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Psalm 58

For the worship leader. A prayer[a] of David to the tune “Do Not Destroy.”[b]

Can you, panel of judges, get anything right?
    When you judge people, do you tell the truth and pursue justice?
No, your real selves have been revealed. You have wickedness in your heart,
    and many people have suffered by your hands.

Evildoers are naturally offensive, wayward at birth!
    They were born telling lies and willfully wandering from the truth.
Their bite is painful; their venom is like the deadly poison of a snake;
    they are like a cobra that closes up its ears
To escape the voice of the charmers,
    no matter how enchanting the spells may be.

O God, shatter their teeth in their mouths!
    Render the young lions harmless; break out their fangs, O Eternal One.
Let them run off like the waters of a flood,
    and though they aim their arrows, let them fly without their heads.
Let them melt like a snail that oozes along;
    may they be like a stillborn that never catches its first breath, never sees the sun.
Before your cook pots know the furious flame of a fire of thorns—
    whether green or burning—He will blow the wicked away.

10 Cheers will rise as the right-living watch Him settle the score,
    their feet washed in the blood after the onslaught of the wicked.
11 And it will be heard, “Those who seek justice will be rewarded.
    Indeed, there is a God who brings justice to the earth!”


  1. 58:title Hebrew, miktam, meaning is uncertain.
  2. 58:title Hebrew, al-tashheth, meaning is uncertain.

Eternal One: If a husband divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he ever go back to her again? Such behavior would violate what is right, and the land itself would be tainted with sin. Now you, Judah, have acted like a whore and taken on many lovers. Why are you trying to return to Me now?

    Look up to the hilltops. Take a good look.
        Is there anywhere you have not committed perverse acts in the company of other gods?
    You sat on the side of the road, offering yourself to lovers;
        like a desert nomad you waited, patiently.
    Even the land itself is tainted by your prostitution and wickedness.

From the beginning, the covenant between God and His people is clear. They are to worship and trust Him alone. They are to remain true to His teachings. So when God sees His people worshiping idols made of stone and wood, when He sees them participating in demeaning sexual practices with prostitutes as part of local fertility rites, it is too much. The people of Judah have been unfaithful in nearly every way imaginable. They have witnessed what happened to the adulterous Northern Kingdom of Israel. But somehow, these stubborn people think they are special, even immune to such disaster. They think if they say the right prayers in the right ways to the right God from time to time, then all the blatant violations of God’s covenant will be ignored. The prophet Jeremiah sees it all differently.

God will send out a message to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom, which He still calls Israel. For decades, those people have been scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire to the north, while their land has been under enemy occupation. But despite the tribes’ faithlessness, these many years later, the God of mercy offers to restore them. In the midst of divine judgment, God utters words of hope; but this hope, this restoration, is only found in true repentance.

    That is why I have held back the rain,
        why the spring rains have not come.
    But you still look and act the part of a prostitute—
        unfazed, unashamed.
    But wait, did you just now call out to Me, saying,
        “My Father, You have been my friend, my confidant since I was young”?
    You ask, “Surely He won’t be angry forever, will He?
        Surely He won’t hold this against us to the end, right?”
    This is how you talk—as if all I want are your words;
        meanwhile you continue in your selfish and evil ways.

Then the Eternal who rules over all of history reminded me of a lesson my people, Judah, should have learned from Israel a century ago. He spoke these words to Judah early in my career, during the days of Josiah the king.

Eternal One: Have you not learned anything from Israel’s unfaithful ways? How she turned away from Me, went up every high hill and under every green tree to worship another. She acted like a prostitute and broke our covenant there. I thought, “After she’s done all this, she’ll return home to Me,” but it never happened. She didn’t come back. And her deceitful sister, Judah, saw all of this and learned nothing. She saw that I sent unfaithful Israel away with a decree of divorce for these acts of adultery. But it didn’t matter to her deceitful sister, Judah. She wasn’t afraid or moved by any of this. She went her own way and played the prostitute as well. In fact, because her own infidelity bothered her so little, she defiled the land by committing adultery, worshiping stones and trees instead of Me. 10 And while this was a lesson to be learned by deceitful Judah, it was an opportunity lost—for she never learned it; she never completely returned to Me. She only pretended to be Mine, as if empty words would satisfy Me.

11 (to Jeremiah) Despite her faithlessness, Israel has proven to be more righteous than her deceitful sister, Judah. 12 Now go and cry out these words of hope to those people in the north:

    “Return to Me, faithless Israel.
        I will look on you with mercy, not anger.
        I will not hold this grudge against you forever.
13     Just admit what you did—your sin against Me.
        How you rebelled against the Eternal your God.
    How you gave yourself away to these foreign gods in the open, under the trees!
        How you disobeyed My voice.
14     Come back home, My restless, faithless ones,
        for I am your master, your husband (not that other god),
    And I will take you in—one from this city, two from that clan;
        I will bring you home to Zion.

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Paul, servant of God and emissary[a] of Jesus, the Anointed One, on behalf of the faith that is accepted by God’s chosen people and the knowledge of the undeniable truth that leads to godliness.

Paul is ready to defend the truth. He knows it is pure and honorable. He knows that it comes from and leads back to God. In contrast, Paul perceives the constant threat of false teaching that produces chaos, overturns entire families, and is filled with myths and instructions taught by those outside the faith. This counter-truth is filled with lusts and passions that tear down others, and it results in petty debates over family trees with fights and disagreements over the law. The line is clearly drawn between them. Paul leaves no room to sit on the fence; there is no partial truth—the future of the church is at stake.

We rest in this hope we’ve been given—the hope that we will live forever with our God—the hope that He proclaimed ages and ages ago (even before time began). And our God is no liar; He is not even capable of uttering lies. So we can be sure that it is in His exact right time that He released His word into the world—through the preaching that God our Savior has commanded into my care.

His word brings into the world the absolute clarity of God’s perspective and life-saving knowledge.

To you, Titus, my dear son birthed through our shared faith: may grace and peace rest upon you from God the Father and Jesus the Anointed, our Savior.

I left you on Crete so you could sort out the chaos and the unfinished business and appoint elders over communities in each and every city according to my earlier orders. Here’s what you should look for in an elder: he should be above suspicion; if he is married, he should be the husband of one wife, raise children who believe, and be a person who can’t be accused of rough and raucous living. It is necessary that any overseer you appoint be blameless, as he is entrusted with God’s mission. Look for someone who isn’t pompous or quick to anger, who is not a drunkard, violent, or chasing after seedy gain or worldly fame. Find a person who lovingly opens his home to others; who honors goodness; who is thoughtful, fair, devout, self-controlled; and who clings to the faithful word that was taught because he must be able, not only to encourage people with sound teaching, but also to challenge those who are against it.

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  1. 1:1 Literally, apostle

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