I do not know whether Nehemiah, the governor of Judah during the second half of the fifth century B.C., knew the writings of Solomon. He may have since Solomon lived several centuries before his time. If he did, he may have had Solomon's wise words in mind when he instructed the people of his day about Thanksgiving. Solomon had said,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).

In a judicial setting as significant as this one seems to be, we might anticipate a thunderous judgment of eternal death being passed upon Israel's unjust judges. And indeed, there are some who take the sentence of verses 6 and 7 in this way, death being understood as eternal death or damnation. Yet the psalm does not actually say this, though it might be inferred as a final consequence of the ruler’s sin. Instead, it seems to speak temporally only, reminding the rulers that they are human after all, that they will die in time, just like anybody else, and that they will fall from their exalted position just like any other ruler.

In the New International Version, the next three verses are set apart as a separate stanza, and rightly so, for they constitute God’s indictment of the injustice practiced by Israel’s judges. Technically, the first part is a question: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked” (v. 2)? The second part is a command: “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (vv. 3, 4).

We have already looked at the first verse, but we need to return to it again briefly because it sets the scene for what follows. It is a convening of the court. It is God calling the "gods” before him to render judgment.

What is the meaning of “gods” in this passage? Yesterday we considered the possibility that “gods” refers to human judges. Today we consider another possibility.