Psalms 58:1


King James Version (KJV)

Do you indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do you judge uprightly, O you sons of men?

American King James Version (AKJV)

Do you indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do you judge uprightly, O you sons of men?

American Standard Version (ASV)

Do ye indeed in silence speak righteousness? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

Basic English Translation (BBE)

<To the chief music-maker; put to Al-tashheth. Michtam. Of David.> Is there righteousness in your mouths, O you gods? are you upright judges, O you sons of men?

Webster's Revision

To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam of David. Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

World English Bible

Do you indeed speak righteousness, silent ones? Do you judge blamelessly, you sons of men?

English Revised Version (ERV)

For the Chief Musician; set to Al-tashheth. A Psalm of David: Michtam. Do ye indeed in silence speak righteousness? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

Clarke's Psalms 58:1 Bible Commentary

Do ye indeed speak righteousness - Or, O cabinet seeing ye profess to act according to the principles of justice, why do ye not give righteous counsels and just decisions, ye sons of men? Or, it may be an irony: What excellent judges you are! well do ye judge according to law and justice, when ye give decisions not founded on any law, nor supported by any principle of justice! To please your master, ye pervert judgment; and take part against the innocent, in order to retain your places and their emoluments. Saul's counsellors appear to have done so, though in their consciences they must have been satisfied of David's innocence.

Barnes's Psalms 58:1 Bible Commentary

Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? - Luther renders this, "Are you then dumb, that you will not speak what is right, and judge what is proper, ye children of men?" The meaning of the verse is exceedingly obscure; but probably the whole sense of the psalm turns on it. The word rendered "congregation," אלם 'êlem - occurs only in this place and in the title to Psalm 56:1-13, "Jonath-elem-rechokim." See the notes at that title. The word properly means "dumbness, silence." Gesenius (Lexicon) renders it here, "Do ye indeed decree dumb justice?" that is, "Do ye really at length decree justice, which so long has seemed dumb?" Professor Alexander renders it, "Are ye indeed dumb when ye should speak righteousness?" The allusion is clearly to some public act of judging; to a judicial sentence; to magistrates and rulers; to people who "should" give a righteous sentence; to those in authority who "ought" to pronounce a just opinion on the conduct of others.

The "fact" in the case on which the appeal is made seems to have been that they did "not" do this; that their conduct was wicked and perverse; that no reliance could be placed on their judicial decisions. Rosenmuller renders it, "There is, in fact, silence of justice;" that is, justice is not declared or spoken. Perhaps the meaning of the phrase may be thus expressed: "Is there truly a dumbness or silence of justice when ye speak? do you judge righteously, O ye sons of men?" That is, "You indeed speak; you do declare an opinion; you pronounce a sentence; but justice is, in fact, dumb or silent when you do it. There is no correct or just judgment in the matter. The opinion which is declared is based on error, and has its origin in a wicked heart." There is no expression in the original to correspond to the words "O congregation" in our translation, unless it is the word אלם 'êlem, which never has this signification.

It is not so rendered in any of the versions. It is not easy to determine "who" is referred to by this question. It cannot be, as is implied in our common version, that it is to any "congregation," any people gathered together for the purpose of pronouncing judgment. Yet it is evidently a reference to some persons, or classes of persons, who were expected to "judge," or to whom it pertained to pass judgment; and the most natural supposition is that the reference is to the rulers of the nation - to Saul, and the heads of the government. If the supposition is correct that the psalm was composed, like Psalm 56:1-13; Psalm 57:1-11; 59, in the time of the Sauline persecutions, and that it belongs to the same "group" of psalms, then it would have reference to Saul and to those who were associated with him in persecuting David. The subject of the psalm would then be the unjust judgments which they passed on him in treating him as an enemy of the commonwealth; in regarding him as an outlaw, and in driving him from his places of refuge as if hunting him down like a wild beast. The contents of the psalm well accord with this explanation.

Do ye judge uprightly? - Do you judge right things? are your judgments in accordance with truth and justice?

O ye sons of men - Perhaps referring to the fact that in their judgments they showed that they were people - influenced by the common passions of people; in other words, they showed that they could not, in forming their judgments, rise above the corrupt passions and prejudices which usually influence and sway mankind.

Wesley's Psalms 58:1 Bible Commentary

58:1 O congregation - The word seems to point at Saul's judges and counsellors; who met together to consult what they should do against David. Sons of men - So he calls them; to mind them that they were men, and must give an account to God for all their hard speeches.

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