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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 82

 

 

Verse 1

God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

Psalms 82:1-8.-God stands as Judge in the congregation where princes, His representatives, preside (Psalms 82:1); He reproves them for partiality to the wicked, and urges them to right the afflicted (Psalms 82:2-4); but they will not understand (Psalms 82:5); therefore sentences is passed upon them, the more terrible as they were once "gods," as His representatives (Psalms 82:6-7); prayer for the judgment (Psalms 82:8). The "congregation" is Israel; and now, professing Christendom. 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430) - "gods" - is a term not for pagan potentates, but for God's vicegerents in His visible kingdom. The ground of His judgment is their responsibility as persons "unto whom the word of God came" (John 10:34-35). None else could be called "children of the Most High" (Psalms 82:6; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 3:13-15; Jeremiah 22:3; Mac. 3:1-4; especially Deuteronomy 1:16-17; also 2 Chronicles 19:5-10). God's representatives bear His name (Exodus 22:28). Israel's throne was 'the throne of Yahweh' (1 Chronicles 29:23). Thus there was designed to be in the people reverence for rulers and judges as God's vicegerents, and in the judges a sense of solemn responsibility, so as to act as would God the Supreme Judge (Job 34:19). But the judges thought only of the rights, not of the duties of their divine office. Asaph, the Seer, shows them what the eye of sense could not see-`God standing as Judge in the congregation,' which is His, not theirs and "judging among" the judges, or "gods" (cf. Exodus 4:16; Exodus 7:1).

God standeth in the congregation of the mighty - `standeth up;' cometh forward, as Isaiah 3:13-14, "The Lord standeth up [the same Hebrew verb as here, nitsaab (Hebrew #5324)] to plead, and standeth to judge the people," etc. Similarly the 50th Psalm, which is also of Asaph's composition, begins with the appearing of God for judgment.

In this congregation of the mighty - rather, 'in the congregation of God' [ 'Eel (Hebrew #410)] corresponding to 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430), "the gods," which follow. It is because the congregation is His specially (Psalms 74:2, "Thy congregation which thou hast purchased of old") the God can suffer no unrighteousness or abuse of power on the part of those who are His representatives, bearing His name ( 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430), "the gods") as His vicegerents in His congregation. The "congregation" [ `


Verse 2

How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? - i:e., show partiality to the wicked because of their wealth, or go into the opposite extreme of partiality to the user because of his poverty (Exodus 23:3). The original passage hero referred to is Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17. Compare the parallel (Psalms 58:1).

Selah. A pause to give time for serious meditation on the rebuke which precedes, as in Psalms 4:4.


Verse 3

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Defend the poor and fatherless - literally, 'Judge,' etc., in contrast to dismissing unheard those who appeal to them for justice, as the unjust judge for a length of time dismissed the widow who came unto him continually, saying, "Avenge me of mine adversary" (Luke 18:3; cf. Isaiah 1:17). Every prince, saith Luther, should get these three verses, yea, the whole psalm, painted upon the walls of his room, upon his bed, over his table, and even upon his clothes. For here they will find what high, princely virtue their situation demands; so that assuredly worldly supremacy, next to the office of the ministry, is the highest service of God, and the most profitable duty upon earth.


Verse 4

Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked - (Job 29:12.)


Verse 5

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

They know not, neither will they understand. Practical ignorance besets intellectual (John 7:17). They who do not what good they know are righteously doomed to lose all moral perception of what is right (James 4:17; Matthew 13:12).

They walk on in darkness - in spite of God's continued long- suffering and monitions (Psalms 82:2-4 : cf. Proverbs 2:13).

All the foundations of the earth are out of course. The whole fabric of society must necessarily totter when those who ought to be the pillars-the "princes," and 'judges,' whose especial duty it is "to know judgment" (Micah 3:1) - are perverted and "walk on in darkness." Here not merely Israel, but the whole of Christendom, and the so- called civilized earth is contemplated: The question may well be asked at such a crisis (Psalms 11:3), "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The answer is in Psalms 75:3, "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars thereof." God assures us that when utter dissolution seems imminent, He will interpose, manifesting Himself as Lord and Judge, to cast out the ungodly, and fix the earth on its only true foundation-righteousness. Psalms 75:2, note, 'When the appointed season comes, I will judge righteously.' There shall be a social and moral earthquake preceding the advent of the Restorer of all things (Acts 3:21; Isaiah 24:1; Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 24:19-21).


Verse 6

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. Princes and judges are "gods" ( '


Verse 7

But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

But ye shall die like men - like any ordinary man; Hebrew, 'aadaam (Hebrew #120) (Psalms 9:20). The gods or great men had virtually forgotten that they are liable to die like other men (Psalms 49:11). God tells them, your god-like station wherewith God has invested you will not exempt you from the penalty of your abuse of it.

And fall like one of the princes - i:e., be cut off by God's judgment by a violent death. [So naapal (Hebrew #5307), "perish" by God's judgment, Exodus 19:21; Jeremiah 39:18.] You shall no more escape than other wicked princes who fell by the judgment of God (1 Kings 22:17-34). So even a pagan satirist, Juvenal, remarks-`Ad generum Cereris sine coede et saugnine, panei Descendnut reges, and sicca morte tyranni'-Few kings descend to Ceres' son-in-law (Pluto, the pagan god of the world of death) without slaughter and blood and tyrants by a natural death.


Verse 8

Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

Arise, O God, judge the earth: for then shalt inherit all nations - `Lift up thyself, O God.' Prayer for the accomplishment of the prophetic intimation in the body of the psalm. It is the prayer often elsewhere offered by the oppressed Church for the Lord's advent to judge the earth and rid it of its oppressors (Psalms 7:7-8; Psalms 9:19; Psalms 10:12; cf. Psalms 56:7; Psalms 57:1; Psalms 57:9-11; Psalms 59:5; Isaiah 3:13; Revelation 6:10). It shall be especially appropriate in the 'abounding iniquity' (Matthew 24:12) of the last days.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 82:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-82.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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