Psalm 82 is a short poem but absolutely filled with great theological points.
It begins with the affirmation that God presides over everything – including the “gods.” Israel was a monotheistic nation in a polytheistic culture. She found it hard to divorce herself from the culture around her and so, admitting the beliefs of the readers in other deities, the psalmist simply says: God is God over all gods.
The second point is the ethics of this sovereign God: The Great Presider calls people to be active in relieving the suffering of the disadvantaged. Those who do not, live their lives in darkness because they really don’t understand what makes God tick.
The psalm is addressed to God’s people, whom God calls “gods” because they are his children, “sons of the Most High” (Jesus affirms this interpretation in John 10:34). But they are the black sheep of the family because their lives do not demonstrate their Father’s concern for the helpless. The point is, then and now, that God’s children had better adopt and live the value system of their heavenly father.
All this brings us to the last verse which, in and of itself, is full of significance.
First, God is the judge of all the earth. It will do no good to adopt the gods of other nations, because God is not only the Great Presider over all gods, but the judge of all the earth. But second, there is this line: “the nations are your inheritance.” Israel is elsewhere called God’s inheritance, but here, all nations are his inheritance. With one line, the Psalmist affirms the value of all people in the eyes of God. Israel may be exalted above all, but she must never think other people are nothing to the Lord.
As Christians, we should remember that we are God’s people. But God longs for all mankind to enter His family.