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We should note again that God’s hymnbook, the psalter, is just full of enemies. Our modern hymnbooks very rarely encounter anything like that. A central part of the reason is that we have worked out a truce with the devil. We don’t have to deal with him attacking us, for we have agreed not to attack him. If we really were to attack him, we would have tumults to sing about soon enough.
To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David.
“Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? . . .” (Ps. 58:1-11)
Summary of the Text
The psalm can be divided into three sections. In the first, the ungodly enemy is indicted (vv. 1-5). In the second, a just judgment from God is sought (vv. 6-8). In the last, David sees the answer to his prayer by faith (vv. 9-11). David begins by challenging the majority. What the whole congregation knows is not necessarily so (v. 1). The heart of man is an underground forge, in which violence and wickedness is crafted (v. 2). Wickedness begins in the womb; evil men rejoice when they are born—so that they can start learning how to lie (v. 3). Their lies are not harmless, but rather full of venom (v. 4). External tricks and charms will not restrain them (v. 5). They will not be reasoned with, and so David asks God to bust out their teeth (v. 6). Let them be like water running into parched earth (v. 7). Shatter their weapons, O Lord (v. 7). Let them melt like a slug in the sun (v. 8). Let them come to nothing, like an abortion (v. 8). David then exults in the approaching answer to his prayer. Before the cauldron of the wicked heats up, the whirlwind of God shall take them away alive (v. 9). The righteous man does not flinch when he sees this—he rejoices to walk over the battle field after the victory (v. 10). What is the conclusion? Surely the righteous are reward (v. 11), and surely there is a God who judges in the earth (v. 11).
This psalm provides a strong contrast between the judgments of men (v. 1) and the judgments of God (v. 11). Does man judge uprightly? No. Does God? Yes. What do men speak from their heart of hearts? Lies. What does God speak from His heart of hearts? The truth.
So let us begin with the curse. These are not private slanders that David is dealing with. These are lies parading as righteous judgments in the congregation. These are appalling untruths uttered from behind the bench, with the acclaim of the sons of men. For just one example among far too many, the men who voted to establish Roe v. Wade were Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, Warren Burger, William Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis Powell and Potter Stewart. All of these men have gone out of this life to settle their accounts with God. They don’t have a black robe anymore and, even if they did, a robe will protect no man if it is soaked with the blood any innocents other than Jesus (Rev. 7:14. What would any of those men give now to revisit that damnable vote?
Now, when the Lord judges, what will He judge? He will judge the pretence of righteousness (v. 1). He will judge the hidden forge of malice (v. 2). He will judge the lies involved, including convoluted reasoning learned in order to pass the bar (v. 3). He will judge the poison (v. 4). He will judge the refusal to listen (v. 5). How will He judge? He will break out their teeth (v. 6), shatter their weapons (v. 7), cause them to melt away (vv. 7-8), and bring them to an abortive end (v. 8). God judges before their pot heats up (v. 9). Every unconverted man is an abortion—not able to grow up to the restored image of God in Christ.
No Endless Discussions
Truth is determined by what God says, not by what the general consensus is. Justice is determined by how God would judge a case, not by what we might think while groping our way. When we hear the phrase final judgment (which we do too rarely), we sometimes rush to the judgment side of it. But we really need to remember that it is final. Everything gets settled.
Early Morning Lies
Whenever you get up early in the morning for a trip, by the end of the day, you will have been able to go a long way. So when you rise early in your life to tell lies, by the time you are done, you have traveled long down that road. But here is the hard truth—this is the human dilemma. As Paul reminds us in Romans 3, no one seeks after truth. But God be praised, the truth seeks after us. That is grace.
Afraid of Victory
The liberal is one who doesn’t feel up to taking up his own side in anything. If this is at all accurate, many so-called conservatives are actually liberals. We have been far more affected by the spirit of the age than most of us know. If we hear anyone pray to the Lord, “Break out their teeth, O Lord, and don’t leave them with any,” our first reaction is to rush to the cautionary warning that they probably don’t know what spirit they are of (Luke 9:55). Okay, so maybe they don’t. But do we know what spirit we are of ? Like so many castrated roosters, we greet the morning sun like Knox, and Luther, and Huss, but we are just a cluster of capons for all that. Never confound personal desire to retaliate, which is prohibited to us, with in God’s vengeance (v. 10).
Two Things to Keep in Mind
We are told in Scripture that the man who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of the one who diligently seeks Him (Heb. 11:6). We find the same kind of thing here in this psalm. A man should be able to say two things about God. First, that there is a God who judges in the earth, and second, that He brings with Him a reward for the righteous.