1 [A song of Asaph[note a]] GOD stands in the congregation of GOD; He judgeth among the gods [mighty].
2 How long will you judge unjustly and favor the wicked forever?
3 Judge the poor and orphan; justify the humble and the impoverished.
4 Release the poor and the needy; save [them] from the hands of [the] wicked.
5 They did not know and they do not understand [that] they will walk in darkness; all the foundations of the earth will totter.
6 I said, “You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.” 7 But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O GOD, judge the Earth, for all the nations are Your inheritance [note b].
[note a] Asaph (Hebrew: אָסָף ) was the great singer and musician of the era of David and Solomon (1Chronicles 15, 17-19 ; 16, 5-7 ; 16, 17 and 2Chronicles 25, 6 ; 29, 13). 1Chronicles 25, 1 and 2Chronicles 29, 30 add that Asaph was a prophet in his musical compositions.
[note b] The Covenant of GOD is now “open” to all nations that want to voluntarily follow GOD’s precepts because they are aware of the earthly good it brings to them and their community.
GOD invites us to imitate the CREATOR in Holiness.
Only by seeking Love and justice will it enable men and women who inhabit the land, to become “Gods” and “Sons of the Most High”.
The Master Jesus bases his doctrine on this Biblical passage, as reported in Jn 10, 34-38 rejects the accusations of blasphemy, to elevate all believers to the position of legitimate children of GOD. A declaration of equality and of union too inconvenient for the power of the priestly castes that led him to the death sentence.
(V. 1) Judge among the Gods: this position of GOD in the midst of these powerful is to examine and arbitrate between them. The word “Gods” here is “Elohim”, which is the plural for the generic word for God in Hebrew. The idea of GOD judging the Gods has led over time to divergent suggestions about the identity of these “Elohim” (these Gods).
Elohim is often used to describe the true GOD, the LORD. And it is in the plural to describe (in the original Semitic language) His majesty (plural maiestatis).
But Elohim is sometimes also used as a plural of pagan deities, or the “false gods of the nations”, or in reference to angelic beings.
But exactly in this Psalm, if one reads in full, “Elohim” is clearly referred to human judges, who “take” the place of GOD in their ability to determine the destiny of others (those who are judges for the people of believers) those who govern them, or who should govern them rightly). Around the Most High there is an assembly of earthly judges who are called elohim, because they are His delegates and administer His Will. Judges and magistrates must be (according to the Law) compared to GOD, because they exercise something of His Power in the right order of human society, and at the same time limit their authority because they are directly responsible to Him.
(V. 6) You are Gods: these human judges should be in the place of the Gods and above other people, having the opportunity and authority to change the lives of people with a word or sometimes even end a life.
Jesus quoted this passage (John 10, 34-39) in a debate with religious leaders when they accused him of claiming to be “God on earth” in a sinful and wrong way. Jesus questioned the leaders of the Jews at the time asking why, if GOD has given to these unjust judges the title of Gods because of their office, they should consider blasphemous who defines himself “son of GOD” in the light of the truthful testimony that he spreads and of his own good works? (Exodus 21, 6 and 22, 8-9 are two other passages in which GOD calls God the earthly judges).
In this Psalm GOD has reminded all humanity that to be considered as children of the Most High, it is enough to do good and work according to the Law, seeking love (for GOD, the Creation and their neighbor). This happens because every human being is made in the image and likeness of GOD and considered progeny of the CREATOR (Acts 17, 28-29).
But when these unjust judges denied protection and justice to the poor, orphans, the afflicted and the needy, they essentially treated them as less than humans completely made in the image of GOD and this “judges” must always keep it in mind, because the unjust person never remains unpunished.
(V. 7) You will die like mere mortals: this is the real difference between GOD and the earthly Gods (“Elohim”), in order to keep them humble during their work. Even if in priviledge position on earth, the just will have to remember that they could be like Gods, only if they behave righteously, and only until the Judgment Day when the Only true Judge will proclame Its sentence.
“Ye shall wax old like others, then ye shall fall sick like others, then ye shall die like others, then ye shall be buried like others, then ye shall be consumed like others, then ye shall be judged like others, even like the beggars which cry at your gates.”
(Smith, cited in Spurgeon)