May 24 2023
Today, Wednesday May 24
Unjust and Abusive Leaders
To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘Do Not Destroy.’ A Michtam of David.
“Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men?
No, in heart you work wickedness; You weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth.
The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; They are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear, Which will not heed the voice of charmers, Charming ever so skillfully.”
Psalm 58 is another of David's Michtam Psalms, one written to be engraved upon the mind and conscience. It was a Psalm to be remembered with an important lesson. This psalm carries a footnote addressing it to the chief Musician which indicated it is to be incorporated into the repertoire of the temple choir. The songs we sing on Sunday or in times of worship become a constant reminder throughout the rest of the week of the subject and theme of the song.
Also, as in the previous two Psalms, it carries the words, "Destroy not!" This could mean several things. It could be saying, “Don’t destroy this Psalm as it has a very important prayer and message”. It could also be saying, “Don’t destroy the righteous people of the land or let them be destroyed by the wicked and unjust people.” Prophetically, it might be a reminder that God will not destroy the Israelite nation as they are His covenant people. With all these signals flashing we can be sure that this is an important intersection as we journey through the psalms.
Psalm 58 is a psalm about injustice and about the abuse of judicial power. It is impossible to say exactly when David wrote it. It is possible that it was written during David's exile years when he was fleeing from the wrath of a jealous King Saul. Remember Saul reigned for 40 years and during those years he led the nation down a path of political and spiritual ruin as he disobeyed God's law and opposed God's anointed king. Saul was surrounded by a group of fawning flatterers who fed his ego and catered to his foolish whims (1 Sam. 22:6ff), and he put into places of authority people who used their offices for personal gain and not for the national good. They wanted to get as much as they could before the kingdom collapsed.
They could be compared to the bureaucracy in our country today. This is the non-elected governing officials, and administrative policy-making group of people that obviously have their own agenda and who have become corrupt and are running and ruining our beloved America behind the scenes.
David himself had been treated illegally, and it's likely that many of his men lost all they had because they followed David (1 Sam. 22:1-2). This psalm could also possibly have been written very early in his reign in Hebron, and may have grown out of his pondering the mess he had inherited from King Saul. And as David came to a full knowledge of just how corrupt the administration of justice in Israel really was, with his passion for justice, the stories of judicial arrogance, venality, and oppression that filled his ears must have made his blood boil.
Some think David wrote this psalm during the Absalom rebellion. Absalom had stolen the hearts of the men of Israel by pretending to be far more concerned for their social welfare than David was and by promising the people that, when he came to the throne, he would see to it that the wheels of justice moved swiftly, smoothly, and sympathetically. All the time he was devising the most monstrous crimes, many of which he executed during that brief time when he sat upon the throne. Those crimes made his name so to stink in Israel that all who passed his grave felt the urge to pick up a stone and hurl it at his tomb.
One reason there is so much difficulty with the date of Psalm 58 is because the subject matter deals with a perennial problem: the unjust judges and corruption in the courts and in the government. This is a theme that touches us today and this Psalm might not tell us the when behind it, but it does describe the why behind the injustices and how we can pray about it!