Psalm 58 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 58

“Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;

like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.”  Psalm 58:8

I do not like Psalm 58.  Let me repeat, I really do not like Psalm 58.  I am offended by some of the metaphors, like “snails into slime.” (I like snails; they carry their shelter like backpackers.)  Then there is the curse involving miscarriages not seeing sun. (I think lost life is to be cherished and mourned.)   You can read the whole psalm here.  But my objections over its metaphors isn’t really the point. The point is that the psalmist has confronted evil so profoundly horrifying that the psalmist dredges up epithets to rain down on the witnessed evil, and if those curses involve both snails and stillborn, so be it.  So while I want to avoid Psalm 58,  I am repulsed by evil even more.  I remember listening to a story of abuse inflicted on the innocent that wrenched my heart so much I wanted the perpetrator nailed to a stone wall.  I confess it.  I dislike Psalm 58, but at the same time I am relieved that an ancient psalmist had the courage to curse the powerful evil that brought such harm on another.  I will stand at the cursing wall and honor the innocent.  But I know I cannot live by Psalm 58 alone.  There is no life there.  No, ultimately there is no life at the cursing wall.

Suggestions:

1. Read Psalm 58 and ponder its meaning for you.  What do you notice?  What do you dislike?  When have you stood at the “cursing wall?”  How were you able to let go?

2. Or comment with a photo of your own that illustrates this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 59.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at http://elainedent.net or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.

 

Comments

  1. After reading this Psalm several times, I feel it, unfortunately, reflects the political atmosphere of today.

  2. I have to agree that this is a psalm that is so hard to grasp. I have a hard time reconciling righteousness and vengeance, especially with a vengeance that is so harshly described. Perhaps I just can’t relate to the context and culture. Or perhaps my concept of vengeance is so warped and self-serving, I can’t understand what it means in a God (who is love) context. I can well imagine Westboro finding fuel here. 🙁 I definitely have need to be taught to understand rightly! Yet I can certainly proclaim with the psalmist that i long to be within a culture that loves righteousness, which as Bonnie pointed out, is sadly not ours.

  3. Bonnie, I agree. I think it is a typically human response to want to take revenge when we feel wronged, and there is so much wrongness in the world. It’s much harder for me to pray for those people than to just want them gone! (or struck by lightning or, as Pastor E said, nailed to a wall..)

  4. I’m just catching up on this today…I find it refreshing that you are able to say that you do not like this Psalm. I also found it interesting that under the number of this Psalm, it says, For the director of music. To the tune of, Do Not Destroy. A lot of anger in this Psalm…