|The Duty of Rule|
The Story: This particular psalm of Asaph lends itself to some fairly wild interpretations because of the prophet’s use of elohim, a word most often associated with God or false deities. Taken in the most literal sense, this psalm has God meeting in a kind of council with other gods – a concept more familiar to Greek mythology than Biblical religion. I think the best way to understand this psalm is to look to Jesus’ understanding of verse 6 (cf. Jn. 10:34, 35) and to follow the KJV translators in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8, 9, 28. Jesus interpreted Psalm 82:6, “I said, ‘You are gods,’” as applying to people, and in our context, people entrusted with the rule of God’s people (as, indeed, the detractors to whom Jesus was responding probably were). The KJV translates elohim as “judges” in the Exodus passages, a rendering that seems to be based on the parallelism used in Exodus 22:28 between elohim and “rulers.” If this is the best way to interpret this word, then the psalm makes sense and would have come as a crucial word to the rulers – priests, king, judges – of Asaph’s day. Entrusted with divine authority (the phrase in v. 1 is probably best rendered, “assembly [appointed by] God”), rulers should expect to be held accountable by God, that is, by His Word. And as God’s prophet, Asaph comes in this psalm, with the authority of God, to minister His Word to His chosen servants. They’re not going to like what they hear.
The Structure: The work of leadership in the Church is a most high calling. Whether as a pastor, elder, deacon, or any other kind of leadership role, God entrusts the care of His precious flock to those who assume these positions (Acts 20:28). They have the duty of leading and caring for the flock according to the Word of God, and the Word of God stands over them to guide, judge, and correct their actions. He is unwise who accepts leadership in the Church without a deep sense of the awesome responsibility entrusted to him. God is continually watching over His flock and its shepherds; His Word and Spirit are the standard and power by which they must do their work. Those who seek to rule by any other standard or in any other way can expect to know the displeasure of God, as the rulers of Psalm 82 would discover.How do the leaders of your church maintain accountability to the Word of God for their decisions?
For more insight on reading the Psalms, get the book, How to Read the Psalms, by Tremper Longman III.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.