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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 82:5

 

 

They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken.

Adam Clarke Commentary

They know not - The judges are not acquainted with the law of God, on which all their decisions should be founded.

Neither will they understand - They are ignorant and do not wish to be instructed. They will not learn; they cannot teach. Happy England! How different from Judea, even in the days of Jehoshaphat! All thy judges are learned, righteous, and impartial. Never did greater men in their profession dignify any land or country - (1822).

All the foundations of the earth - "All the civil institutions of the land totter." Justice is at the head of all the institutions in a well regulated state: when that gets poisoned or perverted, every evil, political and domestic, must prevail; even religion itself ceases to have any influence.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-82.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They know not, neither will they understand - This is designed still further to characterize the magistrates at the time referred to in the psalm. They not merely judged unjustly, and were not merely partial in the administration of justice Psalm 82:2, but they did not desire to understand their duty, and the true principles on which justice should be administered. They were at no pains to inform themselves, either in regard to those principles, or in regard to the facts in particular cases. All just judgment must be based

(a) on a true knowledge of what the law is, or what is right; and

(b) on a knowledge of the facts in a particular case. Where there is no such knowledge, of course there must be a mal-administration of justice.

One of the first requisites, therefore, in a magistrate is, that he shall have a proper knowledge of the law; his duty is to ascertain the exact facts in each individual case that comes before him, and then impartially to apply the law to that case.

They walk on in darkness - In ignorance of the law and of the facts in the case.

All the foundations of the earth - See Psalm 11:3, note; Psalm 75:3, note. All settled principles; all the things on which the welfare of society rests; all on which the prosperity of the world depends. The manner in which justice is administered is as if the very foundations of the earth should be disturbed, and the world should move without order.

Are out of course - Margin, as in Hebrew, moved. That is, they are moved from their proper place; the earth no longer rests firmly and safely on its foundation. This language is taken from the idea so often occurring in the Scriptures, and in the language of people generally, that the earth rests on solid foundations - as a building does. The idea is derived from the stability and fixedness of the earth, and from the fact that when a building is fixed and stable we infer that it has a solid foundation. The thought here is, that a proper administration of justice is essential to the stability and prosperity of a state - as essential as a solid foundation is to the stability of the edifice which is reared on it. The effect of a real-administration of justice in any community may be well compared with what the result would be if the foundations of the earth should be removed, or if the laws which now keep it in its place should cease to operate.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-82.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 82:5

All the foundations of the earth are out of course,

The radical wrongness of the world

I.
The foundation of mauve individual character is “out of course.” The true foundation of man’s character implies the supremacy of the Divine over the human, the spiritual over the carnal. Instead of this, the character of mankind is generally organized on the principle that puts the carnal over the spiritual, the human over the Divine.

II. The foundation of man’s social character is “out of course.” The true principle on which society should be formed is, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Instead of this, alas! falsehood, fraud, cupidity, intensified selfishness, form the world’s platform of social action.

III. The foundation of man’s political character is “out of course.” Righteousness is the only true and safe foundation of kingdoms. No human government can be safe or useful that aims not chiefly to develop the rights of men and to deal out justice to all. How often is it that the many are sacrificed to the few, the principles of rectitude for a miserable expediency.

IV. The foundation of man’s religious character is “out of course.” Supreme sympathy with the supremely good is the foundation of all true religion. Instead of which, as a rule, the religions of the world,--even the religion of England,--are based on dogmas, or ceremonies, or on mawkish sentiment. (Homilist.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 82:5". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-82.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

They knew not,.... The Targum adds, to do well. This is to be understood of unjust judges and wicked magistrates, who know not God, and have not the fear of him before their eyes, though he stands in the midst of them, and judges among them; which is the source of their unjust judging and unrighteous proceedings: for because they know not God, nor fear him, therefore they regard not men: nor do such know themselves; they are called gods, and they think they are so, and do not consider they are but men; they are the ministers of God, deputies under him, and are accountable to him: nor do they know their duty before pointed out; it is for them to know judgment, what is right, and what is wrong, that they may pronounce righteous judgment, Micah 3:2, but they do not know it, at least so as to practise it: nor did the Jewish rulers know Christ, which was the reason of their unrighteous dealing with him and with his followers; they put him to death, and so they did them, because they knew him not, 1 Corinthians 2:8,

neither will they understand: the Targum adds, by way of explanation, "the law", the rule of judgment, which judges ought to understand; so the Jewish rulers, Pharisees and Sadducees, were upbraided by Christ with ignorance of the Scriptures, and the law of God, their false glosses of which he refutes, Matthew 5:1 and their ignorance was wilful and affected, they shut their eyes against light and evidence, especially with respect to Christ; they could discern the face of the sky, but not the signs of the times, Matthew 16:3, who so blind as they that will not see? and such were the Jewish rulers; see Isaiah 42:19,

they walk on in darkness; they chose darkness rather than light, and so were blind leaders of the blind, and were wilfully so, having their eyes blinded with gifts, Deuteronomy 16:19,

all the foundations of the earth are out of course; or "shaken" or "moved"F6ימוטו "moventur", Vatablus; "dimoventur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "commoventur", Gejerus; "nutant", Tigurine version. : by the perversion of justice, towns, cities, commonwealths, kingdoms, and states, are thrown into the utmost disorder and confusion: as the king by judgment establisheth the land; Proverbs 29:4, so when judgment is not executed, it is unsettled, and thrown into confusion; or thoughF7So Ainsworth. "the foundation", &c. though this is the case, yet unjust judges will go on, perverting judgment, even though, as at the deluge, the foundations of the earth were shaken and moved, for the violence, rapine, and oppression, the earth was then filled with, which Kimchi thinks is here referred to; and though a dissolution of the Jewish polity, civil and ecclesiastical, was threatened, because of such injustice; that God would once more shake the heavens and the earth, remove their church and civil state, when they should cease to be a nation, their city be destroyed, and their temple, not one stone left upon another; and yet such was the obstinacy of their wicked judges, that they would persist their wicked ways.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-82.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the d foundations of the earth are out of course.

(d) That is, all things are out of order either by their tyranny or careless negligence.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-82.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

By the willful ignorance and negligence of judges, anarchy ensues (Psalm 11:3; Psalm 75:3).

out of course — (Compare Margin; Psalm 9:6; Psalm 62:2).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-82.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

They — The magistrates of whom this psalm treats.

Know not — The duty of their place.

Nor will — Their ignorance is wilful.

Walk on — They persist: it is their constant course.

In darkness — In their sinful courses.

The foundations — This corruption of the supreme rulers, flows from them to their inferior officers and members.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-82.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

5They know not, neither do they understand. (425) After having reminded princes of their duty, the Psalmist complains that his admonition from their infatuation is ineffectual, and that they refuse to receive wholesome instruction; yea, that although the whole world is shaken to its foundations, they, notwithstanding, continue thoughtless and secure in the neglect of their duty. He chiefly reprobates and condemns their madness as manifested in this, that although they see heaven and earth involved in confusion, they are no more affected at the sight than if the care of the interests of mankind did not belong to them, of which they are, notwithstanding, in an especial manner the chosen and appointed conservators. I have stated a little before, that what chiefly deprives them of understanding is, that, being dazzled with their own splendor, and perversely shaking off every yoke, no religious considerations have the effect of inclining them to moderation. All sound knowledge and wisdom must commence with yielding to God the honor which is his due, and submitting to be restrained and governed by his word. The last clause of the verse, Although all the foundations of the earth are moved, (426) is almost universally understood by interpreters in a different sense from that in which I have rendered it. They explain it as implying, that of all the calamities in the world the greatest is when princes neglect to execute the duties of their office; for it is the observance and prevalence of justice which constitutes the foundation on which the fabric of human society rests. Thus the sense, according to them, is, that the world is undermined and overthrown by the unjust tyranny of princes. I am far from rejecting this interpretation; but, as I have already hinted, I am more inclined to think, that we have here condemned the monstrous stupidity of judges, who can remain indifferent and unmoved in beholding the horrible confusion of civil society, yea even the very earth shaken to its foundations.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-82.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 82:5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

Ver. 5. They know not, neither will they understand] q.d. There is no good to be done upon these uncircumcised vice gods, as they may in the worst sense be best styled; it is bootless to advise them to better, for they are set; they are as good every whit as ever they mean to be; and as for their duty, nec cogitant, nec curant, they neither know it nor care to know it, but blunder on in the dark, and are led blindling by their base lusts, which so they may satisfy, they pass not what becomes of the weal public, but oppose with crest and breast whatsoever crosseth their sinful designs. Hereby they cause mighty concussions, and draw down heavy judgments, Isaiah 24:18-19. Pessimi dantur, et ruunt omnia.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-82.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 82:5. They know not, &c.— They are ignorant of their duty, and will not attend to it, but go on in the dark: All the foundations of the land are in a tottering state. Green. Respecting the word foundations, see on Psalms 11:3. The meaning is, "those who should rule the several nations of the earth uprightly, and preserve justice among all men, are themselves the most unjust, and thereby the authors of all mischief to the world."


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-82.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

They, the magistrates, of whom this Psalm treats,

know not, to wit, the truth and right of the cause, nor the duty of their place. Men are oft said in Scripture not to know what they do not love and practise.

Neither will they understand: this their ignorance is wilful and afflicted; they will not search out the truth, and they shut their eyes lest they should see what they would not.

They walk on; they persist and proceed; it is not one rash and transient action, but their constant course.

In darkness; either,

1. In ignorance; or,

2. In their sinful and unrighteous courses, as darkness is taken, Ephesians 4:17,18 5:8 1 John 1:6; being blinded by their corrupt affections and interests, Exodus 23:8.

All the foundations of the earth are out of course: this corruption of the supreme rulers doth flow from them to their inferior officers and members, and manifestly tends to the dissolution of all civil societies, partly by subverting that order and honesty by which they are supported, and partly by provoking God the Governor of the world to destroy them for their wickedness.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-82.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

5. They know not— “The judges are ignorant of their duty.”Ainsworth. They consider not the high dignity of their office, the fundamental laws of the theocracy, and that the existence of the nation depends on their fidelity. For more than sixty years, since the death of Solomon, the government had declined fearfully. We must understand God as still speaking to the judges, and Psalms 82:5 refers to such as are described Psalms 82:2, and will not practise the injunctions of Psalms 82:3-4. Compare Micah 3:1 : “And I said,… O… ye princes of the house of Israel, is it not for you to know judgment.”

All the foundations of the earth are out of course—The principles of just government are the pillars of society, and when they are perverted by corrupt and ambitious rulers the foundations of the social fabric are shaken, and must fall. The figure is that of an earthquake shaking and heaving the solid earth, and demolishing human habitations. Compare note on Psalms 75:3


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-82.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 82:5. They know not — That is, the magistrates, of whom this Psalm treats, are not acquainted with, and will not be at the pains to learn the truth and right of the causes which come before them, nor the duty of their place. Neither will they understand — This their ignorance is wilful and affected: they will not search out the truth, and they shut their eyes lest they should see what they do not love to see. They walk on — They persist and proceed: it is not one rash and transient action, but their constant course; in darkness — In ignorance, or in their sinful and unrighteous courses; being blinded by their corrupt affections and interests. All the foundations of the earth are out of course — This corruption of the supreme rulers flows from them to their inferior officers and members, and manifestly tends to the dissolution of all civil societies, partly by subverting that order and honesty by which they are supported, and partly by provoking God, the governor of the world, to destroy them for their wickedness. Green translates this verse, They are ignorant of their duty, and will not attend to it; but go on in the dark; all the foundations of the land are in a tottering state. The general meaning is, “Those that should rule the several nations of the earth uprightly, and preserve justice among men, are themselves the most unjust, and thereby the authors of all mischief to the world.” Respecting the word foundations, see on Psalms 11:3.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-82.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Nation. That there may be no more of this religion, or Catholics. (Worthington) --- Israel delighted most in being styled the chosen nation of God. (Berthier)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-82.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

They = The oppressed.

will = can.

on = to and fro.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-82.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

They know not, neither will they understand. Practical ignorance besets intellectual (John 7:17). They who do not what good they know are righteously doomed to lose all moral perception of what is right (James 4:17; Matthew 13:12).

They walk on in darkness - in spite of God's continued long- suffering and monitions (Psalms 82:2-4 : cf. Proverbs 2:13).

All the foundations of the earth are out of course. The whole fabric of society must necessarily totter when those who ought to be the pillars-the "princes," and 'judges,' whose especial duty it is "to know judgment" (Micah 3:1) - are perverted and "walk on in darkness." Here not merely Israel, but the whole of Christendom, and the so- called civilized earth is contemplated: The question may well be asked at such a crisis (Psalms 11:3), "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The answer is in Psalms 75:3, "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars thereof." God assures us that when utter dissolution seems imminent, He will interpose, manifesting Himself as Lord and Judge, to cast out the ungodly, and fix the earth on its only true foundation-righteousness. Psalms 75:2, note, 'When the appointed season comes, I will judge righteously.' There shall be a social and moral earthquake preceding the advent of the Restorer of all things (Acts 3:21; Isaiah 24:1; Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 24:19-21).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-82.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-82.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
They
That is, the judges know not.
know not
53:4; Proverbs 1:29; Micah 3:1; Romans 1:28
walk
Proverbs 2:13; 4:19; Ecclesiastes 2:14; John 3:19; 12:35; 1 John 2:11
all the, etc
All the civil institutions of the land totter.
11:3; 75:3; Ecclesiastes 3:16; Isaiah 5:7; 2 Timothy 2:19
out of course
Heb. moved.

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 82:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-82.html.

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