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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 82

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 82:0.

The Psalmist, having exhorted the judges, and reproved their negligence, prayeth God to judge.

A Psalm of Asaph.

Title. ףּלאס מזמור mizmor leasaph This psalm is an admonition to justice, and an upbraiding reproof against the injustice of the Jewish tribunals; with an appeal to God, the supreme and just judge. The courts of justice in Hezekiah's reign were very corrupt: see Isa 1:23 where the judges and magistrates are called princes, in respect of their superiority over the common people; and here they are called gods, in respect to the fountain of their power, which was from the Most High. In this view the psalm conveys an useful admonition to all ministers of justice; from the supreme judge of the highest earthly tribunal, down to the most inferior and petty magistrate.

Psalms 82:1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty God presideth in his courts of justice. Hebrew, In the court of justice of God. But the singular seems to be used here collectively for all the courts of justice in the land. See Psalms 82:5. The courts of justice were God's, as the judges were his vice-gerents; the charge given them being, Take heed what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord; who is present with you in the judgment. 2 Chronicles 19:6. It is plain from Num 15:33 that the word עדה eidah, rendered congregation, signifies, properly, a court of justice; to which sense the turn and drift of the psalm immediately leads. Respecting the word אלהים elohim, or gods, which signifies judges, in this place, see Green, and Exodus 21:6.

Verse 2

Psalms 82:2. Accept the persons To accept persons, is become an established expression, with a known meaning, and therefore may be continued; but the original signifies to lift the faces, to abet and countenance the wicked, and give them undue encouragement. Mudge.

Verse 4

Psalms 82:4. Rid Rescue.

Verse 5

Psalms 82:5. They know not, &c.— They are ignorant of their duty, and will not attend to it, but go on in the dark: All the foundations of the land are in a tottering state. Green. Respecting the word foundations, see on Psalms 11:3. The meaning is, "those who should rule the several nations of the earth uprightly, and preserve justice among all men, are themselves the most unjust, and thereby the authors of all mischief to the world."

Verse 6

Psalms 82:6. I have said, Ye are gods Dr. Wall, in his Critical Notes upon this passage, says, "The name aleim, which is the usual name for God Almighty, having been, in the Pentateuch and other holy books written before this psalm, given sometimes to magistrates, judges, princes, and any of the high powers on earth, (for the proper signification of the word is high powers,) this psalm teaches them in what sense, and with what limitation, this name is allowed them; namely, that though they are suffered to be called aleim, gods, yet they should die like Adam, man; and this verse instructs them, that when they sit in judgment, they should remember, that as they act as masters over other men, so God, their master, the true Aleim, stands over them, and rebukes them upon occasion, as in Psalms 82:2." Dr. Hammond observes, that when our Saviour cites these words, Joh 10:34 they are introduced thus: Is it not written in your law? Thence the conclusion is necessary, that this book of psalms was among the Jews looked upon as part of the divine law, in a more wide and diffuse notion of the word; i.e. as the writings of the prophets, and of all who were inspired by God, are styled law.

Verse 7

Psalms 82:7. Fall like one the princes Fall like one of the poor; whom ye treat with so much contempt, as to refuse them justice. See Psalms 82:3. Bishop Hare: who has thus nobly restored the text here, reading הרשׁים harashim, instead of השׂרים hassrim.

Verse 8

Psalms 82:8. Arise, O God, &c.— Arise, O God, judge the land thyself: for thou art the rightful possessor of all nations: "Since the judges, thy vicegerents, are so corrupt, take the government of the land into thine own hands." Green. This verse in a higher sense may refer to the reign of the Messiah; who was to have the heathen, &c. Psa 2:8 and to whom God would commit all judgment, John 5:22.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, All power is from God: the powers that are, are ordained of God: a strong argument to enforce our obedience, and to engage them to rule with uprightness, knowing from whom they have received authority, and to whom they are accountable for the use of it.

1. God's presence and presidence in the congregations of the mighty, and among the gods, are asserted. The magistrates of the earth, who receive their honour from him, as his vicegerents upon earth, are appointed to administer judgment with impartiality, according to God's holy word; and his eye is ever upon them, observing their conduct, for which they must answer before him in the great day of his appearing and glory.

2. God gives a solemn charge to his delegates. They are to be the defenders of the poor and fatherless; to do justice to the afflicted and needy, whose poverty, and want of friends to vindicate their rights, expose them to injuries; and, however great or rich their oppressors, they must deliver them out of their wicked hands. Note; (1.) They who are poor, are too often trampled upon. (2.) It is a grievous thing when the law is made so expensive, that the poor cannot right themselves; or the injury sustained is more tolerable, than the method of redress.

3. God lodges an accusation against wicked magistrates. How long will ye judge unjustly, and make oppression more intolerable under the sanction of the law? and accept the persons of the wicked? awed by their greatness, or swayed by personal regard, or influenced by bribes? They know not, neither will they understand: plain as the case is, they know not to fear God, and to do justice, and wilfully pervert judgment. They walk on in darkness, partiality having blinded their eyes, and studiously avoiding the light of truth; in consequence of which, all the foundations of the earth are out of course, or moved; for when magistrates are thus unjust and oppressive, confusion and every evil work must ensue. This description is very applicable to the Jewish rulers in the days of Christ, to whom it may also prophetically refer.

2nd, God can humble the highest when they abuse their power.
1. He pronounces their doom. I have said, Ye are gods; have given you authority as my delegates; and all of you are children of the Most High, exalted to a state of singular eminence. But think not your greatness will protect you in the abuse of your power; for ye shall die like men; though as gods in the eyes of men, yet ye are dying worms in the sight of God, and ready to fall like one of the poor whom ye despise, and to be brought before God's dread tribunal, to answer the charges lodged against you. Note; The mightiest men are mortal; let them therefore stand in awe, and sin not, lest they provoke God to cut them down.

2. The Psalmist looks up to God as the judge of the earth, to redress these grievances; and this in the high sense with a particular respect to the coming of Christ, for which he prays, who "will judge the folk righteously:" and being appointed heir of all things, and having all judgment committed to him in heaven and in earth, will come quickly according to his promise, and restore all things; redressing the evils his people have suffered in this disordered world, and recompensing tribulation to those who troubled them: so come, Lord Jesus!

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 82". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/psalms-82.html. 1801-1803.
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