Psalm 82:6 says, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.”
The “gods” and the “ye” here are the children of Israel. Even more directly, they are the leaders of the nation of Israel. He uses the term “gods” in verse 1 of the same chapter, “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.”
He goes on to criticize the leaders of Israel because they are not doing anything to correct the injustice going on in the nation. Clearly then, gods here are the leaders of Israel who are responsible for correcting the people.
The Hebrew word in use is elohim, the very same word used for God Himself. Calling people “gods” seems rather problematic for us! But the Bible does it a number of times. Consider the following just from the Book of Exodus:
Exodus 4:12-16—Moses will be as God to Aaron.
Exodus 7:1—I have made you [Moses] god to pharaoh—he will speak God’s words and do God’s miracles, God’s spokesman
Exodus 21:6—elohim is the Hebrew word translated “judges.”
Exodus 22:28—use gods and rulers interchangeably.
Perhaps this can be traced back to Genesis and the creation of humanity. God made them both, male and female, in the image of God. People were put here to rule and subdue creation. People were God’s representative on earth to take care of His creation. It was our stewardship.
This can then be seen in Psalm 82. Israel is God’s chosen people. To know God in that day you had to know Israel. They were supposed to obey God and receive blessings, this would make them a light among the Gentiles. In the nation of Israel there were leaders chosen who spoke for God–prophets, priests, kings, etc. They were to be elohims for the nation of Israel. God spoke to these people and they were in the place of God for others.
We see the same thing elsewhere in Scripture. Parents need to be careful how they parent as we are the first notions of who God is for our kids. Bosses are to remember that they have a Boss in heaven and rule accordingly. Anytime you are the authority over someone you are in a position to show them what God is like.
This is all heightened even more in the New Testament. Jesus quotes Psalm 82 in John 10. Some of the people of Israel are upset with Jesus because He made Himself to be God. Jesus quotes this verse and says basically, “If they were called gods because they had God’s word revealed to them; how much more should I be called God when I am doing these miracles and revealing more of God to you?”
If you look at the implications of the Gospel–Christ will be in us and we will be in Him, we are members of His Body, etc., we can grasp a fuller conception of being God’s representatives on earth. Consider the following:
Matthew 10:39-42, 14, 20—Christ says if they receive you they receive me, and if they receive me they receive the Father.
Romans 8:17–We are joint-heirs with Christ.
Galatians 2:20–No longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.
2 Peter 1:4–Partakers of the divine nature
Hebrews 2:9-11–We are one and Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers.
This unity with Christ is an astounding thing when you examine the implications. There are many who do not know God, but by our behavior they can see God in us. Therefore, we become as god to them.
You should be careful in not getting too carried away with this! This is not saying you are a god. This is not saying that there is a little god in all of us and we just need to know ourselves to know God. Don’t get weird!
But there is a very real sense in which we are linked in with God so much that we are partakers of His nature! If people receive us, they receive Him! Again, be careful with this, but also revel in the beauty and depth of what He’s saying!