Psalms Chapter 82: God speaks-He is judging our petty gods.

Psalm 82  (KJV)


This lament reads like a court hearing. Although I will label it as a lament, it is not easily defined as such.  However, it is a community prayer by the psalmist for spiritual beings/leaders who God tasked with the job of taking care of the vulnerable. There is a misperception about this psalm. Some people think that it references gods as in carnal or pagan gods. But it reads more like a focus on the injustices or tyranny of this world. God is pictured as standing tall and upright among the spiritual powers and authorities who were tasked to carry out his kingdom work on earth. However, they became rogue leaders who apparently were demagogs. YHWH is condemning these leaders who have not thought it sinful to place themselves higher than the authority of God. Verse s shows that God Himself will take direct control of the affairs of this world. Doesn’t it remind you of the contents of the latter part of the Book of Revelation? 

We can divide this psalm into three sections.

  1. The assembly of gods/spiritual beings before God (82:1-4).
  2. The failure of the gods/spiritual beings; Do your job! (82:5).
  3. God is gracious; therefore, so he warns them (82:6-7).
  4. The replacement of gods/spiritual beings with God (82:8).

The Assembly of Spiritual Beings Before God

1 God standeth in the congregation [Longman denotes that the Hebrew word used here is  ‘adat-’el. Translated it means ‘divine’ assembly] of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods {The word gods is not noted in the original translation of this verse. However, we are well aware that there were indeed gods “plural” during the time of Israel’s history. See Exodus 15:11; 18:11; Psalms 86:8; 138:1  and ] Then , as now, people had their household gods, statues, or things that they worship instead of YHWH. Exodus 20:3 (KJV) identifies the problem as a present challenge for the people of God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” So, what could the word “gods” mean in this verse? Sometimes the word “elohim” means spiritual beings. So in this instance, in this verse in order for us to be clear about the personages that are being referenced by the psalmist we must go back to the spiritual beings that YHWH authorized to carry out his will on earth.  See Job 1:6 Note that the angelic beings were called “sons of God.”  

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.


Once again, we see the “how long” refrainRemember that this is talking about angelic beings who are not doing their job.  Why aren’t they ensuring that justice is operable for the vulnerable, for example, the weak, fatherless, poor, oppressed, and or the needy?  These individuals have no other help. They have no resources to overcome those who are taking advantage of them ( the wicked persons ). You see, God is concerned for the vulnerable. For further explanation, see Exodus 22:22– 24; Psalms 68:5– 6; 94:4– 7; 146:2– 9.  

The failure of the gods/beings; Do your job – a direct conversation with the failing spiritual beings.

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

This verse is not addressing a lack of knowledge of what they should be doing. They have the experience, but they are refusing to follow through.  Not only are they refusing to follow through, but they are also choosing to follow the path of darkness. Can you imagine making that choice rather than light? The result of their refusal? “all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” The entire world is out of balance and off course. It is now unstable.  Can you read this verse and envision the path of our current society? Can you see the end result of the rebellion of the ‘beings?”

Goldingay proposes that “all the foundations of the earth are out of course….”

“That might refer to the earth’s moral foundations. Using different words, the metaphor appears in 11:3 and perhaps in 75:3 [4]. When faithless people ignore or oppress the poor and no one does anything to rescue them, the very structure of human existence is imperiled. The whole society may collapse.  [He takes this thought to its theological conclusion. . .] But that leads into the further possibility that the colon refers to [a] kind of world calamity.


God is gracious; therefore, so he warns them

I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

Please beware of this critical fact: God created all spiritual beings. It is within his power to end them forever by making them mortal. We cannot visualize this at all because we live within the limitations of space, time, and real thoughts and desires. But this scripture clearly states that they will “die like men.” I, for one, will not argue with scripture – it is not a metaphor. The ‘gods/beings” are not equal, in their mortality/immortality, to God. Their judgment will be harsher because they sinned in full knowledge. They were there when YHWH laid our his plans for the foundations of the earth. They were there when he mapped out the genes and DNA of every human being that has ever lived.  They knew that God wanted to grow his “God Family!” Apparently, these spiritual beings have not entirely handed themselves over to the dark side. According to Goldingray,

The NT picks up that idea. The heavenly powers were created in or by Christ and through and for Christ (Col. 1:15– 16), and by dying Christ has defeated and dethroned them or divested himself of them, and triumphed over them (Col. 2:15). They are subject to him (1 Pet. 3:22), and they cannot separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38– 39). Yet we still battle against them (Eph. 6:12). Evidently they are still capable of asserting themselves, and we still look forward to God’s final judgment on them (1 Cor. 15:24– 25). [ In the final analysis] . . . we still pray for God’s authority to be exercised over them in the now (cf. Eph. 6:12, 18), as the psalm does. (Goldingay 2007, 845)

My friends, the spiritual battle rages on…But God knows that . . .

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

The psalmist ends the prayer by asking YHWH/The Warrior King of  Psalm 7:6-9 to judge the gods and all people on earth who are following their wicked ways.  How does this speak to me? I see the injustices. I also see the neglect of the poor, the elderly, the children, the needy, and it makes my heartache. Sometimes, if I am not careful, it makes me scared for all people groups. It makes me think that the hatred and kafuffle that permeated this earth.  The world is a crazy place, and some leaders appear to have lost their minds… BUT remember that . . . .we overcome through prayer. We have hope because Jesus came and will once again return to take over the rulership of this earth FOREVER. Philippians 2:10  reminds us of that fact

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in the earth, and [things] under the earth;”


Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 2 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. Accessed March 2, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed March 2, 2020. ProQuest Ebook Central.

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