Pastor Steve Ellison: How Long?
In my reading, I have come to the end of Isaiah, and read the appropriate passages in 2 Kings 21:1-17 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-9 concerning Manasseh.
The chronologically arranged Bible that I happen to be reading through places Psalm 82 next. The exact time of its writing is not known. Asaph is listed as the author, however there is more than one Asaph in the Old Testament.
The most prominent one served as an important musician and singer presiding over worship services under King David. In any case, those who arranged this Bible put Psalm 82 here because the content of the psalm very closely fits the conditions of Israel at the time.
This psalm repeats a familiar Biblical theme, one that based on its repetition, is very important to God. Dear reader, disregard God’s clear warning at your own peril.
In Psalm 82, God addresses those who have been placed in leadership positions in Israel, primarily judges. And He wastes no time, getting right to the point in verse 2:
“God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. 2 How long will you judge unjustly And show partiality to the wicked? Selah. 3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, "You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. 7 "Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes." 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations. (NASU)
God rises to speak; He rises to judge the judges, His judges. These judges, judge at God’s appointment and at God’s pleasure. These judges, judge God’s people, whom He loves very much. These judges bear a weighty responsibility. These judges will be held accountable in the present and in the future.
One would be hard-pressed to read very far in the Bible and not come across a passage like this one. The theme of “be very careful how you treat the weak” is an oft repeated Biblical chorus. This seems to be the measure by which these judges are judged; it is pretty simple and easy to understand.
God begins by asking a rhetorical question designed to simultaneously bring conviction and strike fear into the heart. How long will you mistreat people and thus thumb your nose at Me? Do you imagine that this escapes my notice? How long do you suppose I will ignore that? Do you think you can avoid my punishing wrath forever?
The rest of the Psalm gives a clear plan of action to begin restitution and avoid piling up additional punishment for oneself. Our behavior on earth results in the storing up of rewards and punishments in heaven for the believer. I assume that if moths, rust, and thieves cannot get at the rewards, neither will they get to the punishments.
Verses three through eight drive the point home that we had better protect the weak among us from the wicked among us. Furthermore, we must treat the weak with fairness, kindness, compassion, generosity, and mercy.
Oh believer, the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the eternal penalty for your sins, thus you are justified before a thrice Holy God. And you have been reconciled to Him. But understand, God will not be mocked, you will reap what you have sown. At some point you will give an account, even for every idle word you have spoken.