Psalm 58 opens with David rebuking the leaders of the people who are referred to as the “Mighty Ones.” The Masoretic Text (the Hebrew text of the OT with manuscripts that date back to 900 AD and comes from much earlier manuscripts) has the Hebrew word for “silence” or “muteness” in 58:1. This word then makes this psalm open with a challenge to the leadership by asking them,
“Do you rulers indeed speak as a mute concerning righteousness?”
Likewise, in 58:4-5 these rulers have also stopped hearing pleas for justice. Psalm 58:4-5 compares them to a venomous snake (a cobra or an adder) that has blocked its ears and refuses to hear the flute of the snake charmer. The motive of the rulers is to mislead the society into a situation that allows the rulers to prosper in the violent, oppressive culture they have created.
But, in this psalm, which is sung to the tune of “Do Not Destroy,” David promises that there is a God in heaven who will fight injustice. God will move against evil and oppressive leadership in governments and in religion. David says that God will:
- Break their teeth (58:6)
- Tear out their fangs (58:6)
- Let them vanish like flowing water (58:7)
- Blunt their arrows (58:7)
- Melt them like a slug (58:8)
- Sweep them away (58:9)
The oppressed righteous will not only be delivered, but they will also be avenged when they bathe in the blood of these wicked leaders and say:
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
David’s purpose is to warn leadership, including himself and his own administration, that there is a divine judge watching and willing to balance the scales of justice in history.