Psalm 82:3

Hebrew Bible

1 A psalm of Asaph. God stands in the assembly of El; in the midst of the gods he renders judgment. 2 He says, “How long will you make unjust legal decisions and show favoritism to the wicked? (Selah) 3 Defend the cause of the poor and the fatherless. Vindicate the oppressed and suffering. 4 Rescue the poor and needy. Deliver them from the power of the wicked. 5 They neither know nor understand. They stumble around in the dark, while all the foundations of the earth crumble.

Isaiah 1:17

Hebrew Bible

15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen because your hands are covered with blood. 16 Wash! Cleanse yourselves! Remove your sinful deeds from my sight. Stop sinning. 17 Learn to do what is right. Promote justice. Give the oppressed reason to celebrate. Take up the cause of the orphan. Defend the rights of the widow. 18 “Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool. 19 If you have a willing attitude and obey, then you will again eat the good crops of the land.

 Notes and References

"... God is, in our text, 'standing up in council'; why is he not 'sitting,' as befits the leader of the divine assembly? Most likely, the term 'stand up' already suggests juridical action against the culprits (compare verse 8: 'rise up, God'; likewise in some psalms, e.g., 44:24-27). The divine council is a well-known institution in Ugaritic mythology. There, e.g., Baal stands up to give rousing speeches against his enemies (compare ANET, 130, 132 = Baal III, 10-13). The body of the psalm is taken up by direct address aimed at the 'gods' responsible for corrupted justice. The tenu špt pervades the whole psalm, from the first to the last line. The accusation ('how long?') happens because of chronic misjudgment in favor of the 'wicked' ones (verse 2b). This crime is demonstrated more clearly in a command to do justice (four imperatives in cross-position), which really implies only censure (verses 3-4). Surprisingly, we find the 'poor' and 'weak,' the social outcasts, in opposition to the 'wicked.' Unless the marginalized understand themselves in this psalm as the only legitimate community (Psalm 37), we have to explain this crucial juxtaposition. At this point we note a strong affinity of this censure with sapiential and D social ethos (compare 'lowly'; 'poor': Proverbs 10:15; 13:8, 23; 14:20, 31; 19:1, 7, 22; 21:13; 22:9; 'orphan'; 'miserable, poor': Deuteronomy 10:18; 15:4, 7, 9, 11; 16:11, 14; 24:12, 14, 15; 27:19; etc.). A very similar command to do what is right within an accusation is Isaiah 1:17 ..."

Gerstenberger, Erhard Psalms. Part 2, and Lamentations (pp. 113-114) Eerdmans, 2001

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