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God and the Judges of the Earth 

What you should know about a nation’s judges

Psalm 82

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 3, In the year of our Lord, 2013

Scripture Reader and Reading: Gene Tomlinson – John 10.31–39

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Kevin Michael – No suggestions


  1. Psalm 82.0 – God and Judges

    0 A Psalm of Asaph.
    (Psa 82.0)

    1. Who was Asaph?
      1. When you list the writers whom God used to write the Bible,
      2. do you include Asaph in your list?
        1. We should because he wrote more of the Bible than
        2. others whom we know well,
          1. such as Peter, James, and Jude,
          2. Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, Haggai, and some other prophets.
    2. He wrote the lyrics of Psalms: 50, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, and 83.
    3. He wrote the music for many Psalms, although the Lord did not preserve it.
  2. Psalm 82.1 – God Judges

    1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
    He judges among the gods.
    (Psa 82.1)

    1. Asaph made an awesome declaration of our God.
      1. We would do well to remind ourselves of it constantly.
      2. Throughout the day remind yourself of who our God is and what He does.
    2. “Gods” in this verse refers to human judges,
      1. which is how Jesus understood it in John 10, because
      2. some people work in the stead of God,
        1. such as Moses toward Aaron,16 “So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God” (Exo 4.16).
        2. Judges are to us as God because we seek justice from them.
    3. However, Asaph declared that God knows
      1. what judges do and
      2. what they fail to do.
    4. Therefore, judges should know that they are not alone in their judging.
      1. God stands among them.
      2. He will uphold them when they do their jobs.
      3. He will defeat them when they fail to do their jobs.
    5. Picture God standing in an assembly
      1. with the judges of the earth.
      2. Then watch what He does next.
  3. Psalm 82.2 – Human Judges

    2 How long will you judge unjustly,
    And show partiality to the wicked?
    (Psa 82.2)

    1. As God stands among the gods, the judges, He questions them.
      1. They question people.
      2. Or they listen to lawyers question people, but
        1. God in heaven questions the judges.
        2. Are they ready for questioning from the God of heaven?
    2. God watches to see what man will do.1 “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem;
      See now and know;
      And seek in her open places
      If you can find a man,
      If there is anyone who executes judgment,
      Who seeks the truth,
      And I will pardon her.”
      (Jer 5.1)
    3. Are you, judges, not aware that God watches you?8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them (Ecc 5.8).
  4. Selah – Ponder the Judgment of God 
    1. You better stop and think about God and justice.
      1. Verse 2 ended with a question, and
      2. the Lord stopped that judges, and all of us, might answer Him.
        1. If you judge people unjustly,
        2. if you show partiality to the wicked,
          1. how long will you continue to do so?
          2. How long do you think you can get away with it?
    2. If you have been judged unfairly,
      1. God knows and He will do something about it.
      2. Judges should also know that God put them in place for a reason.
  5. Psalm 82.3, 4 – Whom to Judge

    3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
    Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
    4 Deliver the poor and needy;
    Free them from the hand of the wicked.
    (Psa 82.3, 4)

    1. While standing among the judges, and
    2. questioning them, He admonishes them:
      1. Concerning the poor and fatherless
        1. Defend those who cannot afford to defend themselves.
        2. Defend those who have no father to stand up for them.
      2. Concerning the afflicted and needy
        1. Do justice for those hurt by those stronger than them.
        2. Do justice for those who lack because of an injustice done to them.
      3. Concerning the poor and needy
        1. Do not just defend the poor, deliver them.
        2. Do not just do justice for the needy, deliver them.
      4. Concerning the hand of the wicked
        1. Free those who cannot free themselves from the hand of the wicked.
        2. Punish the wicked for hurting others.
  6. Psalm 82.5 – Foundations of Judging

    5 They do not know, nor do they understand;
    They walk about in darkness;
    All the foundations of the earth are unstable.
    (Psa 82.5)

    1. Since these judges did not fulfill their jobs,
      1. see what they caused, and
      2. notice the progression in the psalmist’s thought:
        1. They do know, and
        2. since they do not know,
          1. they do not understand, and
          2. since they do not understand,
            1. they walk in darkness, and
            2. since they walk in darkness,
              1. they do not know, understand, and see
              2. that they have made the foundations of the earth unstable,
              3. and here is how that happens.
    2. Ecclesiastes 8 shows
      1. that when judges fail at justice,
      2. the wicked increase their wickedness,11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil (Ecc 8.11).
    3. Thus, as another psalmist wrote,3 If the foundations are destroyed,
      What can the righteous do?
      (Psa 11.3)
    4. Therefore, when justice fails in a nation, do not be surprised to see
      1. the failure of the foundations of personal safety, and
      2. the failure of the foundations of national economy, peace, and religion.
  7. Psalm 82.6, 7 – Human Judges Shall Fall

    6 I said, “You are gods,
    And all of you are children of the Most High.
    7 But you shall die like men,
    And fall like one of the princes.”
    (Psa 82.6, 7)

    1. The power of judges resembles the power of God, hence they are as gods.
    2. When someone does as God does,
      1. in this case judging,
      2. he functions as God,
        1. not making that person a God, but
        2. working in God’s stead.
    3. Nevertheless, the point of this passage is
      1. that although those judges are as “gods” and
      2. are children of the Most High,
        1. they shall still die as men.
        2. Even as a prince among men dies,
          1. so shall the judges die, and then
          2. they all appear before the Judge of all the Earth.
    4. Leroy Brownlow said of Psalm 82.6, 7,“Rulers were called ‘gods’ because of their role in humanity’s affairs. But beneath those royal robes is a mortality as fragile as the obscure peasant…Renown will not ease the pain of disease nor stop it from taking its toll” (Living with the Psalms).
  8. Psalm 82.8 – God Judges

    8 Arise, O God, judge the earth;
    For You shall inherit all nations.
    (Psa 82.8)

    1. Asaph urged God
      1. to arise and judge the Earth, for
      2. as Abraham referred to God,
        1. He is the Judge of all the Earth (Gen 18.25).
    2. While Asaph showed God standing in verse 1,
      1. now the psalmist urges God to act,
      2. to rise to the occasion, and
        1. do what human judges fail to do.
    3. He is the Judge of all the Earth, and so
      1. He shall inherit all the nations,
      2. as Revelation 11 pictures,15 “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11.15).
      3. This fulfills Daniel 2,44 “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan 2.44).
    4. Listen to this closing verse of Psalm 82 carefully, for
      1. it reveals that our God has always been the God of all nations,
      2. even in the Old Testament.
        1. Please do not commit the error of believing
        2. that the Old Testament was only for Israel, and
          1. has nothing to do with Christians, the church, or nations today.


  1. After reading Psalm 82, we should know 
    1. that we do not need to fret and worry, and
    2. that God runs
      1. our nation,
      2. the church, and
      3. our lives.
  2. Are you troubled by things going on in the government? 
    1. Do not forget this psalm!
    2. You need to know,“Judges shall be judged, and to justices justice shall be meted out” (Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, p. 411).
    3. Remember that verse 1 said of God that He, “judges among the gods.”“They are gods to other men, but he is God to them. He lends them his name, and this is their authority for acting as judges, but they must take care that they do not misuse the power entrusted to them, for the Judge of judges is in session among them” (Ibid.).
    4. Again hear Ecclesiastes 5.8,8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them (Ecc 5.8).
  3. Go to sleep at night,
    1. knowing that there is a God in heaven
    2. who does not sleep, and
      1. He continues to watch over the affairs of this life,
      2. so that any apparent delay of justice
        1. is just Him waiting for men to repent, for
        2. if they do not,
          1. He shall judge them, and
          2. they shall fall, and
            1. He does not want that
            2. for them or for you.
    3. That is the point of the Book of Habakkuk.
      1. The prophet complained to God,4 Therefore the law is powerless,
        And justice never goes forth.
        For the wicked surround the righteous;
        Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
        (Hab 1.4)
      2. God answered the prophet with something he did not want to hear,5a “Look among the nations and watch—
        (Hab 1.5a)
      3. The prophet questioned what God was doing,13b Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
        And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
        A person more righteous than he?
        (Hab 1.13b)
      4. Therefore, the prophet said he would wait to see what would happen,1 I will stand my watch
        And set myself on the rampart,
        And watch to see what He will say to me,
        And what I will answer when I am corrected.
        (Hab 2.1)
      5. The Lord then assured the prophet,2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
        “Write the vision
        And make it plain on tablets,
        That he may run who reads it.
        3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
        But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
        Though it tarries, wait for it;
        Because it will surely come,
        It will not tarry.
        4 Behold the proud,
        His soul is not upright in him;
        But the just shall live by his faith.”
        (Hab 2.2–4)
  4. Let your spirit be lifted up, because 
    1. God stands,
    2. God judges,
    3. God arises, and
    4. God inherits all nations.
      1. He does these things for the sake of His people in the church.
      2. Therefore, be a faithful member of the church.
  5. The best things you can do while you wait for Him to judge is 
    1. trust Him and
    2. obey Him.