and thus surpasses the authority of the judges who are called gods, sons of the Most High, in this psalm.

He comes with Divine authority and in a known relation to His Father. He came into the world as a Man, while His relationship with the Father as the Son of the Father is unchanging. How could He cease to be the Son of the Father? How can they reasonably accuse Him of blasphemy when He only points to the fact that He is God’s Son?

Verse 8

God Judges the Earth

The psalm ends with a prayer. Now that the judgment on the house of God, that is Israel, has taken place, the remnant asks if the LORD will judge the hostile nations. This is what we find in Psalm 83. The righteous, in the face of so much injustice, cry out to God to arise and judge the earth. It is the Old Testament counterpart of the closing words of the New Testament: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

The reason given is that He “possesses all the nations”. He is the Owner of the earth and therefore perfectly entitled to judge injustice. After the judgment, He will rule over all and everything.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 82". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-82.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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