Psalm 82:3
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
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(3) Poor.—Rather, miserable. (See Psalm 41:1.) This verse recalls the solemn curse in Deuteronomy 27:19.

Psalm 82:3-4. Defend the poor and fatherless — As far as justly you may: for so this clause must be limited, as appears by comparing it with Leviticus 19:15. Do justice to the afflicted and needy — Hebrew, הצדיקו, hatzdiku, justify him, namely, when his cause is good, and he is oppressed by a potent adversary. Deliver the poor and needy — These he recommends to the special care and protection of magistrates, because such are commonly neglected and crushed by men in higher place and power, and are unable to relieve or right themselves.82:1-5 Magistrates are the mighty in authority for the public good. Magistrates are the ministers of God's providence, for keeping up order and peace, and particularly in punishing evil-doers, and protecting those that do well. Good princes and good judges, who mean well, are under Divine direction; and bad ones, who mean ill, are under Divine restraint. The authority of God is to be submitted to, in those governors whom his providence places over us. But when justice is turned from what is right, no good can be expected. The evil actions of public persons are public mischiefs.Defend the poor and fatherless - literally, judge; that is, Pronounce just judgment; see that right is done to them. This is required everywhere in the Scriptures. The meaning is not that judgment is to be pronounced in their favor because they are poor, or because they are orphans, for this would be to do what they had just been charged with as in itself wrong, accepting of persons; that is, showing favor on account of condition or rank, rather than on account of a just claim. The idea is, that the poor and the fatherless, having no natural protectors, were likely to be wronged or oppressed; that they had none to defend their claims; and that magistrates, therefore, as if they were their natural protectors, should see that their rights were maintained. See the notes at Isaiah 1:17.

Do justice to the afflicted and needy - See that justice is done them; that they are not wronged by persons of wealth, of power, and of rank. Such care does religion take of those who have no natural guardians. The poor and the needy - the widow and the fatherless - owe to the religion of the Bible a debt which no language can express.

3, 4. So must good judges act (Ps 10:14; Job 29:12). Defend the poor and fatherless; so far as justly you may; as this clause must be limited, by comparing this with Leviticus 19:15.

Do justice to, Heb. justify, to wit, when his cause is just, and he is oppressed by a potent adversary. Defend the poor and fatherless,.... Or, judge (d) them; such as have no money to enter and carry on a suit, and have no friends to assist and advise them, and abide by them; these should be taken under the care and wing of judges; their cause should be attended to, and justice done them; their persons should be protected, and their property defended and secured for, since they are called gods, they ought to imitate him whose name they bear, who is the Father of the fatherless, the Judge of the widows, and the helper of the poor that commit themselves to him, Psalm 10:14, such a righteous judge and good magistrate was Job; see Job 29:12,

do justice to the afflicted and needy; or "justify" (e) them, pronounce them righteous, give the cause for them, not right or wrong, nor because they are poor and needy, but because they are in the right; for, if wicked, they are not to be justified, this is an abomination to the Lord; see Leviticus 19:15.

(d) "judicate", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (e) "justificate", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Cocceius, &c.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
3. Judge the weak and fatherless:

Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.Verse 3. - Defend the poor and fatherless; literally, judge them. "Do not deny them justice; do not refuse to hear their cause" (comp. Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 5:28). Do justice to the afflicted and needy. After consenting to hear their cause, be sure thou doest them justice. These commands are covert reproaches. The Passover discourse now takes a sorrowful and awful turn: Israel's disobedience and self-will frustrated the gracious purpose of the commandments and promises of its God. "My people" and "Israel" alternate as in the complaint in Isaiah 1:3. לא־אבה followed by the dative, as in Deuteronomy 13:9 ([8], ου ̓ συνθελήσεις αὐτῷ). Then God made their sin their punishment, by giving them over judicially (שׁלּח as in Job 8:4) into the obduracy of their heart, which rudely shuts itself up against His mercy (from שׁרר, Aramaic שׁרר, Arabic sarra, to make firm equals to cheer, make glad), so that they went on (cf. on the sequence of tense, Psalm 61:8) in their, i.e., their own, egotistical, God-estranged determinations; the suffix is thus accented, as e.g., in Isaiah 65:2, cf. the borrowed passage Jeremiah 7:24, and the same phrase in Micah 6:16. And now, because this state of unfaithfulness in comparison with God's faithfulness has remained essentially the same even to to-day, the exalted Orator of the festival passes over forthwith to the generation of the present, and that, as is in accordance with the cheerful character of the feast, in a charmingly alluring manner. Whether we take לוּ in the signification of si (followed by the participle, as in 2 Samuel 18:12), or like אם above in Psalm 81:9 as expressing a wish, o si (if but!), Psalm 81:15. at any rate have the relation of the apodosis to it. From כּמעט (for a little, easily) it may be conjectured that the relation of Israel at that time to the nations did not correspond to the dignity of the nation of God which is called to subdue and rule the world in the strength of God. השׁיב signifies in this passage only to turn, not: to again lay upon. The meaning is, that He would turn the hand which is now chastening His people against those by whom He is chastening them (cf. on the usual meaning of the phrase, Isaiah 1:25; Amos 1:8; Jeremiah 6:9; Ezekiel 38:12). The promise in Psalm 81:16 relates to Israel and all the members of the nation. The haters of Jahve would be compelled reluctantly to submit themselves to Him, and their time would endure for ever. "Time" is equivalent to duration, and in this instance with the collateral notion of Prosperity, as elsewhere (Isaiah 13:22) of the term of punishment. One now expects that it should continue with ואאכילהוּ, in the tone of a promise. The Psalm, however, closes with an historical statement. For ויּאכילהו cannot signify et cibaret eum; it ought to be pronounced ויאכילהו. The pointing, like the lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate, takes v. 17a (cf. Deuteronomy 32:13.) as a retrospect, and apparently rightly so. For even the Asaphic Psalm 77 and 78 break off with historical pictures. V. 17b is, accordingly, also to be taken as retrospective. The words of the poet in conclusion once more change into the words of God. The closing word runs אשׂבּיעך, as in Psalm 50:8, Deuteronomy 4:31, and (with the exception of the futt. Hiph. of Lamed He verbs ending with ekka) usually. The Babylonian system of pointing nowhere recognises the suffix-form ekka. If the Israel of the present would hearken to the Lawgiver of Sinai, says v. 17, then would He renew to it the miraculous gifts of the time of the redemption under Moses.
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