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Sunday, April 10, 2016

PSALM 58

 
What can I say about fangless lions and deaf cobras, melting snails, and headless shafts?
 
"Those who speak lies go astray from birth.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent;
Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear,
So that it does not hear the voice of charmers,
Or a skillful caster of spells.
O God, shatter the teeth in their mouth;
Break out the fangs of the young lions...
When he aims his arrows, let them be as headless shafts.
Let them be as a snail which melts away as it goes along."

 
 
"Save me from the adders, the sly and poisonous slanderers:
--save me also from the lions, the tyrannical and blood-thirsty men."
"Saul, the old lion; and his council, lions' whelps."
(Adam Clarke)


 
"It is the probable conjecture of some that before Saul began to persecute David by force of arms,
he formed a process against him by course of law, upon which he was condemned unheard, and attainted as a traitor, by the great council, and then proclaimed 'an outlawed wolf' whom any man might kill and no man might protect.  The elders, in order to curry favour with Saul, having passed this bill of attainder, it is supposed that David penned this psalm on the occasion." (Matthew Henry)  We understand in our society as well when "judges would not do right, would not protect or vindicate oppressed innocency.  The innocent are being oppressed more and more, from the unborn to those whose stand for righteousness is being prosecuted."


 
The Old Psalter says,
"Swa the wikked men wi noght here the voyce of Crist and his lufers that are wys charmes;
 for thi wild (would)bring thaim till light of heven. 
ye well (know) that he (Christ) lufes noght charmars and venim makers
but be (by) vices of beates, he takes lickening of vices of men."
 
"There is a God who does not entirely defer judgment till the judgment day;
but executes judgment now, even in this earth;
and thus continues to give such proof of His hatred to sin
and love to His followers that every considerate mind is convinced of it...
There is, even here, a reward for the righteous."
(Adam Clarke) 
 
Matthew Henry notes that David does not say, break the neck of the lion, but break its teeth, so that it will live, but hunger after what is just, instead of being a ravenous man-eater. 


 
I don't have a lot of experience with lions (except behind bars in Lion Safari) and cobras, except that I read this past week of a popular entertainer in the Middle East who was killed by a cobra while on stage in front of an audience (oops).  I've seen snails--a little less dangerous--with their slimy trails which dry up when their house is destroyed, however.  I have also found the arrowheads of the headless shafts.  It is amazing how after a century or two these can still be found as evidence of the hunt.  I've found them in arroyos in New Mexico and Arizona, on the tumbled, rocky beach of Montana de Oro, and by the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks.  Their shafts are long gone.  Without their shafts, they too are powerless. 


 
But if there was no reward for the righteous here and now, how else should we pray  for help if there was none to deliver until the great judgment day?  Thus, we can join this psalmist as he rejoices in God's deliverance, that might also lead those who see, turn back to God.
 
"And men will say,
'Surely there is a reward (fruit) for the righteous;
Surely there is a God who judges on earth!'"
(verse 11)


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