Psalm 58 — How to pray when enemies hurt you — Reading the Psalms

For the Chief Musician; set to Al-tashheth. A Psalm of David: Michtam.

1 Do ye indeed in silence speak righteousness?
Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?
2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness;
Ye weigh out 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 hearkeneth not 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 water that runneth apace:
When he aimeth his arrows, let them be as though they were cut off.
8 Let them be as a snail which melteth and passeth away:
Like the untimely birth of a woman, that hath not seen the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the thorns,
He shall take them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike.
10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance:
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 So that men shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous:
Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.

Do you know the pain of enemies? I knew sorrow and pain, and even tasted what it was to be depressed without escape. Yet, the pain of enemies wa a different experience for me. Before I knew  enemies, I would read psalms like this and experience them only intellectually. I had not the imagination to comprehend a pain so extreme that one could wish these ideas on another. I often felt authors of psalms like these to be uncharitable like Jesus wants.

I’ve grown to change my mind. I have felt the poisonous words of enemies enter into my body and try to change my heart. I have seen the enemy refuse to be charmed or hear a single word to curb their behavior or trajectory. When I speak with the abused, their abuser feel my own enemy as well as theirs. If you struggle still with accepting the harsh words of this psalm, pray for understanding. There is a reason God himself spoke these words through his prophet.

Estranged from the womb, their corrupt hearts drive them to greater corruption. Sin – the absence of God’s goodness – seeks to destroy all the good God created and to unseat what our sovereign savior established. This is the work of the enemy, be it Satan himself, or those who in their selfish pride walk their own wayward path.

What can we do in the face of such evil? What can we say to one who stops up their ears to good words in order to continue to bite and devour? We may pray for God to break their teeth. That God will cut off their arrows mid flight. That God, in his vengeance on our behalf, will make both them and their works to melt like a salted slug or be as impotent as a stillborn child. These are horrible thoughts, are they not?

If your heart is crushed by an enemy, use God’s word in prayer. Do not trust your own heart or words; who knows whether you will say what is right or if, in the devil’s despair, speak words of evil? God wrote psalms like this for you to pray in your lamentation. Trust in God’s words. Trust in God’s vengeance.

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