From Psalms 58-65
Do you long to see the corrupt leaders of this world judged? So does today’s psalmist! Today’s psalm is a vehement condemnation of the corruption of leaders and judges. It calls for their judgment and concludes affirming of God’s justice. God will judge and set things to right.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Ps 58.1-11; Book Two; David; God Who Judges the Earth
Ps 59.1-17; Book Two; David; Deliver Me from My Enemies
Ps 60.1-12; Book Two; David; He Will Tread Down Our Foes
Ps 61.1-8; Book Two; David; Lead Me to the Rock
Ps 62.1-12; Book Two; David; My Soul Waits for God Alone
Ps 63.1-11; Book Two; David; My Soul Thirsts for You
Ps 64.1-10; Book Two; David; Hide Me from the Wicked
Ps 65.1-13; Book Two; David; O God of Our Salvation
Passage and Comments
The psalm begins openly condemning a group of people who are in positions of leadership and use them for evil.
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. (Ps 58:1–2)
The psalmist calls these people ‘gods’ (cf. Ps 86.8). Presumably because they believe they are gods by the way they speak, behave and think of themselves.
They are in a position of judgment. But they do not render justice.
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. (Ps 58:3-5)
These ‘gods’ are grouped in with the wicked. With snakes.
Snakes have not been held in high regard since Genesis 3.
Born in sin they speak lies. Their speech is described in a number of ways. ‘Venom’, ‘charm’ and ‘enchanting’. Their speech is lethal and smooth. Words can be used as weapons.
The psalm turns against them.
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! (Ps 58:6-9)
The psalmist doesn’t hold back. He calls on God to judge and punish them. To wipe them out so they may be no more. He wants them to be ineffective fighters. To be slime, dead children, etc.
His call for judgement reflects strong emotions. Perhaps he is in painful conditions. Has seen their evil. Has come under their oppression and ridicule.
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.” (Ps 58:10–11)
Once the wicked have been punished and removed the righteous will rejoice. Using grizzly imagery, the psalmist says the righteous will ‘bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked’. The wicked will be killed. Their blood spilt. The righteous will look on and rejoice.
The righteous will be rewarded for the way they live. The wicked will be judged and punished.
Story of Israel
“In general, the wicked person was any person who, if carefully examined and tried, would be judged guilty of violations of both the norms of the human society in which he or she lived and of disregard for the will of God. The wicked are always guilty.” (Tate, M. E. (1998). Psalms 51–100 (Vol. 20, p. 86). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)
God is the righteous judge. He will judge the wicked. As a part of his sovereignty and authority, God is executor of his righteousness within the created order.
He judged in Genesis (Gen 18.22-19.29). He judged his people who rebelled against him and sent them into exile (Jer 25:17–27). He will come to judge again (Isa 66.15-24).
Story of Jesus
Jesus is the person who will carry out that judgment. God works through Jesus Christ to judge the world.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:31–46)
The psalmist doesn’t lament the judgment God brings on the wicked. He rejoices in it.
The judgment of the LORD is something we should fear.
It is something that should affect the way we live. Implied in both the psalmist’s words and Jesus’ is the need to review our lives, to repent of any sin and to look forward to when Jesus brings justice to his world.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.