The Last Word
Lord, Your Word is open before me. Help me, by Your Spirit, to be open to You, willing for You to change me.
Read PSALM 82
1 God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:
2 “How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The test of our work is not… profit… or… status… but its effects on creation. Are persons impoverished? Is the land diminished?…Is the world less or more because of my work?” (Eugene Peterson).
Rational people don’t call them deities because they are not found in fancy temples. Yet there are indeed councils of gods who preside over the world’s affairs: the gods of racism, materialism, recreation, fame, sexual pleasure, entertainment, wealth, popularity, beauty, status, success and violence. In service and honor to them, politicians bow before them, governments legislate, businesses make profits, nations go to war, and treaties are signed and broken. It takes faith to believe that these gods do not have the last word in human affairs.
Israel too, surrounded by the many gods of neighboring countries, felt besieged. Self-serving deities were imagined assembling at New Year to determine forthcoming events. This court would have been a symbol of random power and amoral chance. For believers hearing Yahweh’s own words in this psalm, there is exasperation. For us, living between Calvary and Jesus’ second coming, it can feel at best like limbo and at worst like hell, as exploitation and degradation, greed and genocide hold sway. All day long, in our streets and on our screens, we are assaulted by an underlying evil that seizes individuals and institutions. We cry out in desperation: “How long?” We witness injustice and cruelty wreaked on the most vulnerable; we see those responsible for their protection abusing their position and we howl, “How long?”
Psalm 82 pronounces God’s judgment on these gods. They are guilty of heinous crimes; they are dethroned. Their end is assured. In fighting for justice, in alleviating the suffering of the poor, in living counter-culturally, we are aligning ourselves with God’s purposes. We are joining our voices to those of God’s people through the ages, who have called, “Rise up, O God, judge the earth” (8). We are siding with the Almighty Sovereign Judge, whose justice and mercy meet at the cross of Christ, whose final
glorious victory is assured.
Bring to the Judge of the earth a justice issue which is troubling you today. Ask, “Lord, what would you have me do?”
Father, I am challenged by the truth of this psalm. Show me ways I can act against injustice and practice mercy. I also want to pray with informed intercession for those in positions of power.