Psalm 58
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
There is a contrast in this psalm between the unjust judges of the earth, and God the righteous Judge of all men (vers. 1, 2, and ver. 11). "Do ye really, O ye gods, speak righteousness? Do ye in uprightness judge the children of men? Nay, in heart ye work iniquities, in the land ye weigh out the violence of your hands" (Delitzsch). This indignant protest is just. Judges have often been false to their trust. They have prostituted their power to selfish ends. They have increased instead of diminished the evils of society, and made confusion worse confounded by their wicked deeds. There are signal examples of this in the Bible, and though the lines have fallen unto us, in these last days, in pleasant places, our fathers, in the days of Bonner and Jeffries and Claverhouse, and in days of persecution, suffered grievously. But how different is it with God the Judge of all the earth! His judgments are all righteous. Even the wicked cannot complain. In their punishment they only receive, as their own consciences testify, "the just reward of their deeds." Our attention is specially concentrated on the wicked.

I. THEIR CHARACTER IS PORTRAYED. (Vers. 1-5.) Character is a growth. No man becomes of a sudden either very bad or very good. There is gradation - "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." We are shown wickedness in its germ. It has its source in a bad heart - a heart not right with God. From within it works toward without. Evil may for a time be concealed or held in check, but it is sure to show itself. People may be worse than they seem. God only knows the evil that lies hidden and rooted in the heart. Then we see wickedness in its development. It has been said that "tongue sins are our first transgressions." But how quickly do we proceed from "lies" to other and more flagrant forms of wickedness! The more the will of the flesh is indulged, the stronger it becomes. The poison spreads through all the veins.

"The soul grows clothed by contagion,
Imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The Divine property of her first being."

(Milton) Then cometh the consummation. All checks and warnings and remonstrances are in vain. Men become "more deaf than adders to the voice of true decision." Like Saul, they choose the evil instead of the good. Like Rehoboam, they persist in their sins. Like Ahab, they sell themselves to work iniquity. Like Israel, they harden their hearts against all teaching and rebuke, till in the end there is no remedy (2 Chronicles 36:16).

II. THEIR JUDGMENT IS PREDICTED. (Vers. 6-11.) God is long suffering and merciful. How excellent his counsels! how tender his rebukes I how gracious his calls to repentance! But when evil men knowingly and obstinately persist in their evil ways, judgment must be done. The psalmist adds image to image to strengthen the argument, and to set forth the more vividly the awful doom of the wicked.

1. Judgment, is required in the interests of humanity. In all good governments there are laws for the protection of society. If evil doers will not repent, they must be restrained. Their power to do injury must be stopped.

2. Besides, judgment is demanded in accordance with righteousness. There is nothing arbitrary in the procedure. Even evil must be dealt with fairly.

3. Judgment also is necessary for the vindication of Goers truth. There is a moral necessity why it should be "ill with the wicked." "God is not a man, that he should lie." But evil on itself shall back recoil, And mix no more with goodness, when at last. Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself, It shall be in eternal restless change, Self-fed and self-consumed; if this fail, The pillar'd firmament is rottenness, And earth's base built on stubble. (Milton.) W.F.


1. Wicked within and, without. (Vers. 1, 2.) In heart and deed.

2. Wicked by nature and by habit. (Ver. 3.) Go astray all their lives.

3. Incorrigible. (Ver. 4.) Like the adder that will not be turned by the voice of the charmer.


1. They shall be rendered powerless in their designs. (Vers. 6-9.) All the figures in vers. 6-9 mean this.

2. They shall become the objects of God's righteous vengeance. (Vers. 9, 10.)

3. The victims of their wickedness shall see their overthrow, and rejoice in it. (Vers. 10, 11.) They shall rejoice that there is a God that judgeth among men. - S.

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