August 08 2023
Today, Tuesday August 08
A Message for Corrupt Judges
A Psalm of Asaph
“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
Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. 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. 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.
From the title, we know a man named Asaph wrote Psalm 82. He is one of many men with this same name, and who are descendants from the same family of Levites who were gifted poets, musicians, and appointed leaders for worship in the temple. We have no idea of when Asaph wrote this Psalm in Israel’s history. In Psalm 82, Asaph the poet becomes Asaph the preacher and he has a direct message for the corrupt and dishonest judges of his day.
In the previous Psalm, Asaph described the Lord judging His people during one of their feast days, but in this Psalm, it is the judges of the people that He indicts. (See also Psalms. 50 and 75.) The psalmist speaks in verse 1 and announces that God, the ultimate Judge will speak, and in verse 8, Asaph prays that God will bring justice to the whole earth. Between these statements, the Lord Himself speaks to the judges.
In verse 1, we are reminded that God is not sleeping, but standing, and is present in the congregation. Since God is the Lawgiver, He is also the Judge (Isa. 33:22), and the Judge of all the earth always does what is right (Gen. 18:25). He presides over the congregation of Israel and over the judges of the nation. The Lord is not sitting at a bench, patiently listening to the presentation of the case, because God is Judge and jury and needs nobody to tell Him the facts. He knows what people are doing on the earth and will execute judgment righteously (Psalm 11:4-7). In His court, there is no "defense" or "appeal." He is omniscient and His verdict is final. It is an awesome occasion: He is standing and about to announce His decision (Isaiah 3:13-15).
The "gods" that Asaph mentions in verses 1 and 6, are not the false gods of the heathen, for such nonexistent gods are not Jehovah's judicial representatives on earth. Nor are these "gods" the holy angels, for angels cannot die (v. 7). These "gods" (elohim) are people who have been given the awesome responsibility of representing the Lord on earth and interpreting and applying His Law (Ex. 18:13-17; 21:6; Deut. 16:18-20; 17:2-13; 19:15-20; 21:2). Jesus made this clear in His quotation of verse 6 in John 10:34-36.
It is a great responsibility to represent the Lord on earth (Lev. 19:15; Deut. 1:17; 16:19) and seek to execute justice by applying the law correctly. Romans 13 informs us that civil servants are "ministers of the Lord" and will answer to Him for what they have done.
In verses 2-7, Asaph has a message from God for the corrupt judges of the land. In Micah 6:8, we find what God requires of all of us, but especially those who are in positions of power and authority should take notice of this responsibility: "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" The judges of Asaph’s time did not do justly (v. 2), they did not love mercy (vv. 3-4), and they walked in defiance of God's will (v. 5).
The pronoun "you" in verse 2 is plural, for the Lord is addressing all the guilty judges. Along with corrupt prosecutors, these crooked judges championed the causes of the criminals who were guilty and ignored the suffering of the victims. They did this because they were bribed and dishonest. They also failed to care for the orphans and widows. (See Ex. 22:21-24; Deut. 10:17-18; Isa. 1:17; 10:1-2; Jer. 5:28; 22:3, 16; Amos 2:7; 4.1; 5:11-12; 8:6; Ezek. 16:49; 18:12; 22:29.)
This sounds a whole like what we are dealing with in our country and world today! We thank the Lord for good judges that are people of integrity and are honest and truly are committed to equal justice under the law. But at the same time, we are disappointed and find ourselves getting discouraged and losing faith in our justice system by what is presently happening.
This is a good Psalm that should remind us that our God still sits on the throne, and He will have the final word over all the judges and nations of the earth (v. 8).