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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Psalms 58

Verses 1-11


I. The throne of iniquity ( Psalms 58:1-5).

(1) ‘Not only does the Psalmist, inspired by the vision of the eternal throne, foresee the issue, but he earnestly pleads for it; and he does so on two grounds—that the righteous may obtain the reward of their righteousness, and that all men may see that there is a God that judgeth in the earth. The triumph of injustice can only be temporary. There is a day coming when all the unjust judgments both of corrupt tribunals and of unrighteous society will be reversed. But justice does not altogether linger till the judgment day. Even now God asserts Himself and vindicates His own; and, when He does so, the instincts of every honest heart must rise up to welcome Him.’

(2) ‘This psalm is against wicked rulers. The word rendered congregation (1) means also “mighty ones,” or “rulers.” It has been suggested that it was written on account of Abner and the rest of Saul’s princes, who judged David as a rebel and outlaw, and urged Saul to pursue him. It is the fourth of the Golden Psalms. For superscription, see also 57. The word Michtam signifies inscription, and some have conjectured that the six psalms thus described, and which were written during the days when David was a fugitive, were inscribed on the sides of the caves in which he took refuge.’



‘Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation?’

Psalms 58:1

In the Prayer Book Version this text stands, ‘Are your minds set upon righteousness, O ye congregation?’ This includes the other, and goes deeper. We shall not speak of that upon which our minds are not first set.

I. Take these words in their large and general signification, and what do they mean?—Are you in earnest? Are you in earnest about your own spiritual concerns? Are your affections ‘set on things above, not on things on the earth’? Have you concentrated your minds upon religion as upon a focus?

II. But the words have evidently a further distinctiveness.—The word ‘righteous’ in the Bible—at least, in the New Testament application of it—generally refers to that perfect righteousness which Jesus has both made and purchased for His people. The inquiry therefore in its true force runs thus: Are your minds set on finding pardon and justification through that Saviour who shed His very blood for us, that we, poor, banished, but not expelled, ones, might come back and find a home in our heavenly Father’s love?

III. He who is, or wishes to be, righteous in His Saviour’s righteousness is always the man who is also the most righteous in the discharge of all the duties of this present life.—The question therefore takes another easy and necessary transit: In this very place, at this very moment, are you honest—honest to God and to your own souls in the work in which you are engaged? You have received the stewardship of many talents; where is the capital, and where is the interest ready to be given back to the Proprietor when He comes? ‘Are your minds set upon righteousness, O ye congregation?’

—Rev. James Vaughan.


‘In the opening verses we have the picture of an evil time. Iniquity is enthroned in high places; especially the judgment seat is corrupted. Perhaps the opening words ought to be as they are given in the margin of the Revised Version, “Is the righteousness ye should speak dumb?” The Psalmist is accusing the administrators of justice of bribery. In the second verse, he describes them as weighing out violence in the scales in which justice ought to be weighed. That is, they observed all the solemn forms of justice, but had no regard for the interests of those who could not pay for their verdicts. In the East this has always been, and is at the present day, one of the leading features of an evil time. Justice cannot be procured; the well-doing man is harassed by his wicked neighbours, and has no redress.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 58". The Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.