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Samuel Lin• Timely Word •

Arise, O God, judge the earth!

By 26 March 2022No Comments

A Psalm of Asaph.

82 God has taken his place in the divine council;
    in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the   

Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, “You are gods,
    sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
    and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
    for you shall inherit all the nations!

Asaph, a singer, musician and prophet, imagines God overseeing a council of gods who were supposed to judge the people fairly and to accord justice accordingly. 

The gods are commonly interpreted as human judges (c.f. Exo 21:6), angels (c.f. Gen 6:4, Job 1:6) or even divine beings (c.f. Deuteronomy 32:8). No matter which interpretation one holds, two things remain clear. Firstly, God has supreme authority over these beings and they answer to Him (v1). Furthermore, He has the power to pronounce judgement (v6-7). 

Secondly, God is the one who has installed these beings in their position of authority to carry out specific work (v3-4) and He is the one who will judge them accordingly (v2). 

While we do not know the specific injustices that Asaph had witnessed, verses 2-4 tells us that the marginalised were suffering because those in power had not done their jobs to judge justly.

Fast forward to today, we still see the same injustice happening around the world. The number of modern-day slaves, which includes those in forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, slavery-like practices and human trafficking, is estimated at 40 million or more, the highest number in the history of mankind. And this is just one issue out of many (e.g. political corruption, discrimination based on race or gender, etc).

So how do we respond? Like Asaph, we go to God in prayer and lament. We fast like Isaiah (Isaiah 58) and David (Psalm 35:13). We cry out and ask God to intervene. We repent if we are complicit in any way. 

As we approach Good Friday and Easter, we are reminded that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19). God has risen and has responded to the injustice of this world. When Christ returns, we can finally look forward to the reality of Revelation 21:4 where there will be “no more mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore”.

In the meantime, we continue to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection and perform the good works that God has created us for (Eph 2:10). 

Reflection Questions

  • What injustice have you witnessed in your sphere of influence? 
  • What might God’s justice look like in those situations? 

By brother Samuel Lin