Psalm 82:2
How long will you judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
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(2-4) These verses contain the rebuke addressed by the supreme judge to those abusing the judicial office and function.

(2) How long?—What a terrible severity in this Divine Quousque tandem!

“The gods

Grow angry with your patience; this their care,

And must be yours, that guilty men escape not;

As crimes do grow, justice should rouse itself.”


Judge unjustly.—Literally, judge iniquity. For the opposite expression see Psalm 58:1. Leviticus 19:15, which lays down the great principle of strictly fair and unbribable justice is evidently in the poet’s mind, as is shown by the use of the next clause.

Accept the persons.—Literally, lift up the faces. An expression arising from the Eastern custom of prostration before a king or judge. The accepted suitor is commanded to “lift up his face,” i.e., to arise. (Comp. Proverbs 18:5, and Jehoshaphat’s address to the judges, 2Chronicles 19:7.) This fine sense of the majesty of incorruptible justice attended Israel throughout its history. (See Ecclesiasticus 7:6.)

Psalm 82:2. How long will ye judge unjustly? — The psalmist speaks to them in God’s name, and reproves them for their continued unrighteousness in their public administrations; and accept the persons of the wicked — By overlooking the merits of the cause, and giving sentence according to your respect or affection to the person. It appears from Isaiah 1:23, that the courts of justice were very corrupt in Hezekiah’s reign, at which time probably this Psalm was written.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.How long will ye judge unjustly - literally, Judge evil. This is designed, evidently, to denote the prevailing character of the magistrates at the time when the psalm was written. Unhappily such occasions occur very often in the course of human affairs.

And accept the persons of the wicked? - literally, Lift up, or bear, the faces of the wicked. The meaning is, that they showed favor or partiality to wicked people; they did not decide cases according to truth, but were influenced by a regard for particular persons on account of their rank, their position, their wealth, or their relation to themselves. This is a common phrase in the Scriptures to denote favoritism or partiality. Job 34:19; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17.

2. accept the persons—literally, "lift up the faces," that is, from dejection, or admit to favor and communion, regardless of merit (Le 19:15; Pr 18:5). The psalmist speaketh to them in God’s name, and reproves them for their continued and resolved unrighteousness in their public administrations.

Accept the persons, by overlooking the merits of the cause, and giving sentence according to your respect or affection to the person. How long will ye judge unjustly,.... These are the words not of the psalmist, but of the divine Person that stands in the congregation of the mighty, and judges among the gods; calling the unjust judges to an account, and reproving them for their unrighteous proceedings and perversion of justice, in which they had long continued, and which was an aggravation of their sin; this is very applicable to the rulers and judges of the Jewish nation in the times of Christ, who had long dealt very unjustly, and continued to do so; they judged wrong judgment, or judgment of iniquity, as Aben Ezra renders it, both in civil and ecclesiastical things; their judgment was depraved concerning the law, which they transgressed and made void by adhering to the traditions of the elders; they passed an unrighteous judgment on John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, rejecting his baptism, and calling him a devil; and upon Christ himself, adjudging him to death for crimes he was not guilty of; and upon his followers, whom they cast out of the synagogue; the character of an unjust judge see in Luke 18:2,

and accept the persons of the wicked? gave the cause in favour of them, and against the righteous, because they were rich, or related to them, or had bribes from them, contrary to the law in Deuteronomy 16:19, so the judges among the Jews, in Christ's time, judged according to appearance, the outward circumstances of men, and not righteous judgment, as our Lord suggests, John 7:24.

Selah. See Gill on Psalm 3:2.

How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the {b} wicked? Selah.

(b) For thieves and murderers find favour in judgment when the cause of the godly cannot be heard.

2. accept the persons] Or, as R.V., respect the persons, shewing partiality to the rich and powerful. Strict impartiality in the administration of justice is frequently enjoined in the Law. Favouring the poor is condemned as well as favouring the rich. See Exodus 23:2-3; Exodus 23:6-8; Leviticus 19:15; Leviticus 19:35; Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:18 ff.: cp. Proverbs 18:5; Proverbs 24:23. The music strikes up to emphasise the question, and as it were give time for an answer. But the judges have no defence, and God proceeds to remind them of their duty.

2–4. God speaks, arraigning the judges for injustice and partiality, and bidding them perform their duties faithfully.Verse 2. - How long will ye judge unjustly? "The cry of the impatient Jehovah" (Cheyne); comp. Exodus 10:3; Exodus 16:28; Numbers 14:11, 27. And accept the persons of the wicked? Accepting men's persons is favouring them unduly on account of their position or outward circumstances. It was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic Law (see Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:19; Leviticus 19:15). 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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