Read: Psalm 82; 1 Chronicles 16:5 – 7; Ecclesiastes 5:8
Psalm 82 was written by Asaph, a professional musician appointed by David to provide music for worship in the tabernacle. It is not a typical psalm of worship; it is a prophetic cry against injustice and corruption, in which God speaks in the first person. Although the psalm refers to no specific incident, it tells us that even under David’s just reign there were corrupt officials. What David could punish with the sword, Asaph excoriates with the pen, in a song.
Think About It: What does the inspiration of this psalm tell us about what pleases God in worship? Should we be surprised when we hear about corruption in high places? How would David have responded when he heard this psalm?
Prayer: Lord, help me to care passionately about justice.
Read: Psalm 82:1; Proverbs 21:1; Isaiah 10:7; 2 Chronicles 19:6; Deuteronomy 1:17
When the king’s council met, when the judges sat in judgment, God stood in their midst. Today, when Congress convenes, when the Supreme Court or circuit courts sit in judgment, God stands in their midst. Mighty men are as gods to those they rule and judge, but God holds them accountable for their actions and decisions. God is referred to as standing because in ancient times judges heard cases while sitting, but stood to give judgment.
Think About It: Why do I need not fear corruption in high places? What historical evidence do we have that God judges worldly judges and rulers?
Prayer: Thank God that He is a just and sovereign judge.
Read: Psalm 82:2; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 61:2; Hebrews 3:13, 4:7
In Psalm 82:2 God gives His indictment and judgment. God brooks no discussion of what has been done; in asking “how long?” He calls for an immediate end to the practice of condemning the righteous and giving the wicked a pass.
Think About It: Why is “how long?” is a good question to ask of anyone who is continuing in sin, and a good question to ask of myself?
Prayer: For a sensitive conscience; for willingness to readily repent of sin.
Read: Psalm 82:3 – 4; Job 29:11 – 17; Luke 18:1 – 8
The objects of God’s interest are clearly named: the poor, fatherless, afflicted, and needy, including those who have already been ensnared by the wicked. There is no monetary gain, no promise of power or advantage, for those who help the powerless and oppressed, but God expects that help to be given by those in power. Action verbs are used to describe the justice God expects: “deliver” them, “rid” them out of the hand of the wicked.
Think About It: What kind of a judge is God? Do I believe that God is a just judge, that He will render justice to His people in due time?
Prayer: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”
Read: Psalm 82:5; Psalm 11:3 – 7
Spurgeon writes of this verse: “A wretched plight for a nation to be in when its justices know no justice, and its judges are devoid of judgment. Neither to know his duty nor to wish to know it is rather the mark of an incorrigible criminal than of a magistrate.” Judges and others in authority are expected both to know their duty, and to do it. If those whom God has appointed to execute justice are unjust, then indeed “the foundations of the earth are out of course.”
Think About It: Psalm 11:3 – 7 considers a similar problem, and raises the question, “What shall the just man do?” What is the answer to that question, according to Psalm 11?
Prayer: Lord, when the foundations are out of course, set them right.
Read: Psalm 82: 6 – 7; Psalm 2:6 – 7; 10 – 12; 1 Peter 1:24; 1 Timothy 6:7
The “divine right of kings” has sometimes, by wicked rulers, been interpreted as the right to govern according to their evil whims and desires. In Psalm 82 God makes it clear what He expects of the authority He appoints: to do justice, especially for the poor, fatherless, and powerless. If kings and judges do not know their duty or refuse to do it, God’s judgment rests upon them: “they shall die like men.” Notice also in these verses that Sonship is aligned with kingship and judgeship. This foreshadows the coming of the Son of God, who fulfills all of His Father’s requirements.
Think About It: What is my responsibility towards God-ordained authority? What do I have a right to expect from that authority? What is my attitude towards authority?
Prayer: For a submissive attitude towards rightful authority.
Read: Psalm 82:8; Psalm 2:8; Psalm 22:8: Revelation 19:6; 22:20
Andrew A. Bonar writes of this verse, “The saints are raising the loud cry of Psalm 82:8, inviting Messiah, the true God, the Son of the Most High (John 10:34), the Mighty One, the Judge and Ruler, to arise and take his inheritance, for he is the heir of all things, . . .who will judge, or govern and rule, a mismanaged earth.”
Think About It: Am I ready for the coming judgment?
Prayer: Even so, come Lord Jesus!