Psalm 82

Asaph is identified with twelve Psalms and is said to be the son of Berechiah who is said to be an ancestor of the Levitical Asaphites. He is also known as one of the three Levites commissioned by King David to be in charge of singing in the house of The LORD. In 1Chronicles 6:39, David appoints a man named Heman as the main musician or singer and Asaph as Heman’s right hand assistant and the Merarites at his left hand.  Asaph is also credited with performing at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple in 2Chronicles 5:12. During his long term, Asaph saw the best and worst of officials. His complaint against corruption among the rich and influential, recorded in Psalm 72 & 73, might have been directed towards some of the officials or rulers in Psalm 82.

The most reasonable explanation of v6, is the view most widely held over the centuries. The “gods” referred to in Psalm 82:1 and v6 are the rulers of Israel, who have failed to carry out their responsibilities as God’s representatives in the ruling of the nation. There are O.T. verses to support this interpretation: The way elohim (gods) is used elsewhere in the Old Testament, shows that the term elohim almost always refers to the one and only God, the God of Israel (Deut. 4:35,39). It sometimes refers to the so-called “gods” of the paganistic gentiles (Judges 11:24; 1Kings 18:24). The term also occasionally identifies “… rulers and/or judges as divine representatives at sacred places…”. Several passages may use elohim in this sense: “Moreover, he [Aaron] shall speak for you [Moses] to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God [elohim] to him” (Exod. 4:16). Also, Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God [elohim] to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet” (Exod. 7:1). “Then his master shall bring him to God [elohim, or, the judges who acted in God’s name, margin, NASB], then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently” (Exod. 21:6).

The teaching of the Bible is that man was created in God’s image to reign and to rule as a vice regent over the earth (Gen. 1:26,28; Rom. 8:17-21; 2 Tim. 2:12). Rulers are appointed by God to carry out His purposes of restraining evil and rewarding those who do what is good (Rom. 13:1-4). In this sense rulers not only act for God; they, in a sense, act as god or as “gods”. In view of this, consider the warning; “And he said to the judges, Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you when you render judgment. Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness, or partiality, or the taking of a bribe” (2 Chron. 19:6-7).

Jesus used this Psalm to warn hypocritical leaders, that God is their Judge of judges. See John 10:32-39. He referred to himself as the “son of God” and a God, because of his miracles being genuinely from God. A fact, which his enemies could not dispute, but they could not accept his divinity based on the miracles, even in the face of God’s Psalms referring to God calling the judges of Israel, “gods”.  This led Jesus to pronounce the harshest judgment & rebuke upon anyone, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46-47). This kind of cruel sin, can lead God’s children to sing about God sentence of wrath upon irresponsible hypocritical religious leaders. It leads Jesus to command us to pray for our enemies and do good to them, because if they don’t repent now, there is coming a day for the worst punishment of all.

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