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Psalm 58 by Alexander Maclaren

Psalm 58 by Alexander Maclaren

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Published by glennpease
PSALM LVIII.

1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O ye gods t
In uprightness do ye judge the sons of men ?
PSALM LVIII.

1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O ye gods t
In uprightness do ye judge the sons of men ?

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 20, 2013
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PSALM 58 BY ALEXADER MACLAREPSALM LVIII.1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O ye gods tIn uprightness do ye judge the sons of men ?2 Yea, in heart ye work iniquity ;In the earth ye weigh out the violence of your hands*3 The wicked are estranged from the womb :Gone astray from birth are the speakers of lies.4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent,Like the deaf adder that stops its ear,5 That will not hearken to the voice of the charmer*,The skilled weaver of spells.6 O God, break their teeth in their mouth :The grinders of the young lions wrench out, Jehovah.7 Let them melt like waters [that] run themselves [dry] :[When] he shoots his arrows, let them be as if pointless.8 [Let them be] as a slug that dissolves as it crawls :As the premature birth of a woman, [that] has not seen the sub.9 Before your pots feel the thorns,Whether it be green or burning, He shall whirl it away.10 The righteous shall rejoice that he has beheld [the] vengeance :His footsteps shall he bathe in the blood of the wicked.11 And men shall say, Surely there is fruit for the righteous :
 
Surely there is a God judging in the earth.THIS psalmist's fiery indignation against unjust judges and evil-doers generally is not kindled bypersonal wrongs. The psalm comes hot from a heartlacerated by the sight of widespread corruption, and con-strained to seek for patience in the thought of the swiftsweeping away of evil men before their plans are effected.Stern triumph in the punitive manifestations of God's190 THE PSALMSrule, and keen sense of the need of such, are its key-notes. Vehement emotion stirs the poet's imaginationto heap together strong and, in part, obscure metaphors.Here emphatically " Indignatio facit versus." Thepsalm is Dantesque in its wealth of sombre imagina-tion, which produces the most solemn effects with thehomeliest metaphors, and in its awed and yet satisfiedcontemplation of the fate of evil-doers. It parts itself into three portions, — a dark picture of abounding evil(w. 1-5) ; its punishment prayed for (vv. 6-9) ; andthe consequent joy of the righteous and widespreadrecognition of the rule of a just God (w. 10, 11).The abrupt question of ver. 1 speaks of long pent-up indignation, excited by protracted experience of injustice, and anticipates the necessary negative answerwhich follows. The word rendered by the A.V- andR.V- " in silence " or " dumb " can scarcely be twistedinto intelligibility, and the small alteration of readingrequired for the rendering " gods " is recommended bythe similar expressions in the kindred Psalm lxxxii.Taken thus, the question is hurled at the appointeddepositaries of judicial power and supreme authority.There is no need to suppose, with Hupfeld and others,
 
whom Cheyne follows, that these "gods" are super-natural beings intrusted with the government of theworld. The explanation of the name lies in theconception of such power as bestowed by God, and insome sense a delegation of His attribute; or, as ourLord explained the similar name in Psalm lxxxii. asgiven because "to them the word of God came." Itsets in sinister light the flagrant contradiction betweenthe spirit in which these men exercised their officeand the source from which they derived it, and thussharpens the reproach of the question. The answer islviii.] THE PSALMS 191introduced by a particle conveying a strong oppositionto the previous supposition couched in the question."Heart" and "hands" are so obviously antithetical,that the alteration of " in heart " to " ye all " is notacceptable, though it removes the incongruity of plansbeing wrought in the heart, the seat of devices, not of actions. "Work" may be here used anomalously, aswe say "work out," implying the careful preparationof a plan, and there may even be a hint that the trueacts are the undone acts of the heart. The unaccom-plished purpose is a deed, though never clothed inoutward fact. Evil determined is, in a profound sense,done before it is done ; and, in another equally solemn,not done when " 'tis done," as Macbeth has taught us.The " act," as men call it, follows : " In the earth " — not only in the heart — " ye weigh out the violence of your hands." The scales of justice are untrue. Insteadof dispensing equity, as they were bound to do, theyclash into the balance the weight of their own violence.It is to be noted that the psalm says no more aboutthe sins of unjust authorities, but passes on to describethe " wicked " generally. The transition may suggestthat under unjust rulers all wrongdoers find impunity,and so multiply and worsen ; or it may simply be that

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