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God as the Judge of Governments.
A psalm of Asaph, to set forth the majesty of the great Judge of the earth.
v. 1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty, in the assembly of God, firm and immovable in the midst of His Church, against which therefore the gates of hell cannot prevail; He judgeth among the gods, among the judges, the rulers of the earth; for every government receives its authority from God and is responsible to Him, who will call all the mighty ones of the earth to account for their manner of ruling.
v. 2. How long will ye judge unjustly, engaging in, performing iniquity in ostensibly carrying out justice, and accept the persons of the wicked, favoring their faces, that is, pervert right and justice in their favor? Selah. Such perversion of justice was common in Oriental courts, where flattering courtiers were admitted to the presence of the sovereign and succeeded in gaining their ends, while others had to be content with remaining outside and having their case decided against them in their absence.
v. 3. Defend the poor and fatherless, the orphans and those without political influence; do justice to the afflicted and needy, making it a point to see that they received the right due them.
v. 4. Deliver the poor and needy, from the many forms of oppression practiced by the mighty; rid them out of the hand of the wicked. The rulers are under obligation to see that justice is properly administered at all times and with regard to every station of mankind.
v. 5. They know not, neither will they understand, that is, the rulers, in many cases, ignore the voice of their conscience, they willfully set aside the obligation resting upon them; they walk on in darkness, deliberately blinding their eyes and hardening their hearts to the demands of their position; all the foundations of the earth are out of course, the entire order of things in the world is upset, their negligence causes anarchy to ensue and to overthrow law and order.
v. 6. I have said, Ye are gods, He Himself has clothed them with their official dignity, they are never to forget that they are His representatives; and all of you are children of the Most High, they do not hold their office by an absolute right, but, as His sons, are responsible to Him for the entire discharge of their duties.
v. 7. But, in spite of the prerogative which they hold by virtue of the grace of God, ye shall die like men, that is, like ordinary people, such as held no distinguishing positions during their lifetime, and fall like one of the princes, their fate would be that of the many other rulers whom the might of God had deposed from their high estate and laid into the grave.
v. 8. Arise, O God, judge the earth, Himself exercising the functions of the great Judge, since men were performing this office so badly; for Thou shalt inherit all nations, it is in His power to take hold of the nations at any time, personally to take charge of the business of judging righteously. That is the constant prayer of the believers, that God would hinder all unrighteousness upon the earth, so that His children may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 82". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany