Monday, April 30, 2012

You Have a Responsibility

[A Psalm of Asaph]

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

—Psalm 82 KJV Bible

Like Psalm 58, this song relates to the unjust judges who stand before God's judgment seat accused of injustice, and who hear the divine verdict of death. The psalmist asks God to extend His just judgment throughout the earth.

The psalm description says it is a song of Asaph. Asaph was an outstanding musician who lived in the time of King David (Nehemiah 12:46). Asaph's father was Berechiah (1 Chronicles 6:39). David had appointed Asaph as a minister of music for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:16-19) and Asaph's descendants were also official temple musicians (Ezra 2:41). Asaph was sometimes described as a "seer," or a prophet (2 Chronicles 29:30). Psalms 50 and 73 through 83 are attributed to Asaph, or perhaps written for Asaph to perform. The beautiful psalms of Asaph describe the world round us in a clear way, remind us that God cares for us, cause us to learn from events, and remind us of the greatness of God.

The Hebrew "selah" is used in verse 2 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

The term “god” is used several times in this psalm. For this reason I have decided to explore the Hebrew term. Presented below are transliterations of four Hebrew words that give us some understanding to the Hebrew concept of “god.”

ayil - ("AH-yil") a ram, mighty.

el - ("ALE") God, in plural gods. Shortened from “ayil”. As an adjective it means mighty; especially the Almighty, but also used for any deity—anything or anyone that is worshipped. Depending on its usage, the term can mean God, god, godly, great, idol, might, mighty one, power, or strong.

eloah - ("el-O-ah"); God, god. This is possibly a prolongation of the Hebrew “el”.

elohim - ("el-o-HEEM") - plural of "eloah"; God, god. When not applied to God Almighty, it refers to gods in the ordinary sense. The term is sometimes applied by way of deference to magistrates and is sometimes used as a superlative for angels, exceeding, God (gods, godess, godly), very great, judges, mighty.

This psalm presents the image of God, in heaven, leading a meeting. He is telling a gathering of gods what he has decided to do. There is a debate as to who these gods are and four possibilities have been suggested, in no particular order: (1) the rulers of the nations of the earth, (2) the false gods of the nations of the earth, (3) angels that have authority over the nations of the earth, and (4) the people of Israel.

The psalmist describes the gods as sons (children) of the Most High. This phrase is used in the Old Testament for the people of Israel (Exodus 4:22) and for angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). The psalmist also says the gods will die like common men (the Hebrew “ke-‘a-dam,” meaning a man or mankind).

Jesus may offer some clarity in John 10:30-38. In response to the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him for claiming to be like God, Jesus referenced Psalm 8 and inferred that the “gods” were ones to whom the Word of God came. This would suggest that the psalmist is talking about the people of Israel or to all people in general.

Angels may be a second meaning for the “gods” of this psalm. The Apostle Paul seems to indicate this in Ephesians 6:12.

In verses 1 through 2, the psalmist describes a group of unjust judges who stand before God’s judgment seat. The psalmist records God’s accusing the judges of injustice. “God (elohim) stands in the assembly of God (el). He judges in the midst of the gods (elohim). He asks, ‘How long will you judge unjustly and lift up the faces of the wicked?’ Selah.”

In verses 3 through 5, God lists the injustices of these gods. They have not helped the weak, the orphaned, the afflicted, and the poor. God reminds these gods that while the people to not know better, these gods do.

In verses 6 and 7, the psalmist notes God’s divine verdict of death. “I said ‘You are gods (elohim); you are all children of the Most High.’ But you will like common men; you will fall like every other ruler.”

In verse 8, the psalmist asks God to extend His just judgment throughout the earth. This may indicate that God was at first speaking only to Israel and that the psalmist wants God to extend His judgment to all the nations.

Father, I understand that I am responsible for what I know, and for what and who I influence. Forgive me where I have failed You. Help me to be a better tender of those whom You have entrusted to me.


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