Psalm 58:2
Yes, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.
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(2) In heart . . . in the earth (or, better, in the land).—These in the text are in antithesis. The mischief conceived in the heart is weighed out, instead of justice, by these unjust magistrates. The balance of justice is thus turned into a means of wrong-doing. But, perhaps, we should rather arrange as follows:

Nay! with your heart ye work wickedness in the land,

With your hands you weigh out violence.

Psalm 58:2. Yea, in heart ye work wickedness — Or, with your heart, that is, with free choice and consent; with premeditation and design, and with a strong inclination to it, and resolution in it, and not merely by constraint, and out of compliance with Saul, or through surprise and inadvertence. The more there is of the heart in any act of wickedness, the worse it is. Ye weigh the violence of your hands — Or, you weigh violence, or injustice, with your hands. The phrase of weighing hath respect to their office, which was to administer justice, which is usually expressed by a pair of balances. So he intimates that they did great wrong under the pretence and with the formalities of justice; and while they seemed exactly to weigh the true proportion between men’s actions and the recompenses allotted to them, they turned the scale, and pronounced an unjust sentence. In the earth — Or, in this land, where God is present, and where you have righteous laws to govern you, and you profess better things.58:1-5 When wrong is done under the form of law, it is worse than any other; especially it is grievous to behold those who profess to be children of God, joining together against any of his people. We should thank the Lord for merciful restraints; we should be more earnest in seeking renewing grace, more watchful over ourselves, and more patient under the effects of fallen nature in others. The corruption of their nature was the root of bitterness. We may see in children the wickedness of the world beginning. They go astray from God and their duty as soon as possibly they can. And how soon will little children tell lies! It is our duty to take pains to teach them, and above all, earnestly to pray for converting grace to make our children new creatures. Though the poison be within, much of it may be kept from breaking forth to injure others. When the Saviour's words are duly regarded, the serpent becomes harmless. But those who refuse to hear heavenly wisdom, must perish miserably, for ever.Yea, in heart ye work wickedness - Whatever might be the outward appearances, whatever pretences they might make to just judgment, yet in fact their hearts were set on wickedness, and they were conscious of doing wrong.

Ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth - It is difficult to attach any meaning to this language; the translators evidently felt that they could not express the meaning of the original; and they, therefore, gave what seems to be a literal translation of the Hebrew. The Septuagint renders it, "In heart you work iniquity in the land; your hands weave together iniquity." The Latin Vulgate: "In heart you work iniquity; in the land your hands prepare injustice." Luther: "Yea, willingly do you work iniquity in the land, and go straight through to work evil with your hands." Professor Alexander: "In the land, the violence of your hands ye weigh." Perhaps the true translation of the whole verse would be, "Yea, in heart ye work iniquity in the land; ye weigh (weigh out) the violence of your hands;" that is, the deeds of violence or wickedness which your hands commit. The idea of "weighing" them, or "weighing them out," is derived from the administration of justice. In all lands people are accustomed to speak of "weighing out" justice; to symbolize its administration by scales and balances; and to express the doing of it as holding an even balance. Compare Job 31:6, note; Daniel 5:27, note; Revelation 6:5, note. Thus interpreted, this verse refers, as Psalm 58:1, to the act of pronouncing judgment; and the idea is that instead of pronouncing a just judgment - of holding an equal balance - they determined in favor of violence - of acts of oppression and wrong to be committed by their own hands. That which they weighed out, or dispensed, was not a just sentence, but violence, wrong, injustice, crime.

2. This they did not design; but

weigh … violence—or give decisions of violence. Weigh is a figure to express the acts of judges.

in the earth—publicly.

In heart; or, with your heart; with free choice and consent, and not only by constraint, and out of compliance with Saul.

Ye weigh the violence of your hands; or, you weigh violence or injustice with your hands. The phrase of weighing hath respect to their office, which was to administer justice, which is usually expressed by a pair of balances. So he intimates that they did great wrong under the pretence and with the formalities of justice; and whilst they scented exactly to weigh and consider the true and fit proportion between the actions and the recompences allotted to them, they turned the scale; and partly to curry favour with Saul, and partly from their own malice against David, pronounced an unjust sentence against him. In the earth; or, in this land, where God is present, and where you have righteous laws to govern you, and you profess better things. Yea, in heart ye work wickedness,.... So far were they from speaking righteousness, and judging uprightly. The heart of man is wickedness itself; it is desperately wicked, and is the shop in which all wickedness is wrought; for sinful acts are committed there as well as by the tongue and hand, as follows. This phrase also denotes their sinning; not with precipitancy, and through surprise; but with premeditation and deliberation; and their doing it heartily, with good will, and with allowance, and their continuance and constant persisting in it;

ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth; they were guilty of acts of violence and oppression, which, of all men, judges should not be guilty of; whose business it is to plead the cause of the injured and oppressed, to right their wrongs, and to protect and defend them: these they pretended to weigh in the balance of justice and equity, and committed them under a show of righteousness; they decreed unrighteous decrees, and framed mischief by a law; and this they did openly, and everywhere, throughout the whole land.

Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of {b} your hands in the earth.

(b) You are not ashamed to execute that cruelty publicly, which you have imagined in your hearts.

2. Yea] Or, Nay, for the particle implies a negative answer, and an additional accusation. Far from judging equitably, you are yourselves the greatest offenders.

in heart] Inwardly they are ever contriving some scheme of injustice, like the nobles against whom Micah inveighs (Psalm 2:1), as “working evil upon their beds.”

ye weigh] R.V., ye weigh out. There is a bitter irony in the use of a word strictly applicable to justice only. For the metaphor of the ‘scales of justice’ cp. Job 31:6.

in the earth] Or, in the land; publicly and openly, carrying into execution the schemes they contrive in their hearts. Cp. Micah 2:1.Verse 2. - Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; literally, wickednesses, or iniquities. These ye first devise in your heart, and then (see the next clause) carry out with your hands. Ye weigh (or, weigh out) the violence of your hands in the earth. Instead of carefully meting out justice to men, after accurately weighing it in the balance of right and equity, you weigh out to them mere wrong and "violence." In this second half of the Psalm the poet refreshes himself with the thought of seeing that for which he longs and prays realized even with the dawning of the morning after this night of wretchedness. The perfect in Psalm 57:7 is the perfect of certainty; the other perfects state what preceded and is now changed into the destruction of the crafty ones themselves. If the clause כּפף נפשׁי is rendered: my soul was bowed down (cf. חלל, Psalm 109:22), it forms no appropriate corollary to the crafty laying of snares. Hence kpp must be taken as transitive: he had bowed down my soul; the change of number in the mention of the enemies is very common in the Psalms relating to these trials, whether it be that the poet has one enemy κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν before his mind or comprehends them all in one. Even the lxx renders καὶ κατέκαμψαν τὴν ψυχὴν μου, it is true, as though it were וכפפו, but can scarcely have read it thus. This line is still remarkable; one would expect for Psalm 57:7 a thought parallel with Psalm 57:7, and perhaps the poet wrote כפף נפשׁו, his (the net-layer's) own soul bends (viz., in order to fall into the net). Then כפף like נפל would be praet. confidentiae. In this certainty, to express which the music here becomes triumphantly forte, David's heart is confident, cheerful (Symmachus ἐδραία), and a powerful inward impulse urges him to song and harp. Although נכון may signify ready, equipped (Exodus 34:2; Job 12:5), yet this meaning is to be rejected here in view of Psalm 51:12, Psalm 78:37, Psalm 112:7 : it is not appropriate to the emphatic repetition of the word. His evening mood which found expression in Psalm 57:4, was hope of victory; the morning mood into which David here transports himself, is certainty of victory. He calls upon his soul to awake (כּבודי as in Psalm 16:9; Psalm 30:13), he calls upon harp and cithern to awake (הנּבל וכנּור with one article that avails for both words, as in Jeremiah 29:3; Nehemiah 1:5; and עוּרה with the accent on the ultima on account of the coming together of two aspirates), from which he has not parted even though a fugitive; with the music of stringed instruments and with song he will awake the not yet risen dawn, the sun still slumbering in its chamber: אעירה, expergefaciam (not expergiscar), as e.g., in Sol 2:7, and as Ovid (Metam. xi. 597) says of the cock, evocat auroram.

(Note: With reference to the above passage in the Psalms, the Talmud, B. Berachoth 3b, says, "A cithern used to hang above David's bed; and when midnight came, the north wind blew among the strings, so that they sounded of themselves; and forthwith he arose and busied himself with the Tra until the pillar of the dawn (עמוד השׁחר) ascended." Rashi observes, "The dawn awakes the other kings; but I, said David, will awake the dawn (אני מעורר את השׁחר).")

His song of praise, however, shall not resound in a narrow space where it is scarcely heard; he will step forth as the evangelist of his deliverance and of his Deliverer in the world of nations (בעמּים; and the parallel word, as also in Psalm 108:4; Psalm 149:7, is to be written בּלעמּים with Lamed raphatum and Metheg before it); his vocation extends beyond Israel, and the events of his life are to be for the benefit of mankind. Here we perceive the self-consciousness of a comprehensive mission, which accompanied David from the beginning to the end of his royal career (vid., Psalm 18:50). What is expressed in v. 11 is both motive and theme of the discourse among the peoples, viz., God's mercy and truth which soar high as the heavens (Psalm 36:6). That they extend even to the heavens is only an earthly conception of their infinity (cf. Ephesians 3:18). In the refrain, v. 12, which only differs in one letter from Psalm 57:6, the Psalm comes back to the language of prayer. Heaven and earth have a mutually involved history, and the blessed, glorious end of this history is the sunrise of the divine doxa over both, here prayed for.

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