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Summary: Psalm 58 is classified as an imprecatory psalm {1], chiefly because of the sixfold curse in verses 6-9. In it, David is calling for judgment, but not because of some personal wrong done to him. It is rather the failure of the rulers to administer justice, and the abuse of judicial power.

Home Lessons

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tom Lowe

PSALM 58

Title: THE DOOM OF THE GODLESS

(To the choirmaster; Altaschith {2], Michtam of David, according to Due Not Destroy.)

Theme: An imprecatory prayer against the enemy

Psalm 58 (KJV)

1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord.

7 Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.

8 As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.

10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

Introduction

Psalm 58 is classified as an imprecatory psalm {1], chiefly because of the sixfold curse in verses 6-9. In it, David is calling for judgment, but not because of some personal wrong done to him. It is rather the failure of the rulers to administer justice, and the abuse of judicial power. They were silent when they should speak up. (Doesn’t that sound like today’s politicians.) Their judgments are neither honorable nor reasonable, and some are down-right immoral. Evil in heart, they lie in word. The poem calls for public vindication of God’s righteous judgment. A holy God cannot tolerate evil. This truth must be so clearly proved that none can doubt. It is to this end that David pleads for justice.

Psalm 58 is also another of David’s michtam psalms, one written to be engraved upon the mind and conscience. This psalm carries a footnote addressing it to the chief Musician; it is to be incorporated into the repertoire of the temple choir. And, as in the previous two psalms, it carries the words al-taschith, “destroy not!” With all these signals flashing we can be sure that this is an important intersection as we journey through the psalms.

The tune recommended for this psalm is entitled “Do Not Destroy.” That seems odd, when, at first glance, it would appear that the psalmist is imploring God to do the very opposite. But what this psalm offers us is a deep insight into the meaning of God’s perceptive far-sighted rule (government).

It is impossible to say when David wrote it. Some think it was just after he had ascended the throne that he realized just how corrupt the administration of justice in Israel really was. With his passion for justice the stories of judicial arrogance, dishonesty and oppression that filled his ears must have made his blood boil.

Some think David wrote this psalm during the Absalom rebellion. Absalom had stolen the hearts of the men of Israel by pretending to be far more concerned for their social welfare than David was and by promising the people that, when he came to the throne, he would see to it that the wheels of justice moved swiftly, smoothly, and sympathetically. All the time he was devising the most monstrous crimes, many of which he executed during that brief time when he sat upon the throne.

But others believe the psalm was written when David was being hunted by Saul and that it expresses David’s deep contempt for the way Saul was handling the affairs of the kingdom—setting in judgment on others while he violated every principle of judgment.

There is yet another opinion which holds that the psalm was probably written late in David’s exile, or very early in his reign in Hebron and may have grown out of his pondering the mess he had inherited from his father-in-law (King Saul).

One reason there is so much difficulty with the date is because the subject matter deals with a perennial problem: the unjust judge and corruption in the courts—a theme that touches us today.

(58:1-5) David begins with an explosion of righteous indignation at what he sees and at what he personally has experienced. He starts off with a question, and who is asking it? I believe it is God who is speaking, using the pen of David. He paints a vivid picture of rampant evil in verses 1-5.

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