Curses on the Wicked

Psalm 58: 3-8.

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.

Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.

As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

In this unusual psalm, we hear and feel David’s weariness, discouragement, and anger over the constant pursuit of his enemies. They never let him rest. Even when his worst enemy, King Saul, is dead and gone, his own son rises up against him and tries to overthrow him. Absalom’s great vanity had been his long hair. One could say that his vanity killed him, I suppose. In any event, as he hung there by his head, his donkey ran away and left him. And David’s men used him for archery and spear practice. Not a pleasant way to die.

In v. 3, David says that the wicked are what they are “from the womb.” It is born in them to be wicked, and they speak lies right from the beginning. This statement would seem to contradict the “nature vs. nurture” theory, in which someone or something else is blamed when a child’s wicked temperament begins to manifest. It is true that the sinful nature may be exacerbated by circumstances, but then how do we explain the child who has been abused from birth, but who overcomes his circumstances and goes on to live a productive life?

David’s weariness and frustration are clear in these verses. He is begging God to relieve him of the pursuit and power of his enemies. Was it sinful of him to want them gone, powerless to continue to harm him? No, I don’t think so. By this time, he had lived long enough to understand the power of evil in this world. He did not underestimate it, nor did he excuse it. He simply wanted to be able to rest.

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