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Psalm 58[a]

The Dethroning of Unjust Rulers

For the leader. Do not destroy.[b] A miktam of David.


Do you indeed pronounce justice, O gods;[c]
    do you judge fairly you children of Adam?(A)
No, you freely engage in crime;
    your hands dispense violence to the earth.

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  1. Psalm 58 A lament expressing trust in God’s power to dethrone all powers obstructing divine rule of the world. First condemned are “the gods,” the powers that were popularly imagined to control human destinies (Ps 58:2–3), then “the wicked,” the human instruments of these forces (Ps 58:4–6). The psalmist prays God to prevent them from harming the just (Ps 58:7–10). The manifestation of justice will gladden the just; they will see that their God is with them (Ps 58:11). The Psalm is less concerned with personal vengeance than with public vindication of God’s justice now.
  2. 58:1 Do not destroy: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung.
  3. 58:2 Gods: the Bible sometimes understands pagan gods to be lesser divine beings who are assigned by Israel’s God to rule the foreign nations. Here they are accused of injustice, permitting the human judges under their patronage to abuse the righteous, cf. Ps 82.

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