Ruling and teaching with integrity

It is the responsibility of God’s people to rule with the highest integrity.

It is the responsibility of God’s people to rule with the highest integrity.

Psalm 82:2-5: ““How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”

When we review the denunciation of these leaders by Yahweh, we can gain some understanding about how he desires his people in roles of leadership to honor him.

For example, we can see that Yahweh desires fairness and justice without showing partiality to those who may benefit unequally from favored rulings. Additionally, those who are weak and in need typically require assistance in overcoming the oppression of the wicked.

What I find interesting also is the way that the stability of the society being described hinges on the measure of justice being provided. When there is no justice, it’s as if the foundations of the earth are shaken. The societal balance is undermined, and chaos then rules.

There are many different opinions about whom this psalm is speaking. Is it human judges, or heavenly rulers of some sort?

Psalm 82:1 – God stands in the divine assembly; he pronounces judgment among the gods:

The word that is translated as gods, depending on the context, can also mean mighty rulers. In that ancient society, it was not uncommon to view the rulers as being held to a higher standard. This is also where rulership of nations became intertwined with the worship of divine rulers. This would ultimately lead to world leaders being viewed as divine.

As far as this psalm is concerned and who this chastising is being directed to, I believe the answer can be found in the response of Yahweh to these individuals when he says:

Psalm 82:6-7: “I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”

To me this intimates that Yahweh was mocking their elevated status of themselves and reminding them that they were mortal and would die and be accountable for all of their actions and deeds.

To corroborate this view, Yeshua himself challenges the rulers and teachers of his day by quoting this very passage in denouncing their rejection of his authority.

John 10:34-36: “Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”

Yeshua says that the ones “to whom the word of God came” were looked upon as “gods.” He leverages this passage as a way of substantiating his own rightful position as the Son of God, because he really was carrying the true Word of God. This type of logic would have been a crushing argument against those religious leaders and their thinking.

Regardless of how one views the subjects of this psalm, what remains are principles that can still be applied within the integrity of believers who have any measure of authority in this life. We can see how it is God’s view that it is the responsibility of believers to rule with the highest integrity and fairness so that they may represent the God whom they serve with honor and dignity. They must be mindful of their own mortality and recognize their duty to be fair in all of their conduct and teaching, as they will be even more accountable because of the weight of their responsibility.

James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers [that is, one who is fitted to teach, or thinks himself so], my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.

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