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Psalm 58

Prayer for Vengeance

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam.

1

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?

Do you judge people fairly?

2

No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;

your hands deal out violence on earth.

 

3

The wicked go astray from the womb;

they err from their 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;

like grass let them be trodden down and wither.

8

Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;

like the untimely birth that 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 they see vengeance done;

they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

11

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

surely there is a God who judges on earth.”


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Ps 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 (Ps 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 (Ps 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 Ps 52:5-7; 54:7). In this assurance let heaven and earth rejoice (Ps 96:10; 97:1, &c.).




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