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A psalm for Asaph. God hath stood in the congregation of gods: and being in the midst of them he judgeth gods.

PSALM LXXXI.  (DEUS STETIT.)

An exhortation to judges and men in power.


Ver. 1.  Asaph.  Josaphat gave the like instructions to his judges, 2 Par. xix. 6.  Kimchi.  C.

 

--- God rejected the Jews in the preceding psalm, and here the reason is assigned.  Theodoret.

 

--- Congregation, or church of the Jews, who were gathered together like cattle, and sought after temporal advantages (S. Aug. in Ps. lxxii. 23.) alone.  Catec.  Trid.  Symb.

 

--- This is not exactly true of all, (Heb. xi. 14.) though it might be of the people in general, who seldom raised their thoughts to spiritual delights.  H.

 

--- Of gods.  Heb. "of God," who presides in his own council, and gives authority to others.  Amama.

 

--- Yet Syr. has, "the angels;" Chal. "the just;" Prot. "the mighty;" and Aquila, "the powerful ones."  H.

 

--- Gods here are put for judges, who act in God's name.  Deut. i. 17.  Ex. xxii. 28.  To decide affairs of consequence, the priests and other judges met in the temple; and the Romans did the like, each senator offering incense and wine to the god who was honoured in that place.  Suet. in Aug. xxxv.  C.

 

--- All magistrates ought to be equally careful in what they determine, as if they heard God present giving them the following instructions.  W.

 

--- Judgeth gods, or "God, our Saviour, is judged."  Houbig.

 

--- This bringeth on the reprobation of the Jews, v. 5. &c.  Bert.


2 How long will you judge unjustly: and accept the persons of the wicked?

Ver. 2.  Wicked.  Contrary to the law.  Deut. i. 17.  Lev. xix. 15.


3 Judge for the needy and fatherless: do justice to the humble and the poor.

Ver. 3.  Do justice.  This is the sense of justificate, "justify," as the poor must not be screened from justice, any more than the rich.  H.

 

--- They are in greater danger of being neglected.  Is. i. 23.  Jer. v. 28.  H.


4 Rescue the poor; and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner.

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5 They have not known nor understood: they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth shall be moved.

Ver. 5.  Moved.  The ignorance, inapplication, and injustice of those in power overturn the state, which is supported by justice.  Prov. xiv. 34.  They draw down God's curse upon the land, (S. Jer.  C.) and expose it to all the miseries of anarchy.  This regards pastors also.  Bert.

 

--- By gross ignorance judges walk in darkness, and throw all into confusion.


6 I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High.

Ver. 6.  Gods.  The people look upon you as such, and treat you with respect.  But entertain not sentiments of pride on that account.  C.

 

--- If judges, even those whom God condemns, may be styled gods without blasphemy, how much more might Jesus Christ, who was holy and did the works of God?  He uses this argument to make the fury of the people abate: but then he continues to prove that he was God in a very different and proper sense, insomuch that the Jews, clearly perceiving his meaning, which Socinians would now mistake, took up stones to throw at him.  Jo. x. 34.  H.

 

--- If he had not been God, He would surely have told them plainly, as S. Paul did when people would have offered sacrifice to him, and as S. John Baptist confessed that he was not the Christ.  The sons of Seth, priests, the just, and all the Israelites, were styled sons of God, as well as the angels and judges.  Gen. vi. 2.  Ps. xxviii. 1.  Wisd. v. 5.  Job i. 6.  But no individual is called the Son, except Jesus Christ the true God.  Bert.

 

--- This passage may be understood of all the faithful, (S. Aug.) particularly of bishops: and Constantine the Great was hence deterred from judging them (S. Greg. i. dec. Grat. p. 2. c. 11. q. 1.) or the clergy; (S. Melchiades. c. 12. q. 1.) though this name seems inaccurate, as the died before (Glossa) the council of Nice.  Amama restrains the text to men in power.  H.

 

--- Their elevated station make their ignorance and misconduct less excusable.  M.



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7 But you like men shall die: and shall fall like one of the princes.

Ver. 7.  Men.  Heb. Adam, or "like a man" (Mont.  H.) of the meanest rank.

 

--- Princes.  Among men, (C.) or like Lucifer, the first of the rebel angels.  Euseb.  S. Just. dial.

 

--- Most tyrants come to a miserable end.  M.

 

--- At death, judges themselves are brought to the bar, and their case is then more terrible, as the mighty in guilt shall suffer more.  Wisd. vi.  W.

 

--- They are forced to taste od death; while Jesus Christ was master of it.  Jo. x. 17. 28.  This comparison evinces Christ's divinity.  But Socinians blind themselves by looking at the sun, and attempting to fathom all by the weak light of reason.  Bert.


8 Arise, O God, judge thou the earth: for thou shalt inherit among all the nations.

Ver. 8.  Nations.  Those whom thou hast appointed judges, prevaricate.  Gen. xviii. 25.  C.

 

--- Come, therefore, thyself, Lord Jesus, (Apoc. xxii. 20.) to whom all nations were promised for an inheritance.  Bert.  Ps. ii. 7.

 

--- His appearance at the last day is described in the 49th psalm; and most of the Fathers here discover a clear prediction of the conversion of the Gentiles.  C.


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