Psalm 82:3
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
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(3) Poor.—Rather, miserable. (See Psalm 41:1.) This verse recalls the solemn curse in Deuteronomy 27:19.

Psalm 82:3-4. Defend the poor and fatherless — As far as justly you may: for so this clause must be limited, as appears by comparing it with Leviticus 19:15. Do justice to the afflicted and needy — Hebrew, הצדיקו, hatzdiku, justify him, namely, when his cause is good, and he is oppressed by a potent adversary. Deliver the poor and needy — These he recommends to the special care and protection of magistrates, because such are commonly neglected and crushed by men in higher place and power, and are unable to relieve or right themselves.

82:1-5 Magistrates are the mighty in authority for the public good. Magistrates are the ministers of God's providence, for keeping up order and peace, and particularly in punishing evil-doers, and protecting those that do well. Good princes and good judges, who mean well, are under Divine direction; and bad ones, who mean ill, are under Divine restraint. The authority of God is to be submitted to, in those governors whom his providence places over us. But when justice is turned from what is right, no good can be expected. The evil actions of public persons are public mischiefs.Defend the poor and fatherless - literally, judge; that is, Pronounce just judgment; see that right is done to them. This is required everywhere in the Scriptures. The meaning is not that judgment is to be pronounced in their favor because they are poor, or because they are orphans, for this would be to do what they had just been charged with as in itself wrong, accepting of persons; that is, showing favor on account of condition or rank, rather than on account of a just claim. The idea is, that the poor and the fatherless, having no natural protectors, were likely to be wronged or oppressed; that they had none to defend their claims; and that magistrates, therefore, as if they were their natural protectors, should see that their rights were maintained. See the notes at Isaiah 1:17.

Do justice to the afflicted and needy - See that justice is done them; that they are not wronged by persons of wealth, of power, and of rank. Such care does religion take of those who have no natural guardians. The poor and the needy - the widow and the fatherless - owe to the religion of the Bible a debt which no language can express.

3, 4. So must good judges act (Ps 10:14; Job 29:12). Defend the poor and fatherless; so far as justly you may; as this clause must be limited, by comparing this with Leviticus 19:15.

Do justice to, Heb. justify, to wit, when his cause is just, and he is oppressed by a potent adversary.

Defend the poor and fatherless,.... Or, judge (d) them; such as have no money to enter and carry on a suit, and have no friends to assist and advise them, and abide by them; these should be taken under the care and wing of judges; their cause should be attended to, and justice done them; their persons should be protected, and their property defended and secured for, since they are called gods, they ought to imitate him whose name they bear, who is the Father of the fatherless, the Judge of the widows, and the helper of the poor that commit themselves to him, Psalm 10:14, such a righteous judge and good magistrate was Job; see Job 29:12,

do justice to the afflicted and needy; or "justify" (e) them, pronounce them righteous, give the cause for them, not right or wrong, nor because they are poor and needy, but because they are in the right; for, if wicked, they are not to be justified, this is an abomination to the Lord; see Leviticus 19:15.

(d) "judicate", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (e) "justificate", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Cocceius, &c.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
3. Judge the weak and fatherless:

Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

Verse 3. - Defend the poor and fatherless; literally, judge them. "Do not deny them justice; do not refuse to hear their cause" (comp. Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 5:28). Do justice to the afflicted and needy. After consenting to hear their cause, be sure thou doest them justice. These commands are covert reproaches. Psalm 82:3God comes forward and makes Himself heard first of all as censuring and admonishing. The "congregation of God" is, as in Numbers 27:17; Numbers 31:16; Joshua 22:16., "the congregation of (the sons of) Israel," which God has purchased from among the nations (Psalm 74:2), and upon which as its Lawgiver He has set His divine impress. The psalmist and seer sees Elohim standing in this congregation of God. The part. Niph. (as in Isaiah 3:13) denotes not so much the suddenness and unpreparedness, as, rather, the statue-like immobility and terrifying designfulness of His appearance. Within the range of the congregation of God this holds good of the elohim. The right over life and death, with which the administration of justice cannot dispense, is a prerogative of God. From the time of Genesis 9:6, however, He has transferred the execution of this prerogative to mankind, and instituted in mankind an office wielding the sword of justice, which also exists in His theocratic congregation, but here has His positive law as the basis of its continuance and as the rule of its action. Everywhere among men, but here pre-eminently, those in authority are God's delegates and the bearers of His image, and therefore as His representatives are also themselves called elohim, "gods" (which the lxx in Exodus 21:6 renders τὸ κριτήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ, and the Targums here, as in Exodus 22:7-8, Exodus 22:27 uniformly, דּיּניּא). The God who has conferred this exercise of power upon these subordinate elohim, without their resigning it of themselves, now sits in judgment in their midst. ישׁפּט of that which takes place before the mind's eye of the psalmist. How long, He asks, will ye judge unjustly? שׁפט עול is equivalent to עשׂה עול בּמּשׁפּט, Leviticus 19:15, Leviticus 19:35 (the opposite is שׁפט מישׁרים, Psalm 58:2). How long will ye accept the countenance of the wicked, i.e., incline to accept, regard, favour the person of the wicked? The music, which here becomes forte, gives intensity to the terrible sternness (das Niederdonnernde) of the divine question, which seeks to bring the "gods" of the earth to their right mind. Then follow admonitions to do that which they have hitherto left undone. They are to cause the benefit of the administration of justice to tend to the advantage of the defenceless, of the destitute, and of the helpless, upon whom God the Lawgiver especially keeps His eye. The word רשׁ (ראשׁ), of which there is no evidence until within the time of David and Solomon, is synonymous with אביון. דל with ויתום is pointed דל, and with ואביון, on account of the closer notional union, דל (as in Psalm 72:13). They are words which are frequently repeated in the prophets, foremost in Isaiah (Isaiah 1:17), with which is enjoined upon those invested with the dignity of the law, and with jurisdiction, justice towards those who cannot and will not themselves obtain their rights by violence.
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