1. God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgement among the gods:
2. “How long will you defend the defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
3. Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor
4. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5. They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
6. “I said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.’
7. But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”
8. Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.
Reflection by Darlene Wagner
This psalm reveals how the ancient Hebrews were not strictly monotheistic in the modern sense. Unlike modern, dogmatic monotheistic faiths, which insist that only one God exists, the ancient Hebrews believed in One Righteous God among many gods. Belief in the existence of many gods and goddesses seemed acceptable among the Hebrews, provided they kept their covenant to worship only the Righteous God.
I’m afraid I might step on some theological toes, but there is much wisdom a modern Christian can learn from Psalm 82. Verses 2 and 5 explain the existence of evil in this world — injustice was attributed to the many gods of hostile nations. The ancient Hebrew commitment to a Righteous God among many gods was key to caring for the weak, the fatherless, the poor, and the oppressed. By contrast, the strict monotheism of European Christians played a role in the depopulation of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans. Dogmatic monotheists too often focus upon tearing down the gods of other faiths, committing genocide in the process. I count myself blessed that the people of Pilgrimage reject such heavy-handed expressions of faith. Rather, Pilgrimage people seem to worship the Righteous God by commitment to kindness, hospitality, and social justice.
Dear Merciful Righteous One,
How wonderful are your works:
Diversity of nations, tribes, and faiths.
How beautiful are your children:
Of languages, of colors, and of ways to love!
Likewise, through many diverse prayers,
names, faces, and faiths, we seek you.