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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 58


Psalms 42-83 are Elohistic, i.e. they use the word God (Elohim) and avoid the proper name Yahweh, probably from motives of reverence. Here and there, however, the name Yahweh has crept into the text by a natural slip of the scribes.

Verses 1-11

LVIII. A Prayer for Vengeance on Unrighteous Judges.— This Ps. is closely allied to Psalms 82. The reproaches in Psalms 58:3, where the enemies of the Psalmist are said to have gone astray from the womb, and Psalms 58:4, where they are compared with deaf adders, point to Jewish tyranny, such, e.g., as that of the Sadducean priests, rather than to a foreign power. Nobody would have expected heathen to hear the voice of Jewish religion.

Psalms 58:1 . We ought certainly to read, “ Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O ye gods?” ( mg.) . The title was given in flattery ( cf. 2 Samuel 17:14-20, where see mg.) , or with rhetorical exaggeration as in Zechariah 12:8. Here it is ironical. [But heathen deities may be intended. They were regarded as the unseen rulers of the heathen nations, responsible for the hostility they showed to Israel (see Isaiah 24:21 f.*, Daniel 10:13 *, Daniel 10:20 f.— A. S. P.]

Psalms 58:2 b. i.e. when people come, hoping that justice will be weighed out to them, it is violence which is really put into the scale.

Psalms 58:7 b. Read, “ like tender grass let them be cut off.”

Psalms 58:8 b. Translate, “ unseen by the sun.”

Psalms 58:9 . Hopelessly corrupt. We may perhaps translate with moderate emendation, “ Or ever your pots have felt” ( i.e. have been heated by) “ the thorns, whether they be briars or thistles he” ( i.e. Yahweh) “ shall sweep them away.” The pots are the means by which the enemies of the Psalmist mature their plans. Fuel for the flame lies about in abundance, but Yahweh sweeps it away with the tempest.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 58". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.