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Psalm 58

Jorine Johnson

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?

    Do you judge the children of man uprightly?

2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;

    your hands deal out violence on earth.

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;

    they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent,

    like the deaf adder that stops its ear, 

5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers

    or of the cunning enchanter.

6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;

    tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!

7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;

    when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.

8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,

    like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.

9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,

    whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;

    he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.

11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;

    surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

David cries out to God of his complaints against the wicked. David certainly had many enemies such as Saul and others that either challenged his right to rule and took attempts to defeat him. Verse 1 says, “Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?” (ESV) and the NIV uses rulers which could specific the ones in leadership that are not judging rightly. The NKJV uses “silent ones” instead of gods which could mean those that allow things to happen without voicing the truth on behalf of the oppressed. David describes in much detail how the wicked are like that from their birth, they spout venom in poisoning others to destruction, and they speak lies. From the context, it may be assumed that Saul and the leaders are hunting down David even though he is righteous. 

And David calls for their swift destruction: their teeth are broken, vanish, swept away like a snail, and defeated by the Lord Himself in vengeance. It’s interesting to hear some pretty tough words from David about their destruction and death. I think we’ve softened the understanding of the holiness and just nature of God. God is the God of war, the one who breaks the bow and shield, and the God that says, “vengeance is mine” (Deut 32:35, Rom 12:19). Vengeance is a holy thing that belongs to God, and that’s part of God’s perfect justice. David leaves the justice to God.

We can also be fully assured when the difficult times approach believers. It’s hard being a Christian and with the tides turning, our confidence is not in the president, ruler and authorities, and our government as they like us are all wicked. But God is the perfect judge and he will give to everyone as they deserve: wicked and righteous alike.

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