Psalm 58

The Word Made Fresh

(To the worship leaders: To the tune of “Do not Destroy.” A song of David.)

1Do you rulers make rules that are just?
Do you judge people fairly?
2No! You know in your hearts that you are unjust.
You are responsible for violence in the world.
3The wicked are evil from birth.
From birth they are prone to lie.
4They are filled with poison like the venom of a serpent,
or like the deaf adder that refuses to hear,
5and cannot fall prey to the voice of charmers
or the beguiling conjuror.
6Break the teeth in their mouths, God!
Tear out the young lions’ fangs, LORD!
7Let them disappear like water flowing away.
When they draw their bows, blunt their arrows.
8Let them be like snails that wallow in their own slime,
or like a stillborn baby that never sees the light of day.
9Quicker than a pot can feel the heat of the blaze,
let the wicked ones be swept away.
10The righteous will be glad when they are avenged
and can walk in the blood of the wicked.
11Then people will say, “Yes, the righteous are rewarded.
Yes, there is a God who judges the earth.


Superscription: David’s 45th psalm, the 4th “Miktam,” and the 2nd time we are told, “Do not Destroy.”

1-2: Even in Biblical times people in power were often corrupt. Some translations refer to “gods” in verse 1, but this is not a reference to divine beings, rather to human ones. Other translations have “mighty lords” or “rulers” instead of “gods,” for example.

3-5: The author imagines that some people are born wicked. I am not at all sure I agree with his assessment, but that is how it seems to him. He compares them to certain varieties of snakes, poisonous from birth, that are not subject to the influence of the arts of snake charmers.

6-9: He prays that God will do violence to such people. This is not a nice psalm, but it is certainly a good example of what we all feel when wicked people use their power to hurt others.

10-12: If only God would punish the wicked, then good people would see that being good is rewarded.


We might argue that righteousness should be its own reward, but it is good to occasionally see the crooked politician get caught and the honest hard-working single mom rewarded.