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Psalm 58

Psalm 58 is another Trouble and Trust Psalm within the series of 8 complaint Psalms from 52-59.

Psalm 58 has some of the most difficult Hebrew to understand in the Psalter, both in how specific words should be translated and the understanding of certain phrases.

Vivid description of what the wicked are like                                       V. 1-5

The first hard to translate word is in verse 1, translated by the New King James as “silent ones.” It is the Hebrew word elem, and is only found here!

In cases like this, we have to be humble as to the meaning of the word, and make sure we make much of how the words around it and the context help us understand what is meant.

Instead of living by God’s truth about what is right, the wicked people David is referring to think that they are right because they have gotten away with what they have done, and nobody has stopped them. They embraced pragmatism, “the end justifies the means” and did not reallt believe God would hold them to account one day.  

Psalm 58 has elements of chiastic structure in it. Chiastic structure has parallel words and/or thoughts at the beginning and end, and the verses unfold with parallel thoughts with a middle thought.

Notice the progression of wickedness in verse 2 – first wicked plots are made in the head, and then carried out with the hands.

According to verse 2, the sinful actions people think are okay because they get away with them are actually wickedness in God’s eyes!

We need to judge things using His standard of right and wrong, the Holy Bible – First for ourselves, and then as we call the wicked to repentance.

Verse 3 goes right along with what David taught in Psalm 51:5 – we all have a sin nature that leads to sin choices early in life. Instead of turning to God, the perpetually wicked keep living in sin.

Imprecatory prayer for the destruction of the wicked                      V. 6-11

A toothless snake or lion can still lash out and try to bite you, but can’t do you lasting damage. So David prays that God will de-fang the wicked, make them only able to ‘gum’ at the saints instead of devour them!

Notice David is turning vengeance over to the Lord, and not taking action himself. The Lord may lead us to fight in a just cause and defend ourselves and others, but Old Testament saints weren’t just looking to take matters into their own hands.  

Interestingly, teeth are featured in almost all the Psalms in the Psalm 52-59 series – 52:2; 53:4; 55:21; 56:1-2; 57:4; 58:6; 59:7,12.

What do you think he has in mind by the figures of speech in verse 7?

What do you think he has in mind by the figures of speech in verse 7?

What do you think he has in mind by the figures of speech in verse 7?

Taken together, David is obviously praying for the wicked’s plans to be frustrated, his resources wasted, his instruments of harm to be rendered ineffectual, his movements to be stopped in their tracks, and for their judgment to come.  

Verse 10 reminds us of the difference between the spiritual dispensation we are now living in compared to the age of Old Testament Israel. Israel had physical enemies that would do them harm, and it was a good thing when God gave His people victory over them, and the blood on their feet was the enemy’s blood, not their own. During this age of grace, Christians pray for their enemies to find the same salvation in Christ that they have.

This is also a good place to say that Baptists have always been right to reject the idea of the state and church being tied together in supposedly “Christian” countries.

Christians may serve their country to stop the Adolph Hitler’s of the world, and rejoice when they stop him. But we are leaving the physical defense of Christ’s honor to Christ Himself for when He returns to earth, and as Revelation 20 tells us, the blood of His enemies will again flow.