Thought from Today’s Old Testament Passage:
God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the “gods.” Psa. 82:1
We are surprised to find a biblical text appearing to acknowledge the tacit existence of gods rivaling Yahweh. The singer Asaph beholds Elohim presiding over a great congregation and rendering judgments before what the text innocently refers to as “gods.” Does this perhaps unexpurgated passage confirm polytheism?
Before us is a courtroom. The matter before the court is the ever-present, nettlesome problem of the wicked and the injustices which seem to sweep along in their path.
In addressing the “gods” (in Hebrew, elohim), God is not acknowledging pagan deities or recognizing the existence of other supernatural beings like himself; rather, he is addressing the earthly judges and administrators of his law whom he has set up to represent him. Our Lord depends on these administrators, functioning as magistrates in the divinely ordained state, to bring a measure of immediate relief from the injustices and brutalities of life.
The usage of the Hebrew word elohim is not as unusual as it might appear at first. Other passages refer to this class of Israelite rulers and judges as God’s representatives on earth (cf. Ex. 21:6; Ex. 22:8; Psa. 138:1).
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downer’s Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), pp. 166-167.