Psalms 82:5

5 1They have neither knowledge nor understanding, 2they walk about in darkness; 3all the foundations of the earth are 4shaken.

Psalms 82:5 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 82:5

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 ) ( John 16:2 John 16:3 ) ,

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 5:1-48 ) ( Psalms 22:29 ) 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" F6: 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 though F7 "the foundation" 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.


F6 (wjwmy) "moventur", Vatablus; "dimoventur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "commoventur", Gejerus; "nutant", Tigurine version.
F7 So Ainsworth.

Psalms 82:5 In-Context

3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I said, "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince."

Cross References 4

  • 1. [Micah 3:1]; See Psalms 14:4
  • 2. Proverbs 2:13
  • 3. See Psalms 11:3
  • 4. Psalms 10:6
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.