Psalm 58

The Psalms

Psalm 58
Bad words—theirs and ours

Psalms index

Psalm 58

1 For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy”. Of David. A miktam.

Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men? 2 No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

3 Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. 4 Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, 5 that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skilful the enchanter may be.

6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O LORD, the fangs of the lions! 7 Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted. 8 Like a slug melting away as it moves along, like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun.

9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away. 10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Then men will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”


Psalm 58 – Bad words—theirs and ours

(Verses 1-2) David criticises leaders who pretend to uphold justice but abuse or misuse their powers. Some Bible passages call them ‘gods’ (human and self-made) or ‘judges’. They invent unjust practices and treat people violently. These rulers should repent and ask God to forgive and change them. We too need to turn from our sins, and ask Jesus to forgive and change us.

(Verses 3-5) The sinfulness of the corrupt rulers is described. This is true in principle of us all, being ‘natural’ sinners from birth. We sin so easily. Without Christ we lie. Our words can be like a cobra’s venom, which poisons and harms others. James 3:8 says, ‘no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.’ Some snakes are untameable by a snake charmer. We sinners cannot tame our own tongues in our own strength. Christ can change our language. Left to ourselves we could easily lie, take God’s name in vain, be abusive, use bad language, gossip, insult, and speak unhelpfully. When Jesus died on the cross to bear all our sins and God’s punishment for them, remember that He paid the penalty for all our wrong words too. If you turn from your sins to ask Jesus into your life to become your Lord and Saviour, note that not only must you ‘believe in your heart’ on Jesus, but the result will be that ‘you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.’ (Romans 10:9-10). The first part of your body to show your conversion to Christ is your mouth! What you now will not say, as a Christian, blends well with using your tongue to commend your Lord and Saviour to bless others. When I came to Christ my bad language evaporated. I started to speak up for Jesus—but (still) not enough.

(Verses 6-8) David prays for God to nullify these evil men’s bad words. We must pray for our words to glorify Jesus and help people. May our unworthy language, also, cease to be like lions’ fangs which injure others, vanish like spilled water flowing away, be deprived of their sinful sharpness like arrows that are blunted, and ‘melt’ like a slug on a dry path on a hot day.

(Verses 9-11) David wants to see these wicked men judged by God and die, and the ‘righteous’ ‘avenged’ and ‘rewarded’. We would like to see sinners die to sins and come alive to Christ. That is what the gospel does for those who turn to Christ.