Psalm 82 — Praying they will be Just — Reading the Psalms

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A Psalm of Asaph.

1 God standeth in the congregation of God;
He judgeth among the gods.
2 How long will ye judge unjustly,
And respect the persons of the wicked?     Selah
3 Judge the poor and fatherless:
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
 4 Rescue the poor and needy:
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither do they understand;
They walk to and fro in darkness:
All the foundations of the earth are moved.
6 I said, Ye are gods,
And all of you sons of the Most High.
7 Nevertheless ye shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth:
For thou shalt inherit all the nations.

What enemy or problem does Asaph address in this psalm? He speaks against gods, and that can be confusing. He’s acknowledged the one true God all along; what other goes could he mean?

Here is an important idea to consider when reading the Bible: when you find yourself with two interpretations of a verse, and one interpretation goes along with the whole of the Bible, and the other interpretation is in conflict with the message of scripture, go with the one that makes sense with the Bible. In this passage we can interpret “gods” to mean literal gods or people elevated in some way to be like gods. I believe the latter is the right interpretation.

These gods, or people, are under fire because of their unjust behavior, denying help to the poor and destitute. They are instructed to do justice, rescue and deliver, yet they neither know nor understand; they do not do what is right. It’s easy to imagine the great and powerful — be it princes or bureaucracy — ignoring the lowly and needy. They in their heights believe themselves to be safe and untouchable. Yet, even there, they shall die like men.

Let us heed Asaph’s complaint and instruction. Oppression can come from without, as we’ve read in many of his psalms, but it can also come from within. This psalm speaks to the danger of being overly filled by our own self importance. God will judge the earth, and we must act accordingly.

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