May 22: Psalm 82

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May 22: Psalm 82

Righteous judgment

87.87                         Stuttgart (God, My King, Thy Might Confessing), p. 160
Arise (Come, ye Sinners)

God is in His congregation; judge among the gods He stands:

“How long will you judge unjustly, favoring the wicked hands?

“Judge the destitute and orphan, and the poor, distressed, defend;

Free the destitute and needy; save them from the wicked’s hand.

“These are they who have no knowledge, to perceive no effort make;

They walk on in utter darkness; all of earth’s foundations shake.

“Gods you are, I have declared it, sons now of the Highest, all;

Yet you’ll die as common men die and like any prince shall fall.”

Now, O God, arise we pray You, and the earth to judgment call;

For You, as Your own possession, shall inherit nations all.

In the Gospel of John (10:34-35), our Lord gives us a key to understanding Psalm 82 when He quotes and interprets a line from this psalm: “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, ‘You are gods’”? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came…’” In context, those “to whom the word of God came” were the ancient judges and rulers of Israel. That is to say, the Bible actually uses the word “gods” to refer to certain ones who exercised an exalted and godly office, human beings who, because the word of God came to them, served as judges to God’s people. It is a rather high thing to speak of judges as “gods,” but the impulse to do so makes some sense if one bears in mind that judging is itself radically and ultimately a divine prerogative. Indeed, this latter truth is the real point of the psalm: “God stands in the gathering of the “gods.” In their midst He judges the gods: “How long do you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked….I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you will die like men, and fall like any one of the princes.’ Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who dost possess all the nations.” (Reardon, p. 161)

“Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father; and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” (Nicene Creed)

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