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Godlike Leadership

Psalm 82

1 God presides over heaven’s court;

he pronounces judgment on the judges:

2 “How long will you judges hand down unjust decisions?

How long will you shower special favors on the wicked?


3 “Give fair judgment to the poor and the orphan;

uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.

4 Rescue the poor and helpless;

deliver them from the grasp of evil people.

5 But these oppressors know nothing;

they are so ignorant!

And because they are in darkness,

the whole world is shaken to the core.

6 I say, ‘You are gods

and children of the Most High.

7 But in death you are mere men.

You will fall as any prince,

for all must die.’”

8 Rise up, O God, and judge the earth,

for all the nations belong to you.

In Jesus’ ongoing struggle with the religious leaders of his day, he nearly got himself stoned to death for blasphemy, claiming to be God. In his defense, Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6, in which God says to the leaders of the people, “You are gods.” It was a masterful move, refuting his enemies and getting himself off on a technicality. But there’s a powerful point in all this wordplay. Don’t miss it.

God puts leaders in a godlike position, giving them authority and allowing them to receive respect from the people. But do they use this authority in a godlike way? Do they act with justice and mercy? Do they care for the poor as God does?

The leaders of Jesus’ day did not fulfill their godlike responsibilities—they were unjust and uncaring toward the poor. By contrast, Jesus did many godlike things. “For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?” he taunted (John 10:32). According to Psalm 82, he had a right to be called God, and they had no right to be called leaders.

This takes nothing away from the true divinity of Jesus, but it does make us think about the nature of leadership. Pray for your leaders, that they would exercise their authority in godlike ways. And consider your own leadership: Are you just and merciful toward those you influence?

Fascinating Fact

A woman bowed before King Francis I of France, begging him for justice. He said to her, “I owe you justice. If you beg for anything, beg for mercy.”

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