Mr. Breuggemann is correct in pointing out how the times were changing and Israel would have to change with them if they were to survive. In addition, the early ‘60s were a time of great change. Because of World War II and its aftermath, America found itself in the role of major world power in geo-politics. The world was watching as the students said in Chicago in ’68.
To this date, American is deciding between King Saul and King David. Breuggemann relates how King Saul was a war chief who represents the Articles of Confederation and the old Confederacy. His idea of government was as a warrior chief and no more. We have a political party who views government the same way. It is to defend America from foreign invaders and not much more. They call it minimalist government.
Psalm 72 and Psalm 82 show God and King David had a far bigger role in mind for government. Psalm 72 begins, “לִשְׁלֹמֹה,” “To Solomon.” It ends, “The end of the psalms of David, son of Jesse.” The context is clearly King David telling King Solomon what the proper role of government is. It includes, “Judging/Dan God’s people with צֶדֶק/charity, and his poor with correct judicial precedent. It includes giving correct judicial precedent for the poor of the people, and saving the children of the needy, and crushes the oppressor.” King David mentions this several times.
Psalm 82 is the famous Psalm which has God talking with other Elohim. As the Psalm continues, who the other Elohim are becomes clear. I declare: “Gods though you be, offspring of the Most High all of you, As any mortal you shall die; like any prince you shall fall.” Deuteronomy 5 makes clear when it says, “Moses summoned all Israel and told them, Hear, Israel, the customs and correct judicial precedents which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them.”
Customs and correct judicial precedents by definition take time to develop. The word for “Correct judicial precedent,” “מִּשְׁפָּטִ,” comes from a root, which means “lip.” We are to view all the customs and correct judicial precedents as if they came from the lip of God himself. The Elohim of Psalm 82 are the people giving the customs and correct judicial precedents.
They stand as Elohim/gods, standing in the place of God. They are the princes, offspring of God, and Psalm 82 chastises them for not doing their job, playing the role of King Saul instead, and allowing the rich, the Russia, those who think themselves first, to exploit the poor. Supporting minimalist government, they support King Saul’s style of rule. They are the ones who interpret the Second Amendment as supporting their right to a militia. This is Articles of Confederation and Confederacy way of thinking. The proponents of Psalm 82 support King David’s style of rule.
As in America in the ‘60s, America was changing from a rural backwater and entering the world stage as a modern power. Those old enough still remember watching Tennessee Ernie Ford as he gawked at Lucile Ball as she pointed to a bathroom with indoor plumbing. In the skit, he could not get used to the idea. America has always been about the debate between King Saul and King David. The Civil War was also a major time of change. The Confederacy wanted limited government and the right to oppress the poor. The Civil War saw the first national draft and the first national currency. During the Civil War, military units were divided by states. Afterward, they were divided by function.
Before the war, rifles were smooth bored and breech loaded. The war saw the creation of bored rifles and bullets, hand grenades, aerial warfare/balloons, and the start of the industrial age with the railroad and the telegraph. Just like the Bronze Age turned into the Iron Age, and with it its own industrial revolution, the supporters of King Solomon did not understand the ramifications of what was coming. Some things never change. We still debate what the computer age means to the way governments must operate to defend their citizens against the rich and powerful.
This is part 2. Please click here for part 1