March 26: Psalm 58
Accountability for those who judge
Common Meter double 86.86 D Ellacombe (Hosanna, Loud Hosanna), p. 130
Kingsfold, p. 60
Do you, indeed O rulers, claim that you speak righteousness?
And do you judge the sons of men in truth and uprightness?
No, even in your very heart you wickedness produce;
On earth you weigh out with your hands your violent abuse.
The wicked from their day of birth are strangers to the way;
They from the womb come speaking lies; they wander far astray.
They have the venom of a snake; they have an adder’s ear
Which they have closed to charmers’ songs; skilled charmers they’ll not hear.
O God, inside their opened mouths break off their cruel teeth;
The fangs of these young lions, Lord, tear out by roots beneath.
Let them like run-off waters be that leave the ground soon dry.
Let arrows that he aims become like headless shafts that fly.
Let them be like the snails that melt along the course they run;
Or like one prematurely born who never sees the sun.
They are like blazing thorns which you beneath your kettles lay,
Whose heat is scarcely felt before a wind sweeps them away.
The just rejoices when he sees that vengeance is complete,
For in the blood of wicked men he then will wash his feet.
They’ll say, “There surely is reward for righteous ones of worth;
There surely is a living God who judges on the earth.”
Modern people like to view God as a God without thunder, broadminded, reasonable and, above all, nonjudgmental. A major problem with this is the loss of any sense that human existence is answerable to a higher moral throne that takes seriously such old-fashioned matters as doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly. Without that abiding sense that it must eventually render an account of its earthly stewardship to a God very serious on points of justice, mercy, and humility, our society is losing its way upon the earth. A chief deficiency of this new, completely benign godhead was that no one could any longer say of Him, for sure, that “He will come again in glory to judge.” American society, thus cut loose from its moral mooring, now feels itself free to seek, not the Kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, but selfish materialism and other delights of the American dream. Psalm 58 is one of those thunderous psalms (as is Psalm 82) of the Bible that enunciate unmistakable distinctions between the right and the wrong, and make some mention of plagues affixed to the wrong. This psalm is chock full of hatred of evil, arrogance, injustice, and hardness of heart. This is a very, very judgmental psalm. We must attune our ear to the voice of thunder: “Surely there is a God who judges the earth.” (Reardon, p. 113-114)