Psalm 82 (MSG)
1 God calls the judges into his courtroom,
he puts all the judges in the dock.
2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
and prosecute all those who exploit them.”
5 Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
the world’s coming unglued.
6-7 “I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”
8 O God, give them their just deserts!
You’ve got the whole world in your hands!
Who would be a referee (ref), with the abuse some refs get in football (soccer)? Rugby rewards dissent by further penalising a transgression and moving a penalty closer to the offended team’s line, thus deterring verbal violence against a ref’s ruling. But why do we need rules for sports, and people to enforce them? Amateur club golf trusts players to play by the rules until the stakes get higher, but agreed rules are vital for games of playfulness and skill, otherwise we might spend more time arguing than playing.
It was in the second half of the 19th century that sports like football, rugby and cricket ‘descended from the holy mountain’ with rules to play by, freeing competition and fair play between teams. Government saw such sports as important for disciplining (controlling?) the unruly masses of men flooding cities from rural areas, while the Church used them as fields to grow ‘muscular Christianity’ and discipleship.
Life is not sport or a game, but it involves 10 key Old Testament rules and Jesus’ overarching Golden Rule, which make clear the do’s and don’ts by which to live life well. In an ideal world (Eden and Heaven?) we perhaps won’t need refs or judges, but presently for fairness and justice we need accountable adjudicators. Corruption and ignorant prejudice ruin rules and the relationships they are designed to protect and enhance. We are to speak up for those unable to speak up for themselves against injustice, and ultimately we can be sure that God will hold everyone accountable on Judgement Day.
Ultimate Justice of The Peace,
Lawyer Lord of The Universe,
The One to Whom all referees are responsible,
we thank you for rules and lines,
within which to play and share life’s joy.
Forgive me for faltering / falling short (sins) and crossing the line (transgression) accidentally and intentionally,
when I try to get my own way and win by cutting corners,
cheating myself and others of the joy of fair play and healthy competition.
In the face of rules being enforced unfairly,
feed me the patience,
wisdom, grace and mercy,
with which you rule over me.