The 2001 Commentaries

Who are the ‘Gods’ at Psalm 82:1?

info All commentaries are written by volunteers, readers, or supporters of our Bible translation project. These are not official views of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.

At Psalm 82:1 we read:

‘God stands in the gathering of gods,
And among them, He is passing judgment.
So, how long will You judge their injustice
And put up with the presence of sinners?’

This verse – in fact, all of Psalm 82 – is usually not (or is only vaguely) properly understood.
Who are the ‘gods’ that God meets with and examines?
Psalm 82:6 tells us:

‘I said to them, You are gods…
You are sons of the Most High!
But like men, you will perish also,
And like their rulers, you’ll fall.

So from the context, we can see that these words were being spoken to individuals that were created directly by God… God’s sons (not ‘sons of men’). Therefore, it seems clear that God was speaking to spirit creatures (His messengers or ‘angels’), some of whom are now referred to as ‘the demons’ (spirits that have received God’s adverse judgment).

Notice that Jesus quoted this scripture at John 10:34-36, when he said:

‘Isn’t it written in your Law, I say that you are gods?
So if He called those that were spoken against in God’s Word, gods (and you can’t void the Scriptures); How can you tell me (one that was made holy and sent into the world by the Father) that I am blaspheming because I say that I am God’s Son?’

Yet from these words of Jesus, many have assumed that Psalm 82:6 was really speaking of humans and referring to them as gods, not God’s spirit sons.
But notice that Jesus wasn’t calling his listeners gods;
Rather, he was saying that those with whom God had met and whom He had examined (as mentioned in the Psalms) were the ones that were called gods. Also notice that they live in ‘darkness’ (Tartarus), since we read at Psalm 82:5:
‘For they don’t know, nor do they perceive,
Because they travel in darkness,
That the foundations of the earth will be shaken.’

Is there any record in the Bible that tells of God meeting with a ‘gathering of gods’ (his spirit sons) in the heavens?
Yes, we read of one such meeting at which even the evil one was present.
For at Job 1:6 we were told this:
‘Then one day, {Look!} the messengers of God went to stand before Jehovah, and the Opposer came along with them.
So Jehovah asked the Opposer:
From what place have you come?

Therefore it seems clear, after considering the context, that this psalm of Asaph is referring to God’s spirit sons as gods (those that are more powerful than humans). And he was telling the evil ones among them that because they had been dealing with mankind unjustly, they (like humans and their corrupt rulers) would also pass away when the ‘the foundations of the earth’ are ‘shaken.’

Notice that this in no way diminishes the meaning of what Jesus was saying to the people about whether he had the right to say that he was God’s son. For if even the wicked and rebellious spirit sons of God could be called ‘gods,’ then he wasn’t blaspheming or being presumptuous when he told them that he was God’s son.

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