Psalm 82 — LeGrand Baker — law of consecration in the Council in Heaven

Psalm 82 — LeGrand Baker — law of consecration in the Council in Heaven

The story of Psalm 82 is best understood as an insert into Abraham 3:22-23. There the members of the Council in Heaven make a covenant with Elohim. The covenant sounds remarkably like the Law of Consecration.

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, [If Psalm 82 goes here then the next phrase is a response to their covenants] and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

Psalm 82 is introduced by a narrator (or a chorus, as in a Greek play.) In the first verse, the narrator or chorus describes what is happening, then Elohim speaks to the members of the Council, then, in the last verse, the Council responds. In my imagination, I am not sure how this was presented, but it seems like there are two likely possibilities. Either there were persons on the stage who represented the Council, or else the audience represented the Council. In the latter case it would have been the audience who made the covenant in verse 8.

The 82nd psalm reads:

Introduction by the narrator or chorus:

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;
he judgeth among the gods.

Instructions given by Elohim:

2 How long will ye judge unjustly,
and accept the persons of the wicked?
3 Defend the poor and fatherless:
do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy:
rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither will they understand;
they walk on in darkness:
all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6 I have said, Ye are gods;
and all of you are children of the most High.
7 But ye shall die like men,
and fall like one of the princes.

The members of the Council respond by making a covenant with Elohim:

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth:
for thou shalt inherit all nations.

Now let’s look at it more carefully. In the first verse of Psalm 82, our narrator is on stage again explaining what is happening.

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

The Hebrew word here translated “God” is Elohim, who is the Father of the gods who are the members of the Council. They are called the noble and great ones in Abraham 3, and “the gods” in Abraham 4 and 5.

To Judge in Hebrew, means the same as it does in English. A judge may condemn, exonerate, or choose (as a judge in an apple pie contest — only this is more serious than apple pie). Many scholars see this as a court room trial where God is condemning the bad gods. However it appears to me that it fits with Abraham’s “and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers;” indicates that he is choosing. When one reads it that way it becomes an important part of our own stories.

After the narrator’s introduction, the Father of the gods gives his sons instructions about how they are to conduct themselves when they go to the earth. He begins by warning them of a major danger they will face when they come go down to this world. As children, they will grow up in societies where they will be taught to pay homage to wealthy and powerful people. Human cultures teach that prestige, money, education, and fancy toys are evidence that one is in good with God. He warns them that they must shake off that teaching before they can fulfill their priesthood assignments.

2. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?

The language implies they have already judged unrighteously, but if, as I believe, this was instructions about how they are to conduct themselves in this world, then implicitly what it says is this: “When you get to that earth your culture will teach you that you should judge people by the correctness of their speech, their wealth, and education, but you must learn that is not the way to judge.” If this psalm was a part of a stage presentation, and represented instructions given at the Council in Heaven, then, for the audience, it would have been a symbolic sode experience. In that case the question, “How long will ye judge unjustly,” may have been designed to evoke a response like Isaiah’s “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5) As I will discuss in detail below, to be a righteous judge is the greatest power and most lasting obligation of sacral kingship. These members of the Council were kings already – they are called “rulers” and “gods.” But when they get to the earth they will be as vulnerable as everyone else that worldly values will get in the way of their righteous judgements. In addition to the warning about how not to judge, the Father instructs his sons that they must judge in mercy, kindness, charity. Those are the things everyone must do, but for the gods, no matter what other specific individual assignment they might have, to judge righteously is the most important of all.

3-4. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

After the instructions came the reason: the gods will be expected to be spiritual and political anchors to the people, and as such they must first of all be servants. Like everyone else on the earth, the people whom they serve will have forgotten their glorious past in the pre-mortal world. They will stumble in the darkness of forgetfulness, and some will deeply resent the help the noble and great ones seek to give. But that resentment will not excuse the gods from doing their duty. The people on earth must be helped – but not just helped – helped with great compassion. The Father reminds his sons,

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

Being one whose primary function is to show compassion can be scarey – in fact it can be really dangerous. Elohim reminds his sons that in our world they will be subjected to persecution – even death – but their suffering those things may be an integral part of their assignment. They are gods, but they will all die: some will use up their lives in the service to others; while others, like Abinadi and the Prophet Joseph, will die like princes in battle, sealing their testimonies with their own blood.

6-7 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

At this point in the play on the great stage on the hill near Jerusalem, those representing the Council respond. They invite their Father to stand as a token of the covenant they are about to make.1 Then, in unison they each swear to fulfill his own assignment in order that the Father’s purposes may be accomplished among all people. They say,

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

It is possible, perhaps probable, that speaking those covenant words was not limited to the people who represented the members of the Council on stage. There is no sure evidence, of course, but it seems likely that the people in the congregation who were participating rather than just watching, also spoke the last words of the psalm. If so, that covenant would have been made between God and every individual man – perhaps every individual person – in the congregation.

In review, here is the 82nd psalm.

The narrator speaks:

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;
he judgeth among the gods.

Elohim speaks:

2 How long will ye judge unjustly,
and accept the persons of the wicked?
3 Defend the poor and fatherless:
do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy:
rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither will they understand;
they walk on in darkness:
all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6 I have said, Ye are gods;
and all of you are children of the most High.
7 But ye shall die like men,
and fall like one of the princes.

The members of the Council respond:

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth:
for thou shalt inherit all nations.

1 For an example of the practice of standing to make covenant see 2 Kings 23:1-3.

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