Things Leaders Need to Remember

Psalm 82 - Leaders Need To Remember


There is this term you hear from time to time nowadays: “Social Justice Warrior.” If you are on Facebook or you watch Fox News, you’ll hear it. It’s usually used as a term of derision. It’s usually used as a smear. It’s a mocking term for a certain kind of leftist.

And by the way, the people who are called Social Justice Warriors or SJWs—at least many of them—are very dangerous people. Many of them are Marxists. Many of them push identity politics. Many of them are revolutionaries. Most of them want biblical Christianity to be eradicated and view us as the enemy, so I think it’s right to be wary of SJWs or or Social Justice Warriors. It’s a real thing, and they are really dangerous.

But what about the term “social justice?” Obviously, these crazy leftists love this term and this idea: Social justice. Does that mean it’s bad?

It certainly can be bad. If social justice means Marxism, then it’s bad. If social justice means identity politics, then it’s bad. It’s a term with a lot of baggage because it’s misused.

But one thing I want you to understand is that social justice is a biblical idea. It’s an abused idea. It’s an misunderstood idea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t biblical. Just because a bunch of crazy leftists use the term doesn’t mean we should throw the whole idea out and ignore it.

Biblical social justice simply means that everyone has a fair shot and gets a fair deal. It means that powerful people don’t abuse poorer people. It means that society takes care of the needs of the poor and destitute and tries to give them equal opportunity and equal hearing under the law.

Let me give you some examples:

  • There have been times in our country’s history where millions of people were enslaved based on race and treated like they were less than human. That really happened.
  • There have been times in our country’s history where we herded up Indians from their land and shipped them to the parts of the country we didn’t want and then didn’t keep our promises to them. That really happened.
  • There have been times in our country’s history where workers, usually first- or second-generation immigrant workers from Europe, were exploited and worked for fourteen hours a day in terrible conditions for almost no pay. That really happened.
  • There have been times in our country’s history where we drafted people for war and did it in such a way that poor people and non-white people made up almost all of the draftees, and rich people got an out. That really happened.

Those are cases of social injustice. Now, let me ask you two questions, and we’ll get into our text. Don’t answer out loud; just think about it.

  • First, do you think God cares about this social injustice in society?
  • Second, do you think believers should care about social injustice in society?

Turn to Psalm 82 if you aren’t there already. Let’s read this Psalm together. It’s just eight verses:

”1 [A Psalm of Asaph.] God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. 3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.” (Psa 82:1-8 KJV)

Now I don’t want to talk about social justice. Frankly, it’s not a popular subject with our crowd. It’s the kind of subject that makes people whisper, “Pastor’s some kind of closet liberal or something.”

Another reason I don’t want to talk about it is because in liberal churches, it’s talked about too much. Over vacation, I was talking to my uncle and his family, who recently switched churches. They were in a fairly conservative evangelical church, and the pastor started doing some fishy things, so they literally got in their car and joined the next church down the road, which was a United Methodist church.

Uncle Kenny was telling me that he hates this church because the pastor—a lady—only ever talks about social justice and leftist politics. Many times in our conversation I said, “Why don’t you find a better church then?” And he said, “Because the people in this church are very conservative salt-of-the-earth people,” and he doesn’t want to abandon them. So you understand that there are a lot of churches and a lot of groups where all they want to talk about is social justice. I don’t want to have anything to do with that, and I don’t want anyone to ever accuse our church of that kind of thing.

But I’m also a biblical preacher. More than anything as a pastor, I’m committed to preaching what the Bible says, even if it isn’t popular with you. And this is a chapter—one of many in the Old Testament—with a theme of social justice. The theme of this chapter is looking out for the poor, needy, downtrodden, and abused.

Look at the first two verses:

”God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly?”

What does this mean? We have to get this right or we won’t get anything right.

Obviously, we don’t believe in “little g” gods, so this verse cannot literally be talking about false gods like Zeus, Apollo, Diana, or Baal. The word “gods” here is a term that is sometimes used in the Old Testament to refer to judges and leaders.

For example, in Exodus 22, there are several times when it says, “Bring them before the judges,” and the word “judges” is the same word translated as “gods” here. In Exodus 22:28, it even says ”Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.” Yet many times in the same part of scripture, it says that if you find idols or idol worshippers, then they should be utterly destroyed.

So the word “gods” here is not referring to false gods. It’s referring to judges or leaders.

So this is a psalm for judges and leaders. If you are in a position of power, then this is a psalm for you.

Specifically, the Psalm tells judges and leaders to remember six things:

1. Remember God is watching (vv. 1)

2. Remember to reject wickedness (vv. 2)

3. Remember to justly care for the poor and destitute (vv. 3-4)

  • You should defend them.
  • You should do justice to them.
  • You should deliver them.

4. Remember that this won’t be popular (vv. 5)

5. Remember that no matter how powerful you are, you will die and meet your maker (vv. 6)

6. Remember that God is going to make everything just and fair one day. (vv. 7)