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A verse by verse Bible Study


 A Preacher in his Study




{To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David.}

1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? 2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. 6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD. 7 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. 8 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. 9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.



Psalm 58 is a riddle!

Even with only 11 verses, it remains one of the least studied and most criticized (by the liberals) of all the Bible's chapters.

It is one of the "imprecatory" Psalms.  (Most texts list 7 of them:  Psalms 6, 35, 58, 69, 83, 109 and 137.)

That word "imprecatory" means (from Latin) "to pray" (precare) "in" (in, im).  Simply stated and with etymology alone being our guide, imprecation is the grand activity of prayer.

However, the word has picked up an additional nuance ... and now means "praying a curse" on something or someone!

Here is a nearly word for word on-line dictionary's definition for imprecation:  "The act of invoking judgment upon any one;  a prayer that a calamity may fall on something; a curse!"

Can't you see WHY chapters like this one cause so much trouble to Bible teachers?

In fact, the more irreverent ones of them just skip chapters like this!  Or, worse yet, criticize it or question its validity!

But therein is the problem.

I belong to an ever shrinking group of folks who believe that ALL the Bible is inspired!

I am convicted that NO CHAPTER is unimportant!

Even this one!

Having said that, let me show you the whole Psalm:


{To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David.}

1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? 2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. 6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD. 7 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. 8 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. 9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

The portion of the Psalm that prays judgment on the wicked has been highlighted with all capital letters for easier identification.

Well, what do we do?

Just "throw away" 7 chapters of Scripture?

No!  No!

There are great truths embedded within these verses and I want us to dig until we've found them.

And we shall do so (Lord willing), beginning tomorrow.

Until then ... just remember:  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  2nd Timothy 3:16-17

I can hardly wait to start our exposition!

Meet me Monday ... with a Bible in your hand!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Have you ever paid much attention to the "titles" of the Psalms?

I mean those little words printed over the Psalm, even before its first verse begins.

Some Bible teachers call these brief descriptive phrases  "superscripts."  That word is Latin and just means "written above."

For example, here's the title to Psalm 58: "To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David."

The term "chief musician" translates one Hebrew word, "natzsach."  It means: one who excels!  Or one who oversees!  Or one who is pre-eminent!  Or one who is perpetual (lasting forever)!  It's a word used to describe the chief or the director!  It is framed here in a verbal form ... a Piel participle!  That just means that the action implied by this man's office is to be both intensive and habitual!

The Bible Historian will tell us that this word is a synonym for the "choir leader" of the era in which our Psalm was written.  And indeed it well may have that connotation.  BUT I believe it looks further down the road than that!  I believe it is a "hint" of a coming One Who will lead the choirs of Heaven!  I believe it has "tinges" of the Messiah in it!  Jesus ALONE is the truly perpetual (eternal) One!  He ALONE is the truly pre-eminent One also!

If you do not believe He sings ... read Psalm 2:22 which expressly speaks of Jesus even while He was on the Cross.  "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee."  Now when this verse is quoted in the New Testament it is clearly used of the Saviour and reads:  "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."   Note that the "praise" of Psalm 22 has become "sing praise" by Hebrews 2:12!  Jesus is a singer!  Jesus is THE Singer!  Still don't believe me?  Then Zephaniah 3:17 further proves it:  "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."

Jesus is THE Chief Musician!

Somehow Psalm 58 is dedicated to the Lord Himself!

Next the Superscript reads:  "Al-taschith." 

The Hebrew words mean:  Do not destroy!  Likely the words are instructions to the many singers who will follow this Psalm's author.  They may be tempted to "lay aside" this Psalm!  (You will know why as soon as you read it completely!)  It presents us a difficult piece of Bible study!

But, No! 

Never destroy or ignore or belittle any text of divinely inspired Scripture!  (And that's ALL the Bible!)

Just because a text does not fit the age in which we live ... or the context of what I've been taught does NOT mean that I can remove it from the Bible!  (As many have done to Psalm 58!)

God has given us clear warning:  DO NOT DESTROY!

I'll guarantee you that this Psalm will be resurrected and used by God's people in days ahead!  (Particularly by saved Jews during the Tribulation!)  In fact, it has been a comfort to suffering saints in all ages!  And you just KNOW that Jesus has read it  during all the days of His earthly sojourn!  He likely memorized it and quoted from it and may have even prayed it concerning His chief enemy Satan!

Lastly the Psalm is a "Michtam" Psalm.  That means one of three things.  Some scholars say it means "golden!"  If so, this passage (the 58th Psalm) is pure gold in God's eyes!  Psalm 19:10 says of the Scriptures:  "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

"Michtam" also can mean "hidden!"  If that's the import here ... the Psalm well may contain some "hidden" truths, just waiting to be "mined" by the thoughtful Bible student!  (Pass the shovels and picks and buckets, please!)

And "Michtam" was said by some of the old timers to mean "engraved."  In other words, let the Holy Spirit of God "cut" the message of this Psalm deep into your heart!  Be impacted with it in a permanent manner!


All that ... and we have not even reached verse 1 yet.

The Lord can put a lot into a "title," can't He?

It is a "foretaste" of coming things in Psalm 58!

He also Has given you a "foretaste" of glory and heaven and victory and peace!  How so, preacher?  By means of the Holy Spirit, Who is the EARNEST of all God is!  (The Holy Spirit is God as Jesus is God!)  The "earnest" is the "down payment" on a matter ... implying the seriousness of the buyer and promising that more is coming! Even so, Lord Jesus!)  "... In Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, Which is the Earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."  Ephesians 1:13-14

I'm glad you have visited her today ... with a Bible in your hand!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Our President, George W. Bush, recently called them "activist judges!"

He was speaking of a group of men and women who have been appointed to the Federal Judicial Bench who have dedicated themselves to a host of social issues.

They seem to promote (almost in unison) such positions as homosexual marriage, partial birth abortion, and the removal of anything even remotely dealing with God in our national landscape!

Well, I think I have found a Bible verse that at least refers to this crowd of judges!

It is in Psalm 58.

One Bible teacher says the whole Psalm is about injustice ... "about the abuse of judicial power." 

"Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?"  Psalm 58:1

The verse is addressed to the "sons of men."

In Hebrew the word for son is often "ben."  And the noun for men here is "adam." So, we have "ben adam."  (Sons of Adam!)

In a real sense we are all sons of Adam.  We have had his guilt passed upon us as well. 

Romans 5:12 describes what I mean:  "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

But these "sons of men" are also (at least to some degree) judges too!  The verb for "judge" here is "shaphat" in Hebrew and means to govern or rule or avenge or condemn or even execute.  All activities of current day judges!  The word is in the  Qal stem and has a sense of time called "imperfect."  That means the action being described is incomplete ... still going on to the present moment (of David's writing the Psalm).

Just think of that --- a Psalm for judges!  (Or at least partially for them!)

The "parallel" portion of our verse uses the word "congregation."  This broadens the concept from just judges to the whole population!  Do judges impact the whole country?  I believe they do!

Or does the whole country simply produce the kind of judges it want ... and deserves?  That's no doubt true too! 

In reality it is probably a matter of reciprocal influence!  The judges move the country (in the cases we are considering) more to the evil side of life.  And the country keeps producing those kinds of judges.  (We must have some strange law schools today!)

And "parallel" to judging are the words for "speaking righteousness."  This describes the opinions and "talking points" of the lost world!

By and large much popular opinion (based on what the mass media says anyway) simply echoes today's liberal godless philosophy.

Psalm 58:1 just asks a couple of questions.  It sounds like God is calling into question the behavior of a rebellious society in general and a host of wicked judges in particular.

These questions imply negative answers.  Again, here they are:  "Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?"

By the way ... the answers follow in verse 2!  ("Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.")

And a bit later in the Psalm their words and judgments are compared to "poison" spewed all over the land!

Enough has been said for today.

For those of you who will return tomorrow ...more is coming.

We are soon to learn God's attitude toward this wicked crowd!

(And it is pretty rough!)

God pity our nation.

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Bible says it in so many ways!

The same truth over and over again!

"Man is a sinner!"

For example, Romans 3:23 tells us:  "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  Get that!  ALL!

Or see Romans 3:10.  "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."  See it!  NONE!

But here is one way the Old Testament words it.  When speaking to all the people in general (called the "congregation") Scripture declares ... "Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth."  That's found in Psalm 58:2.

The opening word "yea" is a conjunction that "connects" verse 2 to some previous information.  (Like verse one's implication that all men speak lies and judge wickedly!)  In Hebrew the opening word is spelled "aph."

"Heart" is in Hebrew the noun "leb" and means the "inner being" of a person.  In the King James Bible it is translated heart or mind or understanding.

Mankind ... truly down in his heart ... is WICKED!  That's exactly what our verse is saying!

BUT this is not just describing the act of "being" wicked!  It goes further than that ... much further!  It is talking about those who WORK wickedness!

The verb "work" is "paal" in Hebrew and means to do or to make or even to ordain! And the "time" sense of the verb indicates these wicked ones create and promote this wickedness of their habitually ... again and again and again!  ("Imperfect" verb action ... means incomplete process still in development!)  The first use of this verb in the whole Bible (Exodus 15:17) speaks of God's MAKING His Sanctuary for a dwelling place!

And the word "wickedness" translates the Hebrew noun "evel."  It of course is one of the main words for sin ... but in this special sense:  that which is twisted or distorted from its original shape!  (God created ... but wicked man has been distorting and twisting God's ways ever since!)  Now vile mankind is twisting God's plan for marriage, for childbirth, for education, for wisdom, for finance and for everything else too it seems!

The verb "weigh" means to balance ("to roll flat" literally).  It has the idea I think of two trays with a fulcrum in the middle (old fashioned "balance" scales) like we sometimes see at courthouses where the judges are.  This verb is in the Piel stem (Hebrew again) and that means it describes intensive aggressive action!  This may imply that these wicked men are trying to outmaneuver each other in their sins!  A "contest" to see who can be the most ungodly!

And the noun "violence" translates a little word you've heard lately!  It is "hamas" (or "chamas").  Some of the most hateful enemies of Israel right now have named themselves HAMAS!  Men (and women) of violence!  Terrorism!  Cruelty! Injustice!

I am telling you right now ... abortion is violence!

Destroying the Christian family (husband-wife-children) is violence!

Ripping the Bible to pieces is violence!

Destroying people's faith is violence!

Calling wrong right is violence!

Kicking God out of public life is violence!

Mocking morality is too!

And these particularly wicked men (and women) are guilty!

These are not just "normal, regular" sinners!  They are the activists among the ungodly!  The inciters to more sin!  The "break the standards of decent behavior" crowd!  The "attack the Bible" group!

Now ... if you stay with this Psalm, the Lord is going to teach us how to pray when we see these kind of wicked people.

Do not hate them.

Do not do anything to hurt them.

Just pray about them.

BUT ... what we are to pray is dramatic!

However, if you are really interested in exactly what we Christians can pray about this unprecedented onslaught of rebellion in our day ... please follow the rest of this little study.  We shall cover a new verse each day, Lord willing.

I am so glad you have visited us.  I see you have come "with a Bible in your hand!"  You are welcome here anytime!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Again we are going to be taught the "depravity" of mankind!

Here's the verse:

"The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."  Psalm 58:3

The noun for "wicked" is "rasha" in Hebrew and means an actively bad person! One who seeks to spread his or her iniquity!  (One concordance says that it means to disturb or violate!  It is an aggressive verb!)

This is describing militant wickedness!


To be "estranged" is (in Hebrew = "zur") and means to "go away" or to "depart" or to "become a stranger" to one's original purposes!  (God created mankind for fellowship with Him!  As soon as man is born ... he departs from that plan, becoming a "stranger" to it!)  The verb also is describing "completed" action.  This alienation is done!

To "go astray" (in Hebrew = "taah") is the very same verb used in Isaiah 53:6 where we are told:  "All we like sheep have gone astray."  It means to err or to wander or to stagger or even to go out of the way!  It is sometimes used of a  man who is intoxicated!  This verb action is incomplete ... an ongoing thing!

"Speaking" is a participle of "dabar" with an emphasis on the constantly moving tongues of mankind!  (The focus is on what that man is saying ...not just how he says it too!)

Lost man's life is based on a bunch of lies!

Oh!  How he needs the TRUTH!

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  John 14:6

Did you get that?

Jesus said: "I AM THE TRUTH!"

Today, if you are unsaved (and still swimming abound in that pool of lies), come to Jesus!

He will save you.

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Today we have a rather picturesque description of the actively wicked people on earth (even yet today)!

"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."  Psalm 58:4-5

The ungodly are compared to snakes!

Venomous snakes too!

The word used here for "poison" is interesting.  In Hebrew it is spelled "chemah" and is translated (King James Version) as:  fury (67 times), wrath (34 times), poison (6 times), rage (2 times) plus several more miscellaneous ways.  The verbal "root" of our word means "to be hot" and "to conceive!"  Sin is well described by both those concepts!  It is often hot and passionate.  It also conceives and produces many terrible by-products!

Again we are reminded that the people being described here are not just regular sinners ... lost in darkness but seeking the light!  No! No! These are rebels! Activists! (Reprobates to use Paul's word!)

The noun for serpent is "nachash" and means (obviously) a snake.  (It is rendered "serpent" all 31 times it is used in the Bible.)  Yet it comes from a verb that means "to hiss" or "to whisper (a magic spell)!"  That sounds just like the devil, doesn't it?

Next this crowd is compared to an "adder."  This is a member of the snake family too.  In Hebrew "pethen"  means "to twist" ... from the natural contortions of a snake I think.  This is a member of the deadly cobra family it is thought.  In the King James Bible the word is translated both adder and asp.

All snakes are deaf we are told.  They "hear" by feeling vibrations on the ground.  (And just like snakes are deaf ... so are there too some things the devil can not sense!  He is not omniscient!  Glory to God!)

Therefore as the snake has stopped its ears to true sound ... so have these sinners stopped their ears to the Truth of the Word of God!  (It is interesting that the noun here for "ear" is in the feminine gender ... and the word for "snake" is in the masculine gender.  God may be telling us that both men and women are capable of this type of extreme evil!

The noun for "charmers" means "whisperers!"  It is "lachash" in Hebrew and is only used 8 times in the whole Bible!

And the verb "charming" is "chabar" and means to join together or to couple together or to have fellowship with or even to cast a spell upon something!

"Never so wisely" is an adverbial phrase that consists of the Hebrew noun for wisdom ("chakam") and here means "however well skilled" that charmer may be ... he is a failure with these unpredictable snakes!

It almost looks as if they've gone so far as sinners ... that they cannot change! Or they will not change!  SET in their rebellion, they are hopelessly destructive to all of society!

I believe the "charmer" here is not a reference to God trying to "tame" these rascals ... but to their own cohorts who train them and present them as lovely creatures!  In other words, these "snakes" or "devils" are not even loyal to their own trainers and masters.  (The devil even fights himself at times!  He is the father of confusion!)

What anarchy!

It's a house divided against itself!

These may not be the "trophies" of sin that most pleases the Devil!  Or though he may be "proud" of them ... he will NOT use them for his advertisements!  They are detrimental to his overall cause.

What can be done about such rebellion and overt sin?

More tomorrow, Lord willing.

The Psalm does answer that last question.

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Suddenly the Psalm changes!

No longer being just descriptive or educational (didactic is the theological term for instructive) ... it is now imprecatory!

David is literally asking God to deal with these blatant rebels!

Here's our verse:  "Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD."  Psalm 58:6


Where did THAT prayer come from?

How did IT get in the Bible?

(It was placed there by the same God who gave us the 23rd Psalm in all its peacefulness and beauty!)

To break someone's teeth is to render them powerless in their vicious plans to attack and hurt others!

Note that the extremely evil men already described in this Psalm are here compared to "young lions."  Those are the lions most prone to attack innocent prey!  And they are the strongest and fastest too!

The verb "break" is in Hebrew "haras" and means to destroy or ruin.  The verb is framed as an imperative here ... expressing strong desire (even a command)! Bible prayers are often expressed in this manner.

The Lord DID say we could so pray!  "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."  Isaiah 45:11


(However, I would still advise you to pray also:  "Thy will be done!")

And this is unusual: the second verb "break out" (in Hebrew = "nathatzs") is from another Hebrew term altogether!  It means to tear down!  (And is also an imperative!)

The first use of "haras" is in Exodus 15:7 where it is translated "overthrown." "And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble." 

However its second use is also interesting.  Watch the words "break through." Exodus 19:21 --- "And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish." Some might argue that David is praying for the Lord to burst through the hardened teeth of these rebels to reach them with the truth!

It seems there may be a fine line between God breaking through to us with Truth ... and (upon our persistently rejecting that Truth) His breaking through our very teeth with judgment!

And the first Bible use of "nathatzs" is in Exodus 34:13 where God uses the word "destroy."  Here it is:  "But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves." 

These are aggressive verbs for sure!

The expression "great teeth" ("maltaah") is only used this one time in all the Bible.  That makes it unique. 

Other word pictures of Scripture concerning broken teeth are found in Job 4:10 and Psalm 3:7 ("Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.") and Lamentations 3:16.

It appears that the prayer of Psalm 58:6 is just a rewording of a previously attested Biblical prayer in Psalm 3:7 then!

As far as "teeth" being weapons against innocent people, see such Scriptures as these:

Psalm 57:4 --- "My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword."

Psalm 124:6 --- "Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth."

Proverbs 30:14 --- "There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men."

And for a "positive" view of teeth (which Psalm 58 does NOT present) ... see Song of Solomon 4:2 ("Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.") and Song of Solomon 6:6 ("Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.")

This is a pretty rough prayer, isn't it?

But it IS in the Bible!

Apparently the rebelliously actively wicked can reach some "point of no return" ... at which God unleashes the prayers of His people against them!  (And obviously judgment ensues!)

This gives the concept of being a "prayer warrior" a whole new meaning!

Don't you even think of praying this against one of your personal enemies! (Jesus has clearly told us how to handle them in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28!) This is to be prayed against GOD'S ENEMIES!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 8 ... VERSE 7: 

Two powerful word pictures dominate this verse!

They are also prayers to God in reference to the hopelessly wicked!

Psalm 58:7 --- "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."


The verb "melt away" translates "maas" in Hebrew and means literally to despise, refuse, reject or abhor!  (To "spurn" or when used intransitively "to disappear")  When used in the "water" context here ... the Psalmist is asking the Lord "to dry them up" ... as a "gully" filled with raging flood waters is soon dusty again and filled with garbage!

Next is the picture of a broken set of arrows!

Notice that it is understood that this wicked judge or this wicked rebel intends to hurt someone!  These people are aggressive activists!  They are the very hounds of hell itself!

The noun for "arrows" (in Hebrew - "chetzs") means darts or shafts ... that are designed to wound!

"Cut in pieces" translates one Hebrew word, "mul."  It means "to cut off" the arrowhead, the point, the dangerous end of the weapon.   (In the King James Bible this verb is overwhelmingly used ... 30 of 36 times ... to mean "circumcise.")

Now to those of you who declare that such praying is unworthy of a Christian ... let me show you one of Paul's prayers.  He is praying against those who oppose the Gospel of Grace.  Against those who would tell the Galatians they have to be circumcised to be saved!  Paul prays in Galatians 5:12 --- "I would they were even cut off which trouble you."  Paul just expressed a desire to God that the "troublers" who despise the Grace of God, that the "circumcisers" themselves be "cut off."  The verb means "to amputate."  It is an exact parallel to this "cut in pieces" prayer of the Psalmist here!

It must be Biblically proper to pray God's Word (God's promised judgment) upon the rebelliously heretical  enemies of our dear Lord.

O God, "Thy will be done" ... even regarding the wicked activists of this old world!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Today's verse is a little hard to understand. 

"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."  Psalm 58:8

The snail picture here is interesting.  This Hebrew noun (snail = "shablul") is used only here in Scripture!  It comes from a verb that means to flow!  (Like the train of a lady's dress as it trails behind her!)

The Psalmist is describing one of those slimy creatures (a sticky and gooey snail) as it slowly slithers along, leaving some of its moisture and substance behind! 

He is praying, "Lord let them keep on traveling.  Let the wicked move on down the road!  And let them melt away as they so depart!"

Also I am told that in the Holy Land snails often climb walls and bask in the morning sunlight ... only to stay there too long!  As the warm Eastern sun rises high in the sky and becomes unbearably hot ... often the snails are overcome by such heat and DRY UP and die right there on their wall perch!  (Nothing left but the shell!)

The Psalmist prays THIS upon the incorrigibly wicked!  "Incorrigible" means: not ("in" in Latin) to be corrected ("corrigere" in Latin)!  This crowd is so hard-hearted and rebellious that they WILL NOT be corrected ... adamantly refusing God's Hand of correction in their lives!

And the verb "pass away" (in Hebrew = "halak") literally means to walk away! (Let them keep on departing!)

And "untimely birth" translates "nephel" in Hebrew.  This means an abortion or a miscarriage or a premature birth.  (It is only used 3 times in the whole Bible!)  It is from the root verb that means "to fall!" 

The snails may have been consumed by the hot SUN!

Yet these fetuses have never seen the SUN!

It seems both these pictures of judgment deal with the sun in some manner! (And the sun is a Type of our Lord Jesus Christ!  As in Malachi 4:2 --- "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."  Or in Psalm 19:5, when describing the sun the Psalmist says:  "Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.")


What prayers!

Again ... they are only to be prayed for the enemies of God!  (NOT our personal enemies!  We are to love them!)

Now you might be saying, Preacher Bagwell ... I could never pray anything like that about anybody!"

Then I would suggest that you never pray the Lord's Prayer again!

For, you see, when you pray:  "Father ... Thy Kingdom come!" ... you are praying exactly for this "Verse 8" kind of judgment to fall upon the world! When Jesus returns to this earth He will judge righteously!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



lesson 10 ... verse 9:

"Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath." Psalm 58:9

Now this verse gets a bit dramatic!

The Psalmist seems to address the wicked themselves for a short while!

He says something to them about their "pots."

He is picturing them as travelers going on a desert journey.  They have stopped at night to camp and eat their evening meal.  They have prepared their fire (both for protection and for cooking).  Since there are no large trees (in the desert) they have had to gather "thorns" and brambles and little twigs and such for fuel ... for kindling ... for "wood" to ignite their fires! Those "thorns" will catch aflame quickly and burn just as quickly, delivering little lasting heat!  But ... even before that nearly instant flame-up (of the thorns) ... the Psalmist says God will "destroy" these wicked reprobates!  (Maybe those ungodly judges too!) 

This implies swift judgment!

The verb "take them away as with a whirlwind" is just one word in Hebrew! "Saar" means "to sweep away, to whirl away or to storm away!"  (To blow away as with a tornado!) 

And the word for "wrath" here is "charon" and means HEAT, anger or burning fierce wrath!  It comes from a word that means "to blaze up with intense heat!"  Wow!

Also the adjective "living" ("chay" in Hebrew) may be modifying God's wrath!  If so, we are here being told that God's wrath is alive! 

If lost man had any spiritual discernment at all (which he does not ... he is dead in sins) ... he would stay away from sin just for self-preservation reasons alone!  (Yet people persist in wicked lifestyles ... even in the face of such risks as getting "aids" or even something worse, the flames of hell!)

One Bible teacher says:  "Here is justice visualized!"

Oh, the deadly dangers of sin!

                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Psalm 58 continues:  "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked."  (Psalm 58:10)

Now we will have to be careful with that little verse!

Caution must be exercised here ... so as to not violate other Scriptures of Truth.

For example: Proverbs 24:17 --- "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth."  (Hint:  There's a BIG difference between your enemies and God's enemies!)

And let me also remind us today that this "vengeance" business is not ours at all.  That is God's activity!  ("Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."  Romans 12:19)

Yet this Bible prophecy (verse 10 above) is in the Word of God and will be fulfilled some day! 

Thee will come a time when God will fiercely judge the guilty reprobates and hardened rebels of this world (the God-haters and Christ-mockers) and such wrath will righteously trigger the rejoicing of His saints!

That verb "rejoice" means to "brighten up!"  (To radiate!  To smile!  To be glad!)  In Hebrew it is spelled "samach."  And it indicates on-going action ... this joy lasts for a while!

And the verb for "vengeance" is "naqam" and means to punish or to grudge or to avenge.  Of course it has no taint of evil here.  God can do no wrong!  He is wholly pure!  (He is also Holy and pure!)

Listen to our great God in Deuteronomy 32:35 --- "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand."


He speaks again in Deuteronomy 32:41 --- "If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me."

BUT let me quickly point to this fact:  in the first Bible use of the word, God's vengeance is actually being used to PROTECT someone!  Even someone wicked, Cain!  "And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him."  Genesis 4:15

That's vengeance serving in a GRACE capacity!

Without God judging the blatantly wicked ... the very existence of the righteous would be in jeopardy!

One Bible commentator said this:  "If it is right for God to destroy, it cannot be wrong for His servants to rejoice in what He does!"

Some day justice will be vindicated!

As far as the godly man washing his feet in the blood of the wicked --- the verb "shall wash" translates "rachatzs" (Hebrew) and refers to some kind of ritual foot-washing of ancient culture.  It is derived from an Akkadian verb that means "to overflow!"  There is apparently going to be a lot of blood on judgment day!  (Think of the day of the Battle of Armageddon!  Revelation 14:20 says: "And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.")

I guess we are all going to a great foot washing service some day!

I would not want to belong to that evil crowd, would you?

I just fear God too much for that!

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 12 ... VERSE 11:

In these last days it seems like God's judgment is slow in coming!

Our dear Lord is such a God of compassion and grace (and patient longsuffering) that he lovingly allows mankind space for repentance.

In fact even Isaiah calls judgment God's "strange act!"  Once in speaking of God's wrath, the Prophet says:  "For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act."  Isaiah 28:21

The noun "work" (used twice in our verse) signifies that which is  pursued then achieved by a skilled craftsman!  Here it is something fashioned or made by God! God's "judgments" are carefully created to fit the situation at hand!  The Hebrew verb here is spelled "maaseh."

And the word "act" (in Hebrew = "abodah") means work or service as a slave would render!  Is this suggesting that God has made Himself a Slave to His Own Laws of judging wrong and rewarding right?

And even the two adjectives translated "strange" are altogether different words in Hebrew! The first "strange" is "zur" and is derived from a verb that means "to turn aside!"

Here I strongly believe we are being told that God's first purpose in judgment is "to turn aside" the wicked sinner from his evil way!  (Perhaps even to turn him to righteousness!)  Remember how God sent an angel with a sword to turn old Balaam aside from the error of his way!  (Numbers 22:23)

And the second adjective for "strange" is "nokriy" and means different or foreign. (The root verb behind this word has the idea of something being so unusual it is scrutinized and examined reverently and carefully!)

This Isaiah verse definitely leaves us with the impression that God's judgments are pre-planned and specifically designed for a particular occasion!  They are also unusual and should be studied carefully!

Now, why have I brought this Isaiah 28 verse to you on a Friday in October?

Because it helps explain the last verse of Psalm 58.

"So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth."  Psalm 58:11

When all the judgment anticipated (and prayed for) in Psalm 58 occurs ... mankind will conclude:  So ... He DOES judge the wicked!  God indeed rewards the righteous! And He controls the whole earth!  "Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."  Romans 3:4

I will guarantee you this.  Very little has been written or preached about God's judgments through all of history!

But that will change some day.

One of the heart cries of the Tribulation Period yet to hit this earth is:  "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." (Revelation 16:7)  Also see Revelation 19:2 and Psalm 119:160 and Psalm 19:9!  All say the same thing!

The two times "verily" occurs in Psalm 58:11 ... they translate the Hebrew adverb "ak."  This little word comes from a verb that means to be strong or erect and then to be stable or firm!  "Verily" here serves a purpose similar to the "amen" we often say in church yet today!  Truth!  Right!  It is so!

And the Hebrew noun for "reward" is their common word for "fruit!  ("periy")  God will give fruit to the godly man!

And the verb for "judgeth" means to vindicate (to make right) ... but also with the idea of punishment included!

When history has run its course (and probably a long time before then), humanity will be declaring the sovereign control of God (including His judgment) over ALL the earth!

I say:  "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."  John said that too!  See Revelation 22:20.  In fact, those words constitute the very last prayer of the Bible!

Ladies and Gentlemen who have been saved by the Grace of God, we are on the winning Side!

                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Just in case someone is still having problems with the idea of retribution or imprecation in Scripture ... let me mention a few additional points of Scripture.

One of the most common objections to preaching such passages as Psalm 58 (or Psalm 83 or any of the other "War" Psalms) is that it's all "Old Testament" Theology and not "New Testament" Truth!

So let me mention a few New Testament instances of such "curses" being pronounced!  (Some even by Jesus and all for Jesus' Sake!)

Matthew 23 (the very Words of Christ) is filled with imprecation!  Jesus is here speaking to the Pharisees and Scribes:  "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation."    Matthew 23:33-36

Here is another of Jesus' imprecations:  "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."  Matthew 7:23

Listen to Jesus pray:  "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."  That is a prayer for God's judgment to fall upon this wicked earth!  (And Jesus taught us to pray it too!)  When Jesus comes again He will interrupt Armageddon and righteously and viciously judge ungodliness.

Here is the record of Jesus cursing even a fig tree!  "And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away."  Matthew 21:19

Listen to Peter talk to a money-hungry Simon who had just tried to "buy" the Holy Ghost:  "But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."  Acts 8:20  "Thy money perish with thee!"  That is a curse recorded in the Bible.  And there's nothing wrong with it either!

Listen to Paul deal with a rebel who was trying to keep a Governor from being saved: "And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."  Acts 13:10-11

But maybe this one tops them all!  Again, it's Paul talking:  "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."  Galatians 1:8-9  (The Apostle just put a godly "curse" on the whole False-Gospel crowd!)

Or how about the longing of the martyred saints in Revelation 6:10?  "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"

And we are not even counting the seals, trumpets and vials yet to fall on earth during the Tribulation!  (All are a result of Jesus' coming again!)

If I were going to argue against the Psalms of Imprecation ... I would not use the "New Testament" argument!  God's judgment can be found everywhere in the Bible!  (By the way ... I am not going to argue against them.  They are in my Bible!)

"Lord, hasten the day when right will rule on the Throne of the universe ... and wrong will be cast into the pit!  In Jesus' Name, Amen!"

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




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