Following the Blue Letter Bible chronological reading plan, they list these two psalms beside Obadiah. Having finished Obadiah, I suspect they misplaced it too early in Old Testament events, although this seems to be debated without a decisive conclusion.
So, I suspect these may feel a it out of order, as well. But I suspect they are tied to Obadiah, so I would like to read them together.
Then I will begin II Kings.
A Psalm of Asaph
God takes a stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers.Psalm 82:1
We are off with a bang. Rarely do we see behind the curtain to the spiritual realm. Let alone God standing up and speaking.
It's time for everyone to just shut up and listen like eternity relies on it.
In verses 2-4 the author of the psalm accuses the judges of judging unfairly and on behalf of the wicked. This may be, in part, why this psalm falls here as Jehoshaphat made such a priority of getting godly judges in place who judge without partiality to the rich and wicked, but based on God's word.
The author instructs these judges to judge with justice for the weak and afflicted out of the hands of the wicked.
It's a little confusing and mysterious from here. The first verse seems to frame it as the Lord getting ready to speak, but we don't see quote marks until verse 6 in which he (God or the human author) seems to be calling the rulers/judges being judged by God as, "You are gods and all of you are sons of the Most High."
He tells them they will die like men and fall like any prince.
That makes me think these rulers are supernatural beings. A Ryrie footnote labels them as men; but that seems tough to reconcile with the actual text. However, a sidebar in the NIV Chronological Bible seems to understand them to be more like angels, although it does equivocate between god (small g) and judge (human leader).
The final verse is the author exhorting the Lord to arise and judge the earth because He possesses all nations.
The last three verse, as mysterious as they are, do seem to relate to Obadiah and his last few verses about the Day of the Lord.
I think the theme that ties it together (Obadiah, Jehoshaphat, and this psalm) is that the whole world is in His hand in His possession. Nations may fuss and fight; men may sin; but there is a Day coming when the will end wickedness and anyone who chooses it over Him and over caring for the weak and afflicted, especially if that is what they had been chosen and created to do. Rulers and judges, whether it be supernatural or flesh and blood men, are established by the Lord and will be judged. That tells me that some of these really rotten leaders, today and throughout history, were given guidance by the Lord.
Psalm 82 in the NIV Chronological
Wow. What a difference translation makes.
All of the ambivalence of whether He is speaking to supernatural beings or humans is gone in this translation. Even starting in verse one, the final word in the verse is "rulers" in the NASB and "gods" in the NIV.
I looked it up in NKJ version and it is "gods" as well. And then I looked it up in the BLB and the actual word is 'ĕlōhîm, which is clearly a version of the word god.
Wiersbe interprets to mean that the Lord is standing before Israel (or I guess that could be His whole Body of believers?) and judging those He assigned to judge.
Wiersbe takes these to be the human judges, and even extends it to all believers who were to take His new Law to the people. He says these cannot be "small g" gods that people followed as idols, because those were inanimate objects and cannot be angels because they cannot dies as it described in verse 7.
This passage is actually used by Jesus in John 10. The religious leaders demand a clear answer if He is calling Himself God. He gives a pretty clear answer that "I and the Father are on." so they pick up stones to stone Him. Then in verses 34-36 He says,
Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said you are gods'? If He called them gods, to whom the word came (and the scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said I am the Son of God.'John 10:34-36
This probably should clear things up for me; but it remains a bit murky. In my uneducated and probably incorrect reading, Jesus is also blurring the lines between supernatural and human. But maybe that's the point. We are spiritual beings, made in His Imago Dei.
Wiersbe sort of concludes the psalm by summarizing it with the perspective that the Lord was speaking to human rulers all along, something such as 'you will die just like all of the other humans, you better hope you made fair judgments when you had the chance'. This makes sense to me and I think I can accept this as the easy road. Especially in light of Jesus seeming to use the term "gods" to describe the men who received the old testament. However, it feels like there is more here. A hint of what is going on behind the curtain and a hint of our true reflection of "made in God's Image".
Mystery aside, it's worth ending the reflection of this Psalm with the bigger point...if we are given any responsibility, it comes with accountability. And teacher, preacher, judge, leader, parent...anyone whom God has granted ruling or judging privileges...it's worth reminding yourself regularly that "God takes a stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers."
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph
This starts out as a "ripped from the headlines" cry to God that could have easily been written today.
The psalmist begs God not to be silent, quiet, or still, or "Aloof" in the NIV, as those who hate the Lord exalt themselves, and make shrewd plans to wipe the name of Israel off the map and out of the history books.
Then, in verse 6-8 the author lists those making a covenant against God.
Edom is listed and I am assuming that is how this psalm ended up in this chronological aside.
While this list is a regional coalition of nations at the time; I think the same remains true today. So many people groups hate the Lord and His people, both Israel and Christians. Our Holy scriptures are being labeled as hate speech in an attempt to pervert God's law and promote evil. There are actual chants that some Muslims have about driving Israel into the Sea. At every turn, politically and culturally we are under attack. And the saddest part is, for both nations, it is as much from within as from outsiders. Both nations have internal forces trying to tear the nation apart with laws, social movements, and other forces.
And that leads to the actual source of this attack, conspiracy, evil covenant- We war not against flesh and blood. But against powers and principalities of this dark world. This is a spiritual war, just as it was back then with the goal of wiping out God's people as a means to wiping out God's Plan to redeem the world.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strong holds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.II Corinthians 10:3-5
It surprises me, though it should not, that the war is big and against strongholds; but the weapon is deeply personal. Taking MY THOUGHTS into captivity.
We defeats these enemies with our Helper, the Holy Spirit, helping us to take our thoughts into captivity. The actual battle...belongs to the Lord.
Ok, back to the rest of the Psalm.
Starting in verse 9, the author brings to remembrance the other times the Lord brought a mighty enemy low. He then imagines their utter destruction such as chaff in the wind and flame burning down a mountain.
And finally, the author begs that they would be so terrified they would finally seek God and know that he is over all of the earth.
Wiersbe explains that this psalm is associated with Jehoshaphat's defeat of the coalition; so that explains the BLB alignment to this period.
Wiersbe saw the exact same modern parallels that I discussed above.
The enemies came from ever direction. And they included enemies that derived from ancient sins.
- Moab and Ammon were the incestuous sons of Lot
- Ishmaelites were the tribes who descended from Ishmael, the first son of Abraham who was born out of Sarah and Abraham's lack of faith in God's plan. Sarah made her husbands sleep with her servant to have a baby; but she was put out when Sarah's baby arrived.
- Edomites were the descendants of Esau who held a grudge for taking his blessing as the first born.
That's worth including in the equation. There are enemies who want to destroy us and some of them may have developed as enemies from our own past sins. However, it's never the people who are against us who are the real enemy. The real enemy is the enemy of the Lord and His plan for redemption of us all. It is in Him who we trust and cry out.
The examples this psalmist gave were from battles such as Gideon and Deborah and Barak. These were examples of victories that came directly from the Lord and could not be credited to any person. Jehoshaphat's victory over Edom, if that is what this psalm is about, is another example of that. Cry out to the Lord and listen to His Voice. Amen