# 202 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 58 A psalm with a social conscience

Not that it is anything new, but watching the news on TV these days will reveal a number of nations where the populations are staging demonstrations, protesting against their government for various reasons. Just to name some of these countries, presently they include Lebanon, Hong Kong, Spain, Chile, Iraq and Ecuador. The issues being protested against include corruption in high places, economic inequality, lack of jobs, poverty, high energy costs, lack of political freedom, and most probably much more.

So, are these protests justifiable?  Well, of course it depends on who you ask. Ask the protesters and they will very passionately tell you why they are out on the streets. Ask the politicians and you will most probably get a different response, although, it has to be said, some leaders have tried to make changes endeavouring to sought out some of the issues brought by their people. Unfortunately, all too often, what starts out as peaceful protests, escalates into violence.

Basically, what people want in life is justice! They desire that their leaders rule with equity.

And this is what David wanted as expressed in Psalm 58 when he asked them the question:

 1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?

Then, sadly, answered his own question with the pathetic truth that:

No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

As Wilcock says, “This then is a psalm with a social conscience. It is concerned with the kind of wickedness in high places which has not only bungled or neglected those things which it ought to have done, but has also done those things which it ought not to have done – indeed, planned and perpetrated them with ruthless care.” 

David is indignant “about this state of affairs in government and administration…[and] in the realms of law…[his] is a well-founded ‘sense of outrage’…”

And, Wilcock asks us a very pertinent question for today. He asks, “which is more appropriate – ‘an impassioned curse’, or ‘a shrug of the shoulders or a diplomatic silence’?    (# 5)

Although it seems there could be a number of possible sources for the quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”, the point is still made, and certainly David was an outspoken advocate for justice in the midst of injustice.

As the Passion Translation puts it:

The godly will celebrate in the triumph of good over evil.
And the lovers of God will trample
the wickedness of the wicked under their feet!
11 Then everyone will say, “There is a God who judges the judges”
and “There is a great reward in loving God!”    
(58:10-11)

Jesus, the One who was full of grace and truth and compassion, also spoke out in the face of the wrongs in Jewish society. A well-known example recorded for us is in Matthew 21:12-13.

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Jesus’ “target is those who are fleecing the pilgrims. The moneychangers exchanged the pilgrims’ ‘dirty’ pagan coinage into ‘pure’ Tyrian shekels to buy sacrifices and…they took there cut. They also clogged up the Court of the Gentiles. God’s vision of the nations at worship [see Isaiah 56] is being grossly violated. By his prophetic act of cleansing the temple. Jesus enacts the opening of access to God for all people.” This ultimately through his death and resurrection. (SU notes – Encounter with God 28.11.19)

So, the psalmist (in Psalm 33:5) reminds us that, The Lord loves righteousness and justice, and, as his people, so should we.

In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” Amen.   

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