Psalm 82:8
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for you shall inherit all nations.
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(8) Arise.—The psalm would have been incomplete had not the poet here resumed in his own person, with an appeal to the Supreme Judge to carry His decrees into effect against the oppressors of Israel. Here, at least, if not all through it, the affliction of the community, and the perversion of justice by foreign rulers, are the motives of the song. It is as if, despairing of the amendment of the corrupt magistrates, the poet, pleading for Israel, takes his case out of their hands, as Cranmer in the play takes his case out of the hands of the council, and entrusts it to the Great Judge of the world, to whom, as a special inheritance, Israel belonged, but who was also to show His claim to the submission and obedience of all nations.

Psalm 82:8. Arise, O God, judge the earth — Seeing the state of the world is so universally corrupt and desperate, and the vicegerents betray their trust, and oppress the nations of the earth, which they were appointed to preserve, do thou, therefore, O God, take the sword of justice into thine own hand, and maintain the cause and right of the oppressed against their potent oppressors, and let truth and justice be established in all parts of the earth. For thou shalt inherit all nations — For, as thou wast the Creator, so thou still art the supreme and unquestionable Lord, Possessor, and Ruler, of all nations, and therefore do thou protect and rescue thy people from all those who invade thine and their rights. This prayer will in due time be fully answered; or, rather, it is a prophecy which shall be perfectly accomplished at the proper season. A time is coming when God will bring all nations to the knowledge of himself, and to obedience to his laws; and then he will govern them by his Son, to whom he has committed all judgment, and by his Spirit, the one source of truth, justice, and mercy, and of all righteousness and peace. 82:6-8 It is hard for men to have honour put upon them, and not to be proud of it. But all the rulers of the earth shall die, and all their honour shall be laid in the dust. God governs the world. There is a righteous God to whom we may go, and on whom we may depend. This also has respect to the kingdom of the Messiah. Considering the state of affairs in the world, we have need to pray that the Lord Jesus would speedily rule over all nations, in truth, righteousness, and peace.Arise, O God, judge the earth - That is, Since there is such a failure in the administration of justice by those to whom it pertains, and who are appointed to do it in thy stead, do thou, O God, come forth thyself, and see that justice is executed among people. Do thou take the matter into thine own hands, and see that impartial justice is done everywhere among people. It pertains to thee as the great Proprietor of the earth to exercise justice; and we have nowhere else to look when men fail to do their duty.

For thou shalt inherit all nations - Or rather, All nations belong to thee as thine inheritance; that is, as thine own. The word "inherit" is used here, as it often is, merely to denote possession or proprietorship, without reference to the question how the possession is obtained. The word strictly refers to what has been received from parents, or what people are heirs to; and, in this sense, it is commonly applied to the land of Palestine, either as what was derived by the Jewish people from their ancestors the patriarchs, or as what they had received from God as a Father. Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 12:10. It is here used simply in the sense of possessing it. That is, the whole earth belonged to God, and the administration of its affairs pertained to him. As those had failed who had been appointed under him to the office of judges - as they had not been faithful to their trust - as no confidence could be reposed in them, - the psalmist calls upon God to interfere, either by appointing other magistrates; or by leading those who were in office to just views of their duty; or by his own direct judgments, punishing the wicked, and rewarding the righteous, by the interpositions of his providence. We may hence learn

(1) That there are times on earth when wickedness is so prevalent, and when there is such a want of faithfulness in civil rulers, that we have no other resource but to call upon God to interpose.

(2) that it is right to call upon Him to see that justice should be done in the earth even in the punishment of the guilty, since all the interests of society depend on the proper administration of justice.

(3) for the same reason it is right to pray that God would judge the world, and that justice may be done on the human race.

It is desirable and proper that justice should be done; hence, there is no malignity in desiring that there may be a universal judgment, and that the affairs of the universe should be placed on an equal and righteous foundation. It is possible that there may be a just and holy joy at the idea that justice is done, and that God shows himself the friend of truth, of order, and of law. Compare Psalm 58:10, note; Revelation 19:1-3, notes.

8. As rightful sovereign of earth, God is invoked personally to correct the evils of His representatives. Seeing the state of the world is so universally corrupt and desperate, and thy vicegerents betray their trust, and oppress and ruin the nations of the earth, whom they were appointed to preserve, do thou therefore, O God, take the sword of justice into thine own hand, and maintain the cause and rights of the oppressed against their potent oppressors, and let truth and justice be established in all the parts of the earth. For as thou wast the Creator, so thou still art the supreme and unquestionable Lord, and Possessor, and Ruler of all nations, and therefore do thou protect and rescue them from all those who invade thine and their rights. And although at present thou seemest in some sort to confine thy care to Israel, and to neglect other nations; yet there is a time coming when thou wilt bring all nations to the knowledge of thyself, and the obedience of thy laws, and govern them by thy Son and Spirit, which thou wilt send into the world for that purpose. Do thou therefore preserve them in the mean time till that blessed day cometh, and hasten the coming of it. Arise, O God,.... These are the words of the prophet, or of the church, whom he represents, addressing Christ, who is God over all; that seeing there was such a corruption and degeneracy in the world, and such wretched perversion of justice, that he would arise and exert himself, and show himself strong on the behalf of his people:

judge the earth: who is the Judge of the whole earth, to whom all judgment is committed, and who will judge the world in righteousness:

for thou shalt inherit all nations; which he will do in the latter day, when he shall be King over all the earth, and the Heathen shall be given him for his inheritance, he being heir of all things; and universal justice will not take place in the world till that time comes; and therefore it is to be wished and prayed for, as by the prophet and church here.

Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit {f} all nations.

(f) Therefore no tyrant will pluck your right and authority from you.

8. The Psalmist has watched the trial and condemnation of Israel’s judges; and the sight stirs him to appeal to God Himself to assume the office of Judge not only for Israel but for all the world. If Israel’s judges have failed so lamentably in their duty towards their own countrymen, how can Israel rule the world, though all the nations have been promised to its kings for their inheritance (Psalm 2:8)? Nay, God Himself—Thou is emphatic—must take possession of all the nations as their Sovereign and their Judge.Verse 8. - Arise, O God, judge the earth. The words of God (vers. 2-7) being ended, the psalmist calls upon him to proceed at once to judgment; but he does not limit the judgment to Israel's unjust judges. God is asked to "arise" and "judge the earth," i.e. the whole world (comp. Psalm 7:7, 8; Psalm 56:7; Psalm 59:5). For thou shalt inherit; or, "for thou dost inherit." "God is the King of all the earth" (Psalm 47:2), not of Israel only. All nations - the whole world - must be regarded as his possession or "inheritance."

God comes forward and makes Himself heard first of all as censuring and admonishing. The "congregation of God" is, as in Numbers 27:17; Numbers 31:16; Joshua 22:16., "the congregation of (the sons of) Israel," which God has purchased from among the nations (Psalm 74:2), and upon which as its Lawgiver He has set His divine impress. The psalmist and seer sees Elohim standing in this congregation of God. The part. Niph. (as in Isaiah 3:13) denotes not so much the suddenness and unpreparedness, as, rather, the statue-like immobility and terrifying designfulness of His appearance. Within the range of the congregation of God this holds good of the elohim. The right over life and death, with which the administration of justice cannot dispense, is a prerogative of God. From the time of Genesis 9:6, however, He has transferred the execution of this prerogative to mankind, and instituted in mankind an office wielding the sword of justice, which also exists in His theocratic congregation, but here has His positive law as the basis of its continuance and as the rule of its action. Everywhere among men, but here pre-eminently, those in authority are God's delegates and the bearers of His image, and therefore as His representatives are also themselves called elohim, "gods" (which the lxx in Exodus 21:6 renders τὸ κριτήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ, and the Targums here, as in Exodus 22:7-8, Exodus 22:27 uniformly, דּיּניּא). The God who has conferred this exercise of power upon these subordinate elohim, without their resigning it of themselves, now sits in judgment in their midst. ישׁפּט of that which takes place before the mind's eye of the psalmist. How long, He asks, will ye judge unjustly? שׁפט עול is equivalent to עשׂה עול בּמּשׁפּט, Leviticus 19:15, Leviticus 19:35 (the opposite is שׁפט מישׁרים, Psalm 58:2). How long will ye accept the countenance of the wicked, i.e., incline to accept, regard, favour the person of the wicked? The music, which here becomes forte, gives intensity to the terrible sternness (das Niederdonnernde) of the divine question, which seeks to bring the "gods" of the earth to their right mind. Then follow admonitions to do that which they have hitherto left undone. They are to cause the benefit of the administration of justice to tend to the advantage of the defenceless, of the destitute, and of the helpless, upon whom God the Lawgiver especially keeps His eye. The word רשׁ (ראשׁ), of which there is no evidence until within the time of David and Solomon, is synonymous with אביון. דל with ויתום is pointed דל, and with ואביון, on account of the closer notional union, דל (as in Psalm 72:13). They are words which are frequently repeated in the prophets, foremost in Isaiah (Isaiah 1:17), with which is enjoined upon those invested with the dignity of the law, and with jurisdiction, justice towards those who cannot and will not themselves obtain their rights by violence.
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