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 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.
I say, “You are gods,
children of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, you shall die like mortals,
and fall like any prince.”
Rise up, O God, judge the earth;
for all the nations belong to you! (Psalm 82)
Kings have no divine right to their thrones. Sooner or later, the unjust ruler will suffer God’s certain wrath. The kings of all the nations around Israel were more than just arrogant and self-absorbed. They actually believed—and the people of their nations believed—that they were, in fact, incarnations of their gods. The Pharaoh of Egypt believed himself to be the incarnation of the Sun god, Ra. The king of Babylon believed himself to be the incarnation of Marduk.
In this Psalm, the one true God addresses them sarcastically, asking them that if they really are gods, then why don’t they act like it? Instead of being righteous, they are wicked. Instead of dispensing justice, they create most of the oppression and injustice that existed in their lands.
Therefore, God told them that he was going to execute judgment against them; despite what they might think about themselves, they were mere mortals and would die like anyone else. Though they might not offer justice to their people, though they might lack mercy, God would be merciful to their people and give their evil oppressors what they deserved at last.