A Lesson in Biblical Anthropology (Psalm 40; Psalm 58)

Scripture reading – Psalm 40; Psalm 58

The titles of Psalm 40 and Psalm 58 identify David as the author. Psalm 40 is addressed, “To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David.” While I cannot say with certainty the date or setting of the psalm, its subject matter parallels the circumstances the king was facing when Absalom led an insurrection against him. [On a personal note; because I am inclined to preach from Psalm 40 this Sunday, October 3, I have chosen Psalm 58 as the focus of this devotional.]

Psalm 58 is titled, “To the chief Musician, Altaschith [i.e. “do not destroy”], Michtam [poem] of David.” The setting of the psalm is uncertain, but David’s observations concerning the nature of the wicked fits well in the midst of the insurrection led by his son Absalom.

Psalm 58 – A a study in Anthropology and a challenge to the 21st century worldview of man.

Modern Anthropology is a study of man’s past, his behavior, biology, intellect, language, culture, and society (notice the study of man as a spiritual being is not a topic addressed by anthropologists). Though humanists deny the existence of a Creator, Biblical Anthropology observes man as a created, spiritual being (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 21-24). While evolutionists propose unproven (and therefore, unscientific) theories to explain man’s origin and person, creationists accept the Genesis creation account by faith. I believe God created mankind in his likeness (Genesis 1:27), and men and women are eternal beings with soul and spirit (Genesis 2:7).

Two Opposing, Incompatible Worldviews

The world today is dominated by an atheistic, militant, evolutionary worldview, known as Humanism.  Humanists rule secular education, and they view humanity through a lens that not only rejects God as Creator, but discards the observable evidences of man’s spiritual depravity.

The humanists observe societal problems (crimes, violence, murder, rape, child abuse, human trafficking, et al), and explain them as environmental concerns; thus, man is a victim, not of his choices, but of his environment. The Word of God, by contrast, declares man’s problem is a spiritual one of the heart; and all are born sinful, morally depraved beings (Romans 3:10, 23).

Psalm 58 is a brief exposition of the character of sinful man. Penned 3,000 years ago, the psalm affords us an insight into the societal problems of our day, minus the political jargon that denies, and masks the wickedness of men. With that explanation as our background, allow me a brief exposition of Psalm 58.

The Failure of God’s People (58:1)

If the setting of Psalm 58 is the time of Absalom’s insurrection, then the two questions that introduce the psalm are springing from the heart of a father that is dismayed by what has befallen him, his household, and kingdom. The majority of Israel had followed Absalom’s rebellion, and David asked them: “Do ye indeed speak righteousness?” (58:1a) In other words, do you assume your cause is righteous, because you have a great following? Have you forgotten, you are but men yourselves? (58:1b)

The Character of the Wicked (58:2-5)

Man is sinful from conception, and wickedness is fixed in his heart. It is man’s nature to be violent (58:2). From the womb, man is turned aside from God, and is full of lies and deceit (58:3). His tongue is full of poison, like the bite of a viper, and cannot be restrained (58:4-5).

The Judgment of the Wicked (58:6-9)

David’s focus turns from the character of the wicked to God’s judgment, and their certain punishment. The king cried to the LORD to break the teeth of those who desired to devour, and destroy him (58:6). He prayed the strength of the wicked would melt away, like melting snow. When his enemy bends the bow to shoot, David prayed they would be cut in pieces (58:7). He cried to the LORD that his enemies would fade as the trail of a snail, and shrivel in the heat of the day. He longed that those who wished to destroy him would be as a stillborn babe, and their devices never see the day (58:8). Indeed, let the wicked be taken “away as with a whirlwind” (58:9).

The Rejoicing of the Righteous (58:10-11)

The psalm concluded with David anticipating the righteous rejoicing in God’s justice (58:10). Though the godly are not seeking vengeance, they are living in anticipation that the LORD rewards the righteous, and is a sovereign Judge.

Closing thoughts – While humanists, and the disingenuous claim the heart of man is good, God observes the heart of man is “evil continually” (Genesis 6:5) and “deviseth mischief continually” (Proverbs 6:14).

Let all who are redeemed be reminded, the wicked will not escape punishment and the righteous will be vindicated!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith