I just wanted to extend a thanks to John Piper for his recent essay on his Desiring God blog. Dr. Piper’s short essay on Psalm 82 was entitled, “Putting the Gods in Their Place.” I hope you’ll all give it a read. (Thanks to those who brought it to my attention).
While I wish Dr. Piper hadn’t used scare quotes around the word gods, he doesn’t fudge the truth that the biblical writers believed the gods were real. In fact, he specifically (and accurately) connects the gods to the principalities and powers that Paul wrote about. Beyond that point, he takes a pastoral approach to the passage.
I’ve read too many evangelicals that basically end up saying the text in Psalm 82 just can’t mean what it plainly says. (“The gods are just people … move along citizens, nothing to see here”). Dr. Piper doesn’t do that. I don’t know if he has read my book The Unseen Realm or read any of my journal articles on Psalm 82 and the divine council. I’m going to ask Lexham to send him a copy of the book as a token of appreciation for not following the herd.
The essay (and the scare quotes) made me think of my first publishing experience. Way back in 2001 at the end of the editorial process for my article (“Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God”) in Dallas Seminary’s Bibliotheca Sacra journal, the editor (the late Roy Zuck) called me at home about the article. He told me understood what I was saying (the article had a whole section on Psalm 82) but was a little nervous about using the plural gods in the article. He was hesitant over what the readership response would be. I recommend that they substitute “plural elohim” for “gods” in the article. He loved the idea. What made me smile was that, of course, there was no difference in meaning, yet somehow the biblical Hebrew term made it “safer”! When I got the proofs, though, nothing in the article was changed. He just needed a ready answer for protest letters, I suppose. Anyway, a good memory.