Thursday, 7 August 2014

(220) August 7: Psalm 82-83 & Romans 8:19-39

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read consider what we are being told about God’s judgement.

To ponder:
Who the “gods” of Psalm 82 are is debated. Most likely, they are human rulers throughout the earth rather than angelic beings, as the psalm rebukes those who oppress others, and has worldwide judgement in mind (82v2-4, 8). Jesus seems to understand the phrase as referring to men (Jn 10v34-35). The psalm begins with God sitting in judgement amongst the “great assembly” – probably assembled humanity (84v1). This looks to the last day when all will be raised to stand before God, but here is a pictorial way of portraying humanity’s accountability to God in the present. So God rebukes rulers for injustice and urges them to defend the weak and needy, who lack the light of understanding as to what is happening to them or how to help themselves (84v3-5). The shaking of “foundations” mentioned may refer to the turmoil of the earth within which they find themselves helpless, or to how injustice cuts at the very ground of the creation’s existence. Either way, although God gives great dignity to rulers as “gods” and “sons of the Most High” because, above all, they are called to rule in his image; nevertheless, he reminds them that they will die like every other man or ruler, and so must not presume themselves exempt from judgement. The psalm therefore ends calling God to judge the earth because all nations are his inheritance (84v6-8). They therefore belong to and are subject to him as king and so judge. Whatever authority we bear in the home, church, or society, this psalm urges us to act justly and love mercy. But above all, it reminds us tyrants will be judged, and that all rulers are to do what is just and use their power for the weak and needy.
            Psalm 83 concludes the psalms of Asaph. Again, it calls on God to act against his enemies - an alliance of nations who conspire to destroy Israel during the time Assyria were dominant (83v1-8). The prayer is that God would do to them as he did to Israel’s enemies in the time of the Judges (83v9-12), consuming, pursuing, and terrifying them, so that they are shamed for what they’ve done, and so that those who look on seek God (83v13-17). Fascinatingly, those who might seek God in the psalm are the enemies themselves, on recognising by God’s action that he is the Most High over all the earth (83v18). This displays amazing grace in God, and in the psalmist. And this desire was literally fulfilled in both Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Darius of Persia (Dan 4v1-3, 6v26-27)! Although the psalm therefore validates the prayer for judgement on the church’s oppressors (as Jesus did in Lk 18v1-8), it also commends the praying for one’s enemies Jesus urged upon us – the desire that within any judgement in this life such people would be brought to acknowledge God and repent of sin.
Praying it home:                                                                                   
Praise God that he tempers justice with mercy. Pray that the rulers of your nation would act justly and defend the weak and needy.

Thinking further:
None today.

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