Psalm 82 (NIV)
1 God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the “gods”:
2 “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
The Psalmist has used the first verse of Psalm 82 to set the scene and describe the encounter between YHWH and those whom YHWH has permitted to rule over his people or perhaps to rule in surrounding countries. In the final verse, the Psalmist has pleaded that YHWH exact judgement on those rulers. In the intervening verses, we read the Psalmist’s vision of YHWH’s chastising those to whom he had given permission to administer justice.
Whether these lesser “gods” summoned by YHWH to the great assembly, the divine Hall of Justice, are from among his people or beyond is, at our level, immaterial. What is significant is that they have been called to account. The “Most High” (verse 6) has left them in no doubt as to their true status: they were not “almighty”; they were to die like mere men.
This Psalm reminds all people that God’s expectations of earthly rulers and leaders are high indeed. Such women and men are to:
- defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
- maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed;
- rescue the weak and needy; and
- deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Earthly rulers and leaders today are urged to comply with these expectations (verses 3, 4). Moreover, they are to refrain from any thought or action which would defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked (verse 2). Those who condone such action or permit it to go “unnoticed” are devoid of any moral compass. They are described (verse 5) as actually knowing nothing, understanding nothing and walking about in darkness.
There may be some in our Commonwealth and State Parliaments today, some in our courts system, some holding high public office, who, regrettably, would be laws unto themselves and who refuse to acknowledge that there is One who is judge over all the earth.
Rulers and leaders beware! Parliamentarians, you are accountable to your constituents but more importantly you are accountable to Almighty God, regardless of whether or not you know him, recognise him or pay “lip service” to the honouring of his Name.