Psalm 58 is another of the psalms in which David had difficult dealings with Saul. In this case, his anger is kindled against the leaders in Israel who either stood by silently or agreed with Saul when David was wrongfully accused. The idea in the psalm is that judgment had been perverted and these leaders had turned their backs on their responsibility as judges to uphold truth. They were dishonest and deceitful in their dealings.
This, of course, is not at all uncommon in the hierarchy of government. Who among us is not often angry at the inequities of our rulers? It is a sad commentary on American politics when the Congress of the United States regularly hovers around less than 20% approval ratings. Most believe Congress is a band of thieves that are more concerned about their job security and their pocketbooks than they are about the constituents they serve. Whatever it takes to get elected, they will do. If this means perverting justice, so be it.
In the third verse, David reveals the source of the corruption. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” The source is natural depravity. We come into the world with a sinful nature, and we speak lies with the first breath we take. It is no wonder politicians have perfected the art of lying—they’ve had all their lives to practice! Some have stated the depravity of politicians this way: Question, “How do you know a politician is lying?” Answer, “He opens his mouth.” This is an old joke, but it is certainly biblical. However, this truth is not confined to politicians. All of us are this way. We all have inherent sinful corruption, which is the reason we so desperately need a Saviour. The person who is wicked from the womb has also perfected the art of sin as he daily rehearses his art form.
Yet out of this abject sinfulness of our nature, and our will, and our practice, we are told sinners can elevate themselves and they can do better. The lies of the toothy grinned preacher who teaches such things is no better than the lies of the politician with all his broken promises.
Man is a woefully depraved creature who must be handled by God. The righteous Judge will always deal righteously, so He will remove these sinners from their haughty perches and bring them before His own tribunal. There, perfect justice is served. Verse 10 is strikingly vindictive in its assessment of this: “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” This does not sound much like the “Christian” attitude of love and tolerance. Accordingly, we must remember that in the present time we are not to rejoice in the eternal punishment of the wicked. However, when the Lord comes in glory, we will see the perfect justice of God at work and regard His judgment against the reprobate as a merciful act towards His own people.
There are many that disagree with David’s call for justice. People who sympathize with criminals more than with their victims really have a problem with this. They are freakishly concerned that a criminal must not suffer one ounce of pain in his execution rather than commiserating with a victim that may have been cruelly tortured. This is the world turned upside down according to godly justice. As one commentator stated, “It is sickly sentimentality and a wicked weakness that has more sympathy with the corrupt oppressors than with the anger of God.”
The real issue here is weak Christianity, or absent Christianity, that does not understand the exalted holiness of God in contradistinction to the utterly debased condition of man. I think David had it right. The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart, and he certainly had his finger on God’s pulse in this matter.
Pastor V. Mark Smith