Where can we find justice, when the judges of the world are unjust?
This Psalm imagines a court case, where God had previously given judicial authority to human leaders (here referred to as ‘gods’, because of this delegated god-like status). They had failed to administer justice, and here in this court case God holds them to account. They have propped up the unjust and the wicked (v2) when they should have been defending the weak and defenceless members of society (v3-4). In doing so, they demonstrate their utter ignorance of what is right (v5).
It is so tempting to despair when injustice in our world seems to reign with impunity, and nobody does anything about it. But those who fail to bring justice as they ought will not get away with it forever: they will fall, like the unjust before them (v7). And so the last verse is a prayer that God would rise up and bring justice to all the nations (v8). He is the only hope we have for true justice.
Several hundred years later, when Jesus walked the earth, he healed the weak and cared for the defenceless. He was questioned about the authority with which he did it, but he proved himself to be the only true god-man and Son of the Most High (v6) who has ever administered true justice. He did what his Father has always done (see John 10:34-39). And he is not standing idly by while injustice reigns in our day; we are promised that one day he will return to judge the world and bring evildoers to account. Come, Lord Jesus!
PRAYER Rise up O God! Defend and uphold the poor, the fatherless, the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Jesus, all the nations are your inheritance; come and bring justice! And may the promise that you will do this bring hope to the oppressed today. Amen.
A psalm of Asaph.
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.