Lent Devotional: Psalm 82
by Jonathan Haefs
Psalm 82 (click here)
God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:1-4)
A community lament… a communal cry to the Lord…
…that is what is at the heart of Psalm 82.
God has taken up his place in the midst of human rulers (“gods”) who are oppressing the people, being partial to the wicked, and neglecting the needy. The Lord calls out to them for repentance and true justice. When the community sings this Psalm, their voices unite with the voice of God and they are reminded that the Lord is with them and for them… and that he is also gracious… even to unjust rulers.
Of course we can’t relate to this at all today. We have no corrupt leaders who seek their own gain at the expense of the people they are supposed to be serving. Our globe is now blessed with completely just and fair rulers.
Pardon my immense sarcasm.
The real question is does the church take up the communal cry of Psalm 82 on behalf of our world… or do we seek to align ourselves with those in power so that we might be beneficiaries of their partiality?
All too often, Christian community is tempted to ingratiate itself to corrupt powers instead of prophetically calling them out for their oppression. It’s true that it is costly to speak out against corruption… but sacrificing ourselves for the sake of those who cannot help themselves is exactly what it means to be a cruciform community.
Will we be silent as long as the “powers that be” are “for” us… or will we cry out as a community and bear witness to the heart of God no matter what it costs us? Will we be a cruciform community?