Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Unrighteous Judges (Psalm 82)

"How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked?" (Ps. 82:2).

Psalm 82 warns judges and rulers who do not submit to God’s rule that they will perish in their wickedness. God has established rulers and judges to restrain evil in society, yet many promote it instead. While they claim to judge rightly, they undermine ethics and morality by allowing injustice to continue. We see this in our country where courts set criminals free and allow the unborn to be murdered. Such courts “walk about in darkness,” for they have rejected the standards of justice established by God.

Yet Psalm 82 reminds us that “however much the rulers of the world may exalt themselves, they cannot in the least impair the authority of God, by divesting Him of His sovereignty over them and of the government of all things, which He will ever retain as His inalienable prerogative,” Calvin wrote. God calls judges “gods” emphasizing the authority He has given them to rule. Yet the very people God has established to restrain violence use their power to promote violence. Judges who legalize and exalt immorality are guilty of grossly neglecting their God-given duties.

Many unjust leaders rationalize that no matter the nature of their laws, they maintain their dignity by the office they hold. But “if you appeal to your dignity as an argument to shield you, this boasting will avail you nothing,” Calvin wrote. “Rather you are deceiving yourselves by your foolish confidence; for God, in appointing you His substitutes, has not divested Himself of His own sovereignty as supreme ruler. Again, He would have you to remember your own frailty as a means of stirring you up to execute with fear and trembling the office entrusted to you.… The dignity with which judges are invested can form no excuse or plea why they should escape the punishment which their wickedness deserves. The government of the world has been committed to them upon the understanding that they themselves also must one day appear at the judgment seat of heaven to render up an account.” God has a rightful claim to the obedience of all nations. Unjust leaders oppose Him directly when they confound good and evil. We ought therefore to pray to God that He bring our nation to its knees in obedience and submission to Him.

Read John 10:22–42. How does Jesus apply Psalm 82 to His situation? If God calls judges gods, why is it appropriate for Him to call Christ the Son of God? What does this say about the honor and responsibility bestowed on judges? Think about ways you can help call judges to account for their unrighteous actions.