God’s punishment of wickedness and wicked nations is never arbitrary or capricious.
In the immediate devastation of Jerusalem, Asaph was unable to discern why God’s anger had burned against the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 74:1). As Asaph continued wrestling with the question of “Why?”, he began to discern the substantial reasons for Jehovah’s wrath.
In Psalm 81, he notes that God’s people had violated their covenant of exclusivity. There was to be no foreign god among them; there was to be exclusive worship of Jehovah. But, such was not the case (vv. 9-11).
In Psalm 82, Asaph records a second reason for Israel’s devastation—injustice in the land. Judges were judging unjustly and showing partiality to the wicked (v. 2). Society’s most vulnerable citizens—the poor, fatherless, afflicted, and needy—were not being protected from the wicked (vv. 3-4) as prescribed in the holy and just law given by God to Moses.
Because “God stands in the congregation of the mighty”, He knows the corruption of the judges and punishes them accordingly (v. 1). Injustice in a country makes its very foundations unstable (v. 5). This is not a slight or superficial thing; it is a wicked and deadly blight. Eventually, the only remedy for this insidious societal cancer is for the sovereign God to arise and judge it (v. 8).
In Asaph’s day, He did exactly that.