Psalm 82

Always: Context is everything in Hebrew. People have made much of God (Elohim) referring to other figures in this psalm as gods (elohim). But it takes only a quick review of the Books of Moses to see that the term applies to human judges under the Covenant. Many come to the question from the wrong angle. It’s not that men have misused the name for God, but that God simply chose to answer to common forms of address. For all the centuries prior to Moses, the most common title of address for the Hebrew God was El (“Mighty One”) or Elohim (in context meaning “The Almighty of Mighty Ones”). Granted the latter is plural, but Hebrew isn’t quite so picky as that, often using plural nouns with singular verbs to indicate a singular subject or object that is larger than life.

Thus, the context here is God calling on the carpet every human that elevates himself to the position of rule. There’s a sense of mockery where the Creator says that He is Lord of lords, an ancient protocol that pointedly subjects any presumed authority under His. Whatever it is these mere men — rulers, princes, kings and demigods — imagine themselves to be, they are summoned before the One who holds ultimate authority.

Further, the context presumes the reader operates from the heart, not from the intellect. The Fall arose in part because mankind chose to assert his human intellect over the authority of the heart-mind. When the heart rules properly, it is the one faculty able to perceive the ultimate truth of our fallen existence; it is able to sense directly the moral fabric of reality as the character of Our Creator. The path to redemption becomes painfully obvious as the sense of moral imperative overlays everything the eyes behold, projecting brilliant hues of right and wrong on all of our human existence on-the-fly as the context morphs. Because revelation calls mankind back to the supremacy of the heart, there is no excuse for humans to rely on their own understanding to direct their own affairs, never mind shepherding others with any moral justice. God pointedly declares that mankind has failed in this duty.

The result is that they show partiality to the wicked, and allow predators to manipulate them into exposing their subjects to abuse. This psalm assumes the moral principle that all rulers would have adopted their subjects as their own family, for they have no moral standing to rule otherwise. So how could you allow outsiders to prey on your own kinfolks? Doing justice for orphans and widows has always meant ensuring their means of support are not taken. If they don’t have a father figure with at least a presumption of military capability to defend their property, then their next nearest kin is responsible for them, required to adopt them as members of his household. This keeps rolling upward through feudal extended family ties until the local king is de jure the Big Daddy of everyone under his reign. There is no room in this psalm for any other state of affairs; no other form of human government is legitimate in God’s eyes. This is the implication of the fifth verse: Do these people not grasp the nature of reality? Are they not acquainted with the natural order of things? Such ignorance is earth shattering.

Jehovah was quite willing to adopt and name as His own kinfolks the rulers of humanity, if only they had been willing to bow before His authority and embrace His terms. But no — they have chosen to pass like every other human authority that has been forgotten in human history. Finally, Asaph calls on God to arise and rule directly. It’s the ancient longing to see the Day when God reunites the Spirit Realm and the Fallen Realm through redemption of the latter. That would be the Final Day of Judgment, including the sum total of God’s wrath against sin.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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