28. Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
28. Diis non detrahes, et principi populi tui non maledices.
9. And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.
9. Quum finem fecerint praefecti militares loquendi ad populum, constituent principes turmarum in capite populi.
First of all, He commands that we should think and speak reverently of judges, and others, who exercise the office of magistrate: nor is it to be questioned, that, in the ordinary idiom of the Hebrew language, He repeats the same thing twice over; and consequently that the same persons are called "gods," and "rulers of the people." The name of God is, figuratively indeed, but most reasonably, applied to magistrates, upon whom, as the ministers of His authority, He has inscribed a mark of His glory. For, as we have seen that honor is due to fathers, because God has associated them with Himself in the possession of the name, so also here His own dignity is claimed for judges, in order that the people may reverence them, because they are God's representatives, as His lieutenants, and vicars. And so Christ, the surest expositor, explains it, when He quotes the passage from Psalm 82:6, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High," (John 10:34,) viz., "that they are called gods, unto whom the word of God came," which is to be understood not of the general instruction addressed to all God's children, but of the special command to rule.
It is a signal exaltation of magistrates, that God should not only count them in the place of parents, but present them to us dignified by His own name; whence also it clearly appears that they are not to be obeyed only from fear of punishment, "but also for conscience sake," (Romans 13:5,) and to be reverently honored, lest God should be despised in them. If any should object, that it would be wrong to praise the vices of those whom we perceive to abuse their power; the answer is easy, that although judges are to be borne with even if they be not the best,1 still that the honor with which they are invested, is not a covering for vice. Nor does God command us to applaud their faults, but that the people should rather deplore them in silent sorrow, than raise disturbances in a licentious and seditious spirit, and so subvert political government.
1 "Encore qu'ils ne sont pas tels qu'ils devroyent;" even though they be not what they should. -- Fr.