Psalms 58

Listen to Psalms 58
1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?[a] Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands 1deal out violence on earth.
3 The wicked are 2estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
4 3They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
5 so that it 4does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter.
6 O God, 5break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
7 Let them 6vanish like water that runs away; when he 7aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8 Let them be like the snail 8that dissolves into slime, like 9the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of 10thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he 11sweep them away![b]
10 12The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will 13bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, "Surely there is 14a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who 15judges on earth."

Psalms 58 Commentary

Chapter 58

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.

Cross References 15

  • 1. [Psalms 94:20]
  • 2. Psalms 51:5; Isaiah 48:8
  • 3. Psalms 140:3; [Deuteronomy 32:33]
  • 4. Jeremiah 8:17
  • 5. Psalms 3:7; Job 4:10; Job 29:17
  • 6. Psalms 112:10; Joshua 7:5
  • 7. Psalms 64:3
  • 8. [See ver. 7 above]
  • 9. See Job 3:16
  • 10. Psalms 118:12; Ecclesiastes 7:6
  • 11. [Job 27:21; See Proverbs 10:25]
  • 12. Deuteronomy 32:43; See Job 22:19
  • 13. Psalms 68:23
  • 14. Isaiah 3:10
  • 15. Psalms 67:4; Psalms 94:2; Genesis 18:25; Job 19:29; Ecclesiastes 12:14

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or mighty lords (by revocalization; Hebrew in silence)
  • [b]. The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain

Chapter Summary

To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David. According to the Syriac version, this psalm was written when Saul threatened the priests, because they did not show him where David was, when they knew it. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that the title "Altaschith" refers to David's not destroying Nabal, as he threatened; and that the venom of Nabal's tongue in reviling him, and the deafness of his ears in not attending to the messengers that told their errand wisely, are designed in this psalm; and in which the psalmist prophesies of his sudden death, before the pots for his feast could be warmed by the thorns under them, and while he was lively and jovial. Jarchi is of opinion that it was composed after David had been in the trench where Saul lay, and took away the spear and cruse, and went his way, and called to Abner, saying, "answerest thou not?" which is as if he should say, hast thou it not in thy power now to convince Saul, and show him that he pursues me without cause, since, if I would, I could have slain him? Kimchi says it was written on account of Abner, and the rest of Saul's princes, who judged David as a rebel against the government, and said it was for Saul to pursue after him to slay him; for if they had restrained him, Saul would not have pursued after him; and indeed they seem to be wicked judges who are addressed in this psalm; "do not destroy." Arama says, it declares the wickedness of Saul's judges.

Psalms 58 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.