Give Your Justice (Psalm 82)
This past Spring, I taught a class at church on the Psalms. We went through a different category of Psalms during each week of class, so that one week focused on lament, the next, praise, thanksgiving, imprecatory, etc. Towards the end of the semester, I taught on the prophetic and justice Psalms, which call the people of God back to covenant faithfulness to their God, to their neighbor, and to their land; to "do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God."
Every week of the class, we endeavored to sing one of the Psalms that we would be looking at in class because I taught from the conviction that the Psalms were originally intended to be the Songbook of Israel for its worship and liturgical life. Psalm singing has now become much less popular in the Western Church than it was in ages past, aside from the selected phrases taken out of the Psalms that comprise many of the praise choruses written in the last 20-30 years and a few other traditions that have maintained the practice to varying degrees. But moving away from Psalm singing has not been without a price, for much of the theologically-rich material in the Psalter has the power to shape and transform our capacity for the love of God and neighbor in the midst of praise.
When I got to the prophetic and justice Psalms, there was really no material to sing these Psalms that was useful for my context (nor for most church contexts today). So, I worked with our church's Artist-In-Residence, Michael Anderson, and my own composer-wife-musicial genius-in residence, Melissa Littlepage, to develop a new setting of Psalm 82 for our time. Here is the text of the Psalm, the song, a partial video of a recent performance of it at the LDR Weekend Conference, and a free lead sheet. We are set to professionally record this song very soon. But please, take and share as you find use for it!
If you heard the song by itself, you might think it's a modern social justice anthem--and that would be just fine--but actually, it's just the Scripture:
1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
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."
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
(Psalm 82, ESV)
Here's the text of the song:
1. How long will the rulers judge with no justice?
And show partiality to the wicked? (Repeat)
Give your justice to the weak and the orphan and the poor;
Take them out of the hands of the wicked forevermore;
Bring oppression to an end, guard the helpless, and restore
Love and justice on the earth till affliction is no more.
2. Those who hurt the least of these have no knowledge.
Deepest darkness follows them and the earth shakes (Repeat)
3. Rise, O God, to judge the earth and the peoples,
For these all belong to you as your creatures (Repeat)
Download the lead sheet here