Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Psalm 58 - The Righteous One reasoning with the ungodly in prospect of the day of vengeance.

Tholuck supposes that David was led to write this on the occasion of Joab murdering Abner. At any rate, it might suit that event. The Righteous One reasons with the ungodly in the prospect of their doom.

It is another Al-taschith and Michtam.

A difficulty meets us in verse 1, some rendering the Hebrew by a change in one letter, "You mighty ones, do you speak righteousness?" others retaining this as a verb, "Is justice then silent?" (Deut 1:16), or "Are you, then indeed dumb, so that you will not speak what is right?"  Horsley puts in this way: "Are you in earnest reflection when you talk of righteousness?"

It is addressed to "the sons of men" (v1), not rulers only, though to rulers also, as being among the sons of men. (See Psalm 82:6)
"The wicked are alienated (from God) from the womb;
The speakers of falsehood have gone astray as they are born (v3)

They are of the "seed of the serpent" and like the adder they hide their ears in the dust, in order not to be charmed, let the charmer chant however sweet and long. Men bury their conscience in the things of earth, and shut out the alluring sound of the tidings of love to the guilty.

Hence, judgement comes "woe to you, Chorazin" - woe to you, O earth, who have heard the offers of lover as the demands of law. In verses 6-9, the wrath is shown under which the mighty melt away "as a snail" suggesting (it has been thought) the idea of the filthy trail or mark which their beastly pollutions used to leave behind them.

The coming of the Son of man overtakes them. They are devising much and planning great schemes, but "before their pots can feel the blazing thorn", before their designs of ambition are reached, "he carries them away with a tempest" - the green and the dry, the sodden and the raw, their finished and their unfinished works, and themselves, too, with all their gratified and all their as yet ungratified desires.

There are seven similitudes: the lion's teeth broken; the torrents running off; the bow snapping apart; the snail wasting awway; the abortion that scarcely can be said to have had existence; the pots that never get time to feel the heart; the whirlwind that makes them its victim.

No doubt, at the sight of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, destroyed, angels saw cause to rejoice and sing, "Hallelujah."

Wickedness was swept away; earth was lightened of a burden; justice, the justice of God, was highly exalted; love to his other creatures was displayed in freeing them from the neighbourhood of such hellish contaminations. On the same principles, (entering, however, yet deeper int the mind of the Father, and sympathising to the full with his justice), the Lord Jesus himself and each one of his members shall cry "Hallelujah" over Antichrist's ruined army (Rev 19:3).

"The righteous shall rejoice when He sees the vengeance,
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." (v10)

He shall be refreshed at the end of his journey (John 13:5, Luke 7:44, Gen 18:4). He shall wipe off all the dust of the way, and end its weariness by entering into that strange, divine joy over sin destroyed, justice honoured, the law magnified, vengeance taken for the insult done to the Godhead, the triumph of the Holy One over the unholy.

It is not merely the time when that joy begins - it is also the occasion and cause of that day's rapturous delight. But what follows now?

It is said, v11, "And man shall say." Is not this the effect upon the world at large of turning them to know their God, his law, his justice, his hatred of sin, his love to his own? Now shall John 17:23 be fulfilled.

Seeing Christ and his bride, the Church, triumphant and glorified, "The world shall know that the Father sent him, and that the Father loved them as he loved Christ."

As they gaze on his and their enthroned glory, they shall confess, "Truly there is a reward for the righteous!" and shall bend their knee and say of Him who sits on the throne of his glory, with his princes who truly decree justice (Isaiah 32:1), "Truly, God judges the earth!"

Its government has come into the hands of the Just One and his saints; there is a God, there is a God who judges! O that the sons of men would hear in this their day! O that every ear was opened to these words of The Righteous One reasoning with the ungodly in prospect of the day of vengeance.

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