There are many places in the Book of Psalms where the psalmist prays that God will punish the wicked. The psalmist is the person that wrote the psalm. Psalms where the psalmist asks for bad things to happen to people we call ‘Psalms of Imprecation.’ Other psalms of imprecation include parts of 5, 10, 17, 54, 55, 59, 69, 109 and 137. Christians have always found them hard to understand. The important thing to see is that the psalm asks God (not us) to punish people. Saint Augustine wrote 1 600 years ago that here, in this psalm, Christ was speaking to God through the psalmist. 60 years ago, a Christian whose name was Bonhoeffer wrote the same. He wrote ‘Christ prays the psalms.’ Both these men were writing about the Psalms of Imprecation. They tell us that because Jesus was human, he knows how we feel about cruel people. He prays to God (the judge) to punish these cruel people. A judge is someone that decides if a person is good or bad. Bonhoeffer wrote ‘a psalm can become our prayer only because it was Jesus' prayer.’ If we want to do these bad things ourselves to wicked people, then that makes us bad. But if we ask God to punish them, then we are praying with Jesus!
Snakes that Will Not Listen
This is for the music leader.
He must use the music called Do Not Destroy.
It is a
Verses 1-2 Human judges in Israel are bad.
Verses 3-5 They have been bad from birth and will not listen to God.
Verses 6-9 The Imprecation, or prayer that God will destroy the wicked judges.
Verses 10-11 What everybody will say when this happens.
One important thing about Psalm 58 is this. Some of the verses are very hard to translate. Some Bible students say that they cannot translate at least one verse (the end of verse 9)! So if you read other Bible translations, you will find some of the verses very different. For that reason, it is the meaning that is important here, not what the words say.
Do you say what is right when you
Your hands weigh out
As soon as they are born, they start telling
They close their ears like a
– They hurt and kill people like a snake hurts and kills people with its poison
– Like all snakes, they are deaf, but also they will not obey the charmer.
These wicked people are not really deaf, rather, they will not listen to God. God is telling them to do good things, but they do not obey him. The charmer charms the deaf snake by moving about in front of it. Even when God shows them the right thing to do, they do not do it. God cannot ‘charm’ them!
Lord, destroy the teeth of those
· become weak and
· be like grass that dies after people walk on it
· be like a snail that becomes lost as it moves along
· be like a child born dead that does not see the sun.
I want God to blow them away, like the wind would in a bad storm.
– Water when you pour it on the ground – soon it has gone
– Grass that dies – when a lot of people have walked on it
– A baby born much too early – people throw it away and forget it
– A child born dead – it will never see the sun.
These are all pictures that mean this. The wicked judges will die, and not hurt or kill people any more. The last picture is of a pot on a wood fire. David wants something to happen soon – before the fire can warm the pot! He wants God to blow away the wicked judges like the wind blows things away in a bad storm. God does answers prayers like this. History gives us many examples. The thing to remember is this. ‘Soon’ to God may be much longer than ‘soon’ to us! To him 1,000 years is just like a day, Psalm 90:4.
But, in the end, God will answer us when we pray. That will make good people very happy. We find this in verses 10-11. ‘They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked’ is a line many people do not like. It just means that the wicked will die and the righteous will not! Some translations have ‘They will wash the blood of the wicked off their feet.’ Here, ‘the blood of the wicked’ would be the bad things that the wicked judges did – or weighed out – to the good people.
They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked!