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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 58

Verses 1-11

This Ps. denounces the wickedness of unjust and oppressive judges, and prays, in a series of powerful metaphors, for their destruction, in order that righteousness may be vindicated, and God exalted as the supreme Judge. It is uncertain whether the injustice complained of is exercised by Israelites or by foreigners, and so the Ps. has been variously placed before and after the exile. In any case it cannot be regarded as David’s. For its subject it should be compared with Psalms 82.

Title.—See on Psalms 57.

1. O congregation] RV ’in silence.’ Both are doubtful renderings of a word which occurs only here. The reading now generally accepted gives the meaning, ’O ye gods,’ or ’mighty ones,’ in the sense of ’judges’: cp. Psalms 82:1. Sons of men] Judges are reminded that they are human, in spite of their high office: see Psalms 82:7;

2. Weigh] RV ’weigh out.’ The ’scales of justice’ are abused.

3. Estranged] from God and righteousness.

4, 5. The comparison with serpents is twofold, first as to venom, and second as to obstinate refusal to be influenced.

4. Adder] RM ’asp.’

5. Will not hearken, etc.] cp. Jeremiah 8:17. The ancient art of snake-charming is still practised in the East.

6. Read with LXX ’God shall break,’ etc., and in the following vv. ’They shall melt.. shall be.’ This gives solemn prediction in the place of mere imprecation.

7. Cut in pieces] RV ’cut off,’ blunted.

8. Read, ’They shall be as a snail which melteth and passeth away.’ The idea is perhaps derived from the snail’s slimy track, or from the commonness of empty snail shells.

9. He shall take, etc.] Read, ’While the flesh is still raw wrath shall sweep them away like a whirlwind.’ Flesh is about to be cooked in a pot, but almost before the fire has kindled a whirlwind scatters the whole arrangement. The figure suggests a judgment of startling suddenness.

10. This verse breathes a spirit of ferocity not unnatural in the warlike days of the OT., but impossible to be reconciled with the spirit of Christ.

11. He is a God] RV ’there is a God.’

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 58". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.