Psalm 58:3
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) The Wicked.—The poet passes from his indignant challenge to the unjust judges to speak of the wicked generally. He finds that such maturity of vice points to very early depravity. Such hardened sinners must have been cradled in wickedness.

Psalm 58:3. The wicked are estranged — From God, and from all goodness; from the womb — From their tender years, or, rather, strictly and properly, from their birth: their very natures and principles are corrupt even from their infancy: they are the wicked offspring of sinful parents. They go astray by actual sins, the fruit of their original corruption; as soon as they are born — As soon as ever they are capable of the exercise of reason, and the practice of sinning.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.The wicked are estranged from the womb - The allusion here undoubtedly is to the persons principally referred to in the psalm - the enemies of David. But their conduct toward him suggests a more general reflection in regard to "all" the wicked as having the same characteristics. The psalmist, therefore, instead of confining his remarks to them, makes his observations general, on the principle that all wicked men have essentially the same character, and especially in respect to the thing here affirmed, that they go astray early; that they are apostate and alienated from God from their very birth. The words, "the wicked," here do not necessarily refer to the whole human family (though what is thus affirmed is true of all the human race), but to people who in their lives develop a wicked character; and the affirmation in regard to them is that they go astray early in life - from their very infancy.

Strictly speaking, therefore, it cannot be shown that the psalmist in this declaration had reference to the whole human race, or that he meant to make a universal declaration in regard to man as being early estranged or alienated from God; and the passage, therefore, cannot directly, and with exact propriety, be adduced to prove the doctrine that "original sin" pertains to all the race - whatever may be true on that point. If, however, it is demonstrated from "other" passages, and from facts, that all men "are" "wicked" or depraved, then the assertion here becomes a proof that this is from the womb - from their very birth - that they begin life with a propensity to evil - and that all their subsequent acts are but developments of the depravity or corruption with which they are born. It is only, therefore, after it is proved that people "are" depraved or "wicked," that this passage can be cited in favor of the doctrine of original sin.

The word rendered are "estranged" - זרוּ zorû - means properly, "to go off, to turn aside," or "away, to depart;" and then it comes to mean "to be strange," or "a stranger." The proper idea in the word is that one is a stranger, or a foreigner, and the word would be properly applied to one of another tribe or nation, like the Latin "hostis," and the Greek ξείνος xeinos. Exodus 30:33; Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 25:2; Isaiah 29:5; Psalm 44:20. The meaning of the term as thus explained is, that, from earliest childhood, they are "as if" they belonged to another people than the people of God; they manifest another spirit; they are governed by other principles than those which pertain to the righteous. Compare Ephesians 2:19. Their first indications of character are not those of the children of God, but are "alien, strange, hostile" to him. The phrase "from the womb," refers, undoubtedly, to their birth; and the idea is, that as soon as they begin to act they act wrong; they show that they are strangers to God. Strictly speaking, this passage does not affirm anything directly of what exists in the heart "before" people begin to act, for it is by their "speaking lies" that they show their estrangement; yet it is proper to "infer" that where this is universal, there "is" something lying back of this which makes it certain that they "will" act thus - just as when a tree always bears the same kind of fruit, we infer that there is something "in" the tree, back of the actual "bearing" of the fruit, which makes it certain that it "will" bear such fruit and no other. This "something" in the heart of a child is what is commonly meant by "original sin."

They go astray - The Hebrew word used here means to go astray, to wander, to err. It is used in reference to drunken persons who reel, Isaiah 28:7; and to the soul, as erring or wandering from the paths of truth and piety, Ezekiel 48:11; Psalm 95:10; Psalm 119:110; Proverbs 21:16. The "manner" in which the persons here referred to did this, is indicated here by their "speaking lies."

As soon as they be born - Margin, as in Hebrew, "from the belly." The meaning is, not that they speak lies "as soon as" they are born, which could not be literally true, but that this is the "first act." The first thing "done" is not an act of holiness, but an act of sin - showing what is in the heart.

Speaking lies - They are false in their statements; false in their promises; false in their general character. This is one of the forms of sin, indicating original depravity; and it is undoubtedly selected here because this was particularly manifested by the enemies of David. They were false, perfidious, and could not be trusted. If it be proved, therefore, that all people are wicked, then "this" passage becomes a proper and an important text to demonstrate that this wickedness is not the result of temptation or example, but that it is the expression of the depravity of the heart by nature; that the tendency of man by nature is not to goodness, but to sin; that the first developments of character are sinful; that there is something lying of sinful acts in people which makes it certain that they will act as they do; and that this always manifests itself in the first acts which they perform.

3-5. describe the wicked generally, who sin naturally, easily, malignantly, and stubbornly. Estranged, to wit, from God, Ephesians 4:18, and from all goodness.

From the womb; either,

1. Hyperbolically; even from their tender years. Or,

2. Strictly and properly. So the sense is, No wonder they act so unrighteously, for their very natures and principles are corrupt, even from their birth; they are the wicked offspring of sinful parents. And this hereditary and native corruption, though too common to all men, he particularly ascribes to these men; either because their immediate parents were such as did not only convey a corrupt nature to them, but greatly improved it by wicked counsel and example; or because they themselves had improved that stock of original corruption, and instead of mortifying it, had made it their great design and constant business to gratify and obey it.

They go astray, by actual sins, the fruit of their original sin, as soon as they be born; from their childhood, as soon as ever they were capable of the exercise of reason, and the practice of sinning. The wicked are estranged from the womb,.... Which original corruption of nature accounts for all the wickedness done by men: they are conceived in sin, shapen in iniquity, and are transgressors from the womb; they are alienated from God, and from that godly life which is agreeable to him, and he requires; and from the knowledge and fear of him, and love to him; and they desire not the knowledge of him nor his ways; they are far from his law, and averse to it; and still more so to the Gospel of Christ; the doctrines of which, as well as the great things written in the law, are strange things to them; and they are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, estranged from the people of God, know nothing of them, neither of their joys, nor of their sorrows;

they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies; they are wicked from their infancy, from their youth upward; and sin, which is meant by "going astray", as soon as they are capable of it, and which is very early. Sin soon appears in the temper and actions of then; they go out of God's way, and turn everyone to their own way, and walk in the broad road which leads to destruction: and particularly they are very early guilty of lying; as soon as they can speak, and before they can speak plain, they lisp out lies, which they learn from their father the devil, who is the father of lies; and so they continue all their days strangers to divine things, going astray from God, the God of truth, continually doing abominations and speaking lies; which continuance in these things makes the difference between reprobate men and God's elect; for though the latter are the same by nature as the former, yet their natures are restrained, before conversion, from going into all the sins they are inclined to; and if not, yet at conversion a stop is put to their progress in iniquity.

The wicked {c} are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

(c) That is, enemies to the people of God even from their birth.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. are estranged] From God and His laws. Cp. Ephesians 4:18, “alienated from the life of God”: Colossians 1:21, “alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works,” where St Paul uses the word (ἀπῃλλοτριωμένοι) employed by the LXX here.

“The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21); but these men have shewn a more than ordinary aptitude for wickedness. It has become to them a second nature.

3–5. A description of the class to which these wicked judges belong; the deliberately wicked, who are deaf to remonstrance and incapable of reformation.Verse 3. - The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. This is the language of hyperbole, and is certainly not the profession of the doctrine of original sin. What the psalmist means is that those who ultimately become heinous sinners, for the most part show, even from their early childhood, a strong tendency towards evil. He implies that with others the case is different. Though there may be in them a corruption of nature (Psalm 51:6), yet, on the whole, they have good dispositions, and present a contrast to the ungodly ones whom he is describing. 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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