Psalm 58


This psalm speaks of the rulers of the land who had failed to render justice, and so, David called for the direct judgment of God on them. This is a psalm which invokes judgment, calamity, or curses upon an enemy, there are seven curses mentioned within the psalm.


‘For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this psalm of David for the director of music. Some commentators believe that ‘director or music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

The psalm was to be directed to the ‘tune of a do not destroy’, no one knows what this tune was but some suggest it reflects David’s words to Saul, 1 Samuel 26:9.

The word, ‘miktam’ means golden, hence why it’s often referred to as the ‘golden psalm’. However, there are others who believe that the word ‘miktam’ may have some musical meaning.

Still others believe that the word means to cover, when we look at other psalms with the same heading, Psalms 56-60, they all appear to be written in times of distress, which leads some to believe that the word ‘miktam’ has the idea of covering the lips in the sense of secrecy. In other words, these are silent or secret psalms which were whispered during times of distress.

‘Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity? No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth. Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skilful the enchanter may be.’ Psalm 58:1-5

David begins by addressing the rulers and judges because of their unrighteous corrupt judgments, and as a result, evil prevailed throughout the land, Job 31:6 / Daniel 5:27 / Revelation 6:5. David appears to asking, why didn’t they defend him or other innocent people instead of staying silent.

After asking these two questions, David goes straight to the source of their corruption, it was their hearts. Their corrupt hearts led them to create violence all over the earth. They weighed out the evidence as in crooked scales and they distorted their judgments because of prejudiced hearts and bribes.

Notice David says, ‘even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.’ This is one of these verses which some people go to justify human beings being born sinners.

However, the first thing to notice with this verse is simply this, if these people were ‘born astray’ then they couldn’t ‘go astray from birth’. David is saying that babies are born into a sinful world with their eyes and ears wide open, Psalm 51:5.

We all know that babies are so inquisitive, they begin to learn immediately through taste, touch, sound, sight and smell. They are watching, and they see evil all around them, constantly from birth.

Yes, they don’t know or understand what evil is when they are born, but evil is present, it’s all around them and they’re influenced by it. David is simply saying that the ones going astray ‘speak lies’, so the going astray has to be accomplished, at the very least, only after the person has learned to speak. He isn’t talking about newly born babies in this passage, he’s talking about adults, James 1:14-15.

The words of the rulers and judges were very dangerous and just like a ‘cobra’. Snake charmers never trust the cobra, no matter how skilled they are, because they are very unpredictable, no matter how skilful the charmer is, Isaiah 11:8 / Isaiah 8:19. These rulers were very dangerous and very unpredictable.

‘Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; LORD, tear out the fangs of those lions! Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short. May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun. Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away. The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.” Psalm 58:6-11

David now calls upon God to pronounce seven cures upon these rulers and judges.

1. David ask God to break their teeth.

2. David asks God to tear out their fangs.

Snakes and lions have their power in their teeth and without them they wouldn’t survive. David wants God to make the rulers and judges as powerless as snakes and lions without teeth, Joel 1:6 / Psalm 3:7 / Psalm 17:12 / Psalm 34:10 / Psalm 35:17 / Psalm 57:4 / Job 29:17 / Proverbs 30:14.

3. David ask God to make them vanish away like water.

He wants the rulers and judges to perish or be cut off, so that he could be saved from them, Job 6:15-19.

4. David asks God to make their arrows useless.

He wants God to render his enemies arrows useless, in terms of having no effect on him, Psalm 11:2.

5. David ask God to make them like slugs which melt away.

He wants his enemies to be like a passing snail, as it moves along, it leaves slimy trail, as if it’s leaving a part of itself behind. He wants them to melt away like the slime of a snail.

6. David asks God to make his enemies like a still-born child.

The word ‘still-born’ in Hebrews suggests an abortion. A ‘still-born’ child isn’t delivered alive, they are ripped out of the womb. David is asking that his enemies, be like they had never been born alive in the first place, Job 3:16. He wants God to rip off the face of the earth as they had never existed.

7. David asks God to sweep away their pot.

Most commentators agree that this seventh curse is difficult to understand. It appears that David considered how quickly a bunch of dry thorns burn in a fire under cooking pots, Ecclesiastes 7:6. Just as a tornado takes away property and possessions, David appears to be asking God to let these corrupt rulers and judges be swept from the presence of the people, Job 27:21.

After God deals with those corrupt rulers and judges, the righteous, that is God’s people will be glad. As victorious people, the righteous will dip their feet in their blood, Psalm 37:34 / Psalm 40:3 / Psalm 68:23.

After the corrupt rulers and judges are judged, the righteous will see this as their reward from God, 1 Timothy 4:8, and they will know that God truly is the judge of the earth, Genesis 18:25 / Revelation 20:11-15.


David asked God to curse his enemies with seven different curses, however, when we turn to the New Testament we quickly discover that cursing people would be sinful.

Paul tells Christians that we should bless those who persecute us, not curse them, Romans 12:14. Jesus tells Christians to love, bless and pray for our enemies, Matthew 5:44-48 / Luke 6:27-36.

As Christians we must remember to leave vengeance to God, and not take matters into our hands, Deuteronomy 32:35 / Nahum 1:2-3 / Romans 12:19.

We can’t bless, love and prayer for our enemies if hatred resides in our hearts. Even if these activities don’t change them, they will help us develop love like God’s. Our religion is worth little if it doesn’t lead us to a higher love than that which is shown by worldly men, Proverbs 24:17.

Our love should not be restricted simply to those who are like us. We should greet everyone in a kind manner, seeking opportunities to do good for all, Galatians 6:10.

Go To Psalm 59


"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 John 3:16