Psalms 82


A warning to corrupt judges, 1, 2;

an exhortation to them to dispense justice without respect of

person, 3-5;

they are threatened with the judgments of the Lord, 6-8.


This Psalm, which, in the title, is attributed to Asaph, was

probably composed in the time when Jehoshaphat reformed the courts

of justice throughout his states; see 2Ch 19:6, 7, where he uses

nearly the same words as in the beginning of this Psalm.

Verse 1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty] The

Hebrew should be translated, "God standeth in the assembly of

God." God is among his people; and he presides especially in those

courts of justice which himself has established. The Court of

King's Bench is properly the place where the king presides, and

where he is supposed to be always present. But the kings of

England seldom make their appearance there. King James I.

sometimes attended: at such times it might be said, "The king is

in the king's court." I believe the case above to be similar.

Judges! beware what you do! God is in his court, and in the midst

(of the assembly) God will judge. See Parkhurst under .

Verse 2. Accept the persons of the wicked?] "Lift up their

faces," encourage them in their oppressions.

Selah.] "Mark this:" ye do it, and sorely shall ye suffer for


Verse 3. Defend the poor] You are their natural protectors under

God. They are oppressed: punish their oppressors, however rich or

powerful: and deliver them.

Verse 5. They know not] The judges are not acquainted with the

law of God, on which all their decisions should be founded.

Neither will they understand] They are ignorant and do not wish

to be instructed. They will not learn; they cannot teach. Happy

England! How different from Judea, even in the days of

Jehoshaphat! All thy judges are learned, righteous, and impartial.

Never did greater men in their profession dignify any land or


All the foundations of the earth] "All the civil institutions of

the land totter." Justice is at the head of all the institutions

in a well regulated state: when that gets poisoned or perverted,

every evil, political and domestic, must prevail; even religion

itself ceases to have any influence.

Verse 6. Ye are gods] Or, with the prefix of ke, the

particle of similitude, keelohim, "like God." Ye are my

representatives, and are clothed with my power and authority to

dispense judgment and justice, therefore all of them are said to

be children of the Most High.

Verse 7. But ye shall die like men] keadam, "ye shall die

like Adam," who fell from his high perfection and dignity as ye

have done. Your high office cannot secure you an immortality.

And fall like one of the princes.] Justice shall pursue you, and

judgment shall overtake you; and you shall be executed like public

state criminals. You shall not, in the course of nature, fall into

the grave; but your life shall be brought to an end by a legal

sentence, or a particular judgment of God.

Verse 8. Arise, O God, judge the earth] Justice is perverted in

the land: take the sceptre, and rule thyself.

For thou shalt inherit all nations.] Does not this last verse

contain a prophecy of our Lord, the calling of the Gentiles, and

the prevalence of Christianity over the earth? Thus several of the

fathers have understood the passage. It is only by the universal

spread of Christianity over the world, that the reign of

righteousness and justice is to be established: and of whom can it

be said that he shall inherit all nations, but of Jesus Christ?


There are three parts in this Psalm:-

I. The prophet's proclamation, Ps 82:1.

II. God's controversy with the judges of the land, Ps 82:2-7.

III. The prophet's prayer that God would rise and judge,

Ps 82:8.

I. God's presence proclaimed in court. At an assize the judge

sits in the midst of the justices: "God standeth in the

congregation," &c., Ps 82:1.

II. 1. He reproves them, Ps 82:2. 1. For their unjust judgment:

"Ye judge unjustly." 2. For their obstinate continuance in it:

"How long will ye," &c. Ye have not done it once, but often. 3.

For their partiality: "they accepted persons," Ps 82:2.

2. He exhorts them to do their duty. 1. "Defend the poor and

fatherless." Do right to every man. 2. "Deliver the poor and

needy," Ps 82:3.

3. He acquaints them with the events that shall follow where

justice is not done: all is out of order; and the judges are the

cause of it.

1. Through ignorance: "They know not the law," Ps 82:5.

2. Through obstinacy: "They will not learn it," Ps 82:5.

3. Through their determination to walk in their own way,

Ps 82:5: "They walk on in darkness."

4. They shall in consequence be brought, 1. To an untimely

death: "Ye shall die like men." 2. To a shameful death: "Ye shall

fall like one of the princes," ye shall have a mighty fall,

Ps 82:7.

III. The prophet's prayer. Since judgment and justice have

failed in the land, he says, 1. "Arise, O Lord! " He does not say,

Arise, O people, and put down those unjust judges. No; their

function is from God, and God alone is to reform, or strip, or

punish them. 2. "Judge the earth." Take the state of all people

into thy consideration: there is much injustice in the earth. 3.

For this petition he gives a reason: "For thou shalt inherit all

nations," Ps 82:8. Publish thy own laws, appoint thy own officers

and let them in thy name dispense righteousness and true holiness

throughout the world.

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