Wicked judges described and reproved. (1-5) A prayer that they may be disabled, and their ruin predicted. (6-11)
Verses 1-5 When wrong is done under the form of law, it is worse than any other; especially it is grievous to behold those who profess to be children of God, joining together against any of his people. We should thank the Lord for merciful restraints; we should be more earnest in seeking renewing grace, more watchful over ourselves, and more patient under the effects of fallen nature in others. The corruption of their nature was the root of bitterness. We may see in children the wickedness of the world beginning. They go astray from God and their duty as soon as possibly they can. And how soon will little children tell lies! It is our duty to take pains to teach them, and above all, earnestly to pray for converting grace to make our children new creatures. Though the poison be within, much of it may be kept from breaking forth to injure others. When the Saviour's words are duly regarded, the serpent becomes harmless. But those who refuse to hear heavenly wisdom, must perish miserably, for ever.
Verses 6-11 David prayed that the enemies of God's church and people might be disabled to do further mischief. We may, in faith, pray against the designs of the enemies of the church. He foretells their ruin. And who knows the power of God's anger? The victories of the Just One, in his own person and that of his servants, over the enemies of man's salvation, produce a joy which springs not from revenge, but from a view of the Divine mercy, justice, and truth, shown in the redemption of the elect, the punishment of the ungodly, and the fulfilment of the promises. Whoever duly considers these things, will diligently seek the reward of righteousness, and adore the Providence which orders all thing aright in heaven and in earth.
Psalms 58:1-11 . David's critical condition in some period of the Sauline persecution probably occasioned this Psalm, in which the Psalmist teaches that the innate and actual sinfulness of men deserves, and shall receive, God's righteous vengeance, while the pious may be consoled by the evidence of His wise and holy government of men.
1. O congregation--literally, "Oh, dumb"; the word used is never translated "congregation." "Are ye dumb? ye should speak righteousness," may be the translation. In any case, the writer remonstrates with them, perhaps a council, who were assembled to try his cause, and bound to give a right decision.
2. This they did not design; but
weigh . . . violence--or give decisions of violence. Weigh is a figure to express the acts of judges.
in the earth--publicly.
3-5. describe the wicked generally, who sin naturally, easily, malignantly, and stubbornly.
4. stoppeth her--literally, "his."
ear--that is, the wicked man (the singular used collectively), who thus becomes like the deaf adder which has no ear.
6. He prays for their destruction, under the figure of ravenous beasts ( Psalms 3:7 , 7:2 ).
7. which run continually--literally, "they shall go to themselves," utterly depart, as rapid mountain torrents.
he bendeth . . . his arrows--prepares it. The term for preparing a bow applied to arrows ( Psalms 64:3 ).
let them . . . pieces--literally, "as if they cut themselves off"--that is, become blunted and of no avail.
8, 9. Other figures of this utter ruin; the last denoting rapidity. In a shorter time than pots feel the heat of thorns on fire--
9. he shall take them away as with a whirlwind--literally, "blow him (them) away."
both living . . . wrath--literally, "as the living" or fresh as the heated or burning--that is, thorns--all easily blown away, so easily and quickly the wicked. The figure of the "snail" perhaps alludes to its loss of saliva when moving. Though obscure in its clauses, the general sense of the passage is clear.
10, 11. wash . . . wicked--denoting great slaughter. The joy of triumph over the destruction of the wicked is because they are God's enemies, and their overthrow shows that He reigneth (compare Psalms 52:5-7 , 54:7 ). In this assurance let heaven and earth rejoice ( Psalms 96:10 , 97:1 , &c.).