A Scripture commonly taken out of context today is “judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1). The correct interpretation of that passage (Matthew 7:1-6) is cautioning wrong judgment, not no judgment at all. For instance, verses 3-4 instruct someone to consider the plank in their eye before rendering judgment on the speck in someone else’s. Verse 5 says, “Take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Did you catch that? It said “then” remove it from your brother’s eye, suggesting we do help others away from sin. In verse 6, we see judgment being used. How else would you know to “not give dogs what is sacred” or “do not throw your pearls to pigs” if you didn’t make a judgment? How do you know they are dogs, what is sacred, what are pearls, and what are pigs without making a judgment? The point of this passage is not to make a judgment in a wrong way, which people can do. Christians are to judge other Christians rightly. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those on the inside? God will judge those on the outside. Expel the wicked person from among you.” The point is to help restore people to the Lord, not to embarrass or point out sin as if one doesn’t have any themselves. With a humble and repentant motive and desire for people to be restored to the Lord, we must do what James 5:20 says, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
Why do I include this when writing about Psalm 82? While man can get judgments wrong, God cannot. One day He will judge the earth, and it will be right and just. We all want justice, a form of the word judge. Try using Matthew 7:1 on a judge in a courtroom and see what happens! Even the best human judge can make mistakes and allow injustice to prevail. Psalm 82 shows us that God is the ultimate judge, and He never makes a mistake. He “presides in the great assembly and renders judgment among the ‘gods’” (v. 1). This verse reminds us God judges all self-proclaimed and so-called gods and judges. God has given Jesus all authority to judge (John 5:22). He came to save but also to judge. He said, “For judgment I came into this world” (John 9:39). He will rightly judge the nations, separating the “sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). He will eventually render perfect judgment and condemn satan (John 12:31-33), reward the saved to an eternal heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10), and damn the unsaved to an eternal hell (Revelation 20:11-15). His perfect, pure, and holy character allows Him to make the right judgment every time as He is “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11).
In Psalm 82:2-5, the Righteous Judge speaks against the unrighteous judges of the earth, calling out their evil decisions (v. 2) and calling them to “defend the weak and the fearless, uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed, rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked (vv. 3-4). All human judges should take note of these verses and render their verdicts accordingly! If not, they “know nothing, understand nothing, walk around in darkness, and upset all the foundations of the earth” (v. 5). In verses 6-8, God renders ultimate judgment upon these kinds of judges. Anyone who makes a wrong judgment will have to answer to the Chief Justice of the Universe! God will judge the earth. Because He judges the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), we must turn to Jesus as the Savior who extends mercy by forgiving sins and saving the soul (John 3:16-17).
- When was the last time you rightly saw Jesus as the Righteous Judge?
- Do you trust the judgments of God?
- How do the facts about Jesus the Judge affect your judgments on this earth?
Lord, help me to be pure in my judgments. I want to extend compassion, grace, love, mercy, and kindness. I desire to help others come closer to You. Please help me to deal with my sins before I help others in theirs. Help me to see Your judgments as righteous and just. I trust the verdicts that You render. Because You will one day judge the souls of men, I persuade others with the gospel to trust in Jesus and be saved. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.
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