Read Ps. 82:1-8. What is the message here to us?
Despite the ordering and rules of society that God gave to them, at various times in their history the Israelite nation failed to live up to this plan. They too easily became like the nations around them, living by a pattern of injustice and oppression.
Leaders and judges looked after only themselves, and their favor could be purchased with bribes. Without courts to protect them, ordinary people, and the poor especially, were subject to exploitation.
Psalm 82 is a response to such a situation. It describes God’s role as Supreme Judge, and it depicts a scene in which He judges the leaders and even the judges of the people. This psalm emphasizes that those who fill such roles in society “are appointed to act as judges under Him”. – Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 198. They hold their position and conduct their work as representatives and subordinates of God. In the psalmist’s view, the justice of God is a model for how earthly justice should function, and it also provides the measure against which such justice or injustice—and those who dispense it—will be judged.
The psalm concludes with a specific call for God to act (Ps. 82:8), to intervene and to stop the injustice that is so prevalent in the nation. Like many of the psalms, this one gives a voice to the voiceless and to the oppressed, those whose voices have been silenced by the unjust systems in which they live and work.
Psalm 82 makes an appeal to God in His position of Supreme Judge and Sovereign Ruler of the universe and of all the nations. There is no higher court or authority to which such an appeal could be made. The assurance comes that when earthly courts do not hear or uphold the cries of the poor and oppressed, which is so often the case here, there is still an undeniable opportunity to call for help.
At different times in our lives we might find ourselves as victims of injustice, but at other times we might be the one committing or profiting from injustice. In passages such as Psalm 82, we can find insight and wisdom, whether we are the oppressed or the oppressor. God is concerned for the unjust judges, too, describing them as His children and wanting them to choose to live better (see Ps. 82:6). Thus, there’s hope even for those on the wrong side of oppression, if they will allow themselves to be changed.