This is from my journal meditation on Psalm 58. Psalm 58 is not a go-to passage for Advent, but perhaps it ought to be.
The world reels at the revelation of some new credible accusation of immorality or at the scope of injustice that still happens in our supposedly enlightened, evolved era. Slavery, rape, sexual assault, racism, and more all exist today and seem to thrive unabated. Christians are persecuted more than any other century in the Church’s history.
Rather than being on the “wrong side of history,” the Christian stands with the Judge of all the earth in the middle of history. It is not yet the end. Judgment will come one day, some day, but perhaps not today. It will still come, and that’s David’s foundation for Psalm 58.
Injustice is not a mirage nor misunderstanding; David refuses to be gaslighted by Satan or the wicked (58:1-2). We desperately need the reflex of asking, “Do you really speak righteously, you mighty ones? Do you judge people fairly?” and then honestly answering, “No, you practice injustice in your hearts; with your hands you weigh out violence in the land” (58:1-2 CSB).
The wicked are so from birth, and no charmer’s recorder can whistle a tune to charm them. They are deaf to the cries of those they oppress.
David trusts in God’s righteous judgment, both now and future. He prays that they would be broken and swept away from their oppressive ways.
The sight of righteousness will cause the saints to rejoice, since their long waiting has ended. Though it may not seem so now, one day, some day, we will know with visible certainty that “there is a reward for the righteous,” that “there is a God who judges on earth!” (58:11 CSB).
The problem is, we too are wicked from the womb, deaf to the charms of righteousness’ flute. We practice unrighteousness and injustice. We deserve judgment. The only way this can be a psalm of good news is if that judgment can be meted out, but not on us.
It’s not enough to simply not give justice; that gives no hope. That lets righteousness go unpunished.
Justice must be done and its wrath spent. However we avoid wrath, we still must be able to say at the end, “There is a God who judges on earth!”
That’s why the Incarnation matters. That’s why Advent matters. That’s why imputed righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) matters.
I deserve to be swept away, consumed by fiery wrath for my anger, selfishness, for all the immorality bound up in my heart.
Yet Jesus came, so that “the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why he is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11 CSB).
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel!