Psalm 82

A Psalm of Asaph.

1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.

How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah

3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.

They do not know, nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are unstable.

I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.

7 But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations.

This psalm  was recited by the Levites in the Second Temple on the third day of the week (i.e., Tuesday)—which may therefore be the day on which the episode in John 10:22-39 took place, seeing that (1) Jesus there cites (in v.34) verse 6 of this psalm, and (2) it was His practice to take the opportunity afforded by prevailing ritual and liturgical custom to teach about His person and work as the Messiah. — Wechsler, page 202.


V.1 — The congregation of God in which God takes His stand (i.e., to execute judgment) is the people of Israel, to whom this same expression “congregation of the LORD” is elsewhere applied; so too, the “gods” in the midst of whom He judges are the leaders of Israel to whom the ministry of teaching, modeling, and enforcing God’s Word was entrusted (such as the judges and priests in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, the scribes and Pharisees). This understanding is affirmed by Jesus’ own identification of the “gods” in this psalm as “those to whom the word of God came” (John 10:35)—i.e., such men as Moses (Exodus 4:16), the judges who assisted him (Exodus 21:6 [for example]), and the subsequent judges and leaders of Israel. In all of these instances where the epithet “gods” is applied to men, it should be understood in the sense of “proxies or representatives of God.” The point of this verse is thus to underscore God’s preeminent position as the Final Judge who passes judgment on all other judges. Wechsler, pages 202-203.


Vs.2-4 — God’s challenge here … is that [His people] not judge unjustly or show partiality to the wicked, but rather that they vindicate (i.e., plead the cause of) the weak and fatherless—i.e., those who have no one else to help them or plead their cause. — Wechsler, page 203.


Vs. 5-8 — The psalmist concludes by affirming the Lord’s inevitable judgment of those “gods” who continue to judge unjustly, at which time all the foundations of the earth will be shaken—for He is the one who laid them—which imagery points to tine final judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 that immediately precedes God’s remaking of heaven and earth. Further emphasizing God’s “right” to enact this final judgment, as well as that this judgment will be enacted by the Son of God, is Asaph’s closing affirmation that “it is Thou who dost possess all the nations,” which hearkens, both conceptually and phraseologically, to the statement of the Father to the Son in Psalm 2:8: “I will give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth as They possession.” — Wechsler, pages 203-204.


Our Lord quotes [verse 6] in arguing with the Jews (John 10:34); His point being that, if Scripture calls unjust judges “gods,” because they filled the place and represented the majesty of God, surely His opponents had not right to accuse Him of blasphemy, because, as ‘the Sent of God,” and engages in doing His Father’s will, He also spoke of Himself as God. — Meyer, page 101.


Israel was designed by God to be His representative in the earth and judge of the nations. Hence her magistrates were termed “gods” i.e., representatives of God; and to them the word of God was committed in order that they should communicate it to the nations (Exodus 7:1; 21:6; 22:8-9, 28; John 10:34-35; Acts 23:5). But Israel failed to fulfill this purpose; and the prediction of this Psalm is that Messiah would take up this Divine purpose and perfectly fulfill it as Judge of Israel (v.1) and off all nations (v.8). … Between these two verses the judges of Israel are judged and their incompetency and injustice exposed (vs. 2-7). Their unrighteous judgment, their neglect to protect the defenseless, their ignorance, their refusal to learn, their aimless going to and from in the darkness, proved them to be no better than ordinary men although officially representatives and sons of God. As men they should die, and as princes they should fall. — Williams, page 364.

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