Day 10 Devotional & Discussion – March 15, 2014

Psalm 82 – New International Version and The Message Paraphrase

In this Psalm (as paraphrased in The Message), God calls judges into God’s courtroom and calls them on the carpet.  What are the charges that God brings against the judges?  What is the consequences of their failure?  What does God propose to do to the unjust judges?

What charges do you think God would bring against those in charge of our justice system?  In what ways are our systems of “law and order” resulting in “disorder” where “the world is coming unglued”?  What can you and your faith community do to hold judges accountable?

The final prayer of Psalm 82 is “Rise up, O God, judge the earth” (NIV)  How does the image of God presiding as the Supreme Court justice over the court system make you feel?  Is this hopeful?  Why?

There is no devotional for Sunday, March 16, 2014

4 comments

  1. On March 13, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the US Sentencing Commission advocating for changes to mandatory sentencing laws for low level drug offenses. The commission will vote on the recommendations in April. Read more about the proposed changes at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/holder-will-call-for-reduced-sentences-for-low-level-drug-offenders/2014/03/12/625ed9e6-aa12-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=iosapp

    Also, one of our compact participants submitted a link about racial disparities in for-profit prisons. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/03/13/289000532/why-for-profit-prisons-house-more-inmates-of-color?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=iosapp

  2. I gotta give a hand to Asaph for writing a courageous song that exposes what is happening in the courts of his day and how God’s intentions for the justice system are being subverted by unjust judges. It makes me think about Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” about lynchings (though it doesn’t directly confront the issue of unjust judges). Nina Simone also penned a lot of songs in the 1960s about economic injustice. Anyone know of songwriters today that are writing songs about our courts and the perversion of justice?

    1. REM can get political. I’m not sure about their recent albums, but they had at least one song during the Bush years that was confrontational. And of course my all-time favs, U2, talk about injustice around the world.

  3. I wonder what specific situation motivated Asaph to write Psalm 82? My speculation is that it is about a situation going on in right before his eyes. Particularly he refers to “gods” in verses 1 and 6, and compares them to “rulers” in verse 6. Because the psalm depicts God judging these “gods” for their defense of the unjust, their partiality to the wicked, and God’s admonition to them to begin defending the cause of the oppressed, at the very least this seems to be about people in positions of power who were abusing that power. I wonder if this was about real rulers he was in contact with? There were plenty of examples we could point to from the list of Israel & Judah’s kings.

    The consequences are severe. In verse 5 they know nothing, and in verse 6 they will die.

    There is a sense in which this verse is hopeful in the long run. God will deal with them at his appointed time. But we live in the here and now, and while I believe that God can supernaturally intervene in the here and now, I think he wants us, his church, to act. We are to be his hands and feet and mouth in the here and now. Asaph, by writing this psalm, is a good example. Amazing to think that this was a song that would have been sung in public worship. I suppose it still is in some places/churches. Wouldn’t it be wild if Asaph wrote the song about a ruler, and then introduced the song in worship, while that ruler was present! Far-fetched, but it’s fun to think about. What can I or my faith community do to hold judges accountable? I have no idea. Write like Asaph did, perhaps. The pen is mightier than the sword. Write letters to the editor. Find out if there is a judicial accountability system. I admit that this is one of those areas where I am very tempted to think “Well, surely someone is holding judges accountable, so I don’t need to worry about it.” And I let myself off the hook. But I have a few ideas. I have a couple friends who have connections with our County’s judges. I’ll ask them what they think about this.

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