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PSALM 58

To him that presides; Al-taschith; Michtam of David.

  1. Do you indeed speak justice, O you mighty ones; do you judge uprightly, O you sons of man?
  2. Yea, in heart you work wickedness, and your hands weigh out violence in the earth.
  3. The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from the belly, speaking lies.
  4. Their venom is like the venom of a serpent, like that of the deaf adder which stops her ear;
  5. Which hears not the voice of charmers, of those skilled in enchantments.
  6. O god, destroy their teeth in their mouths; break out the great teeth of the lions, O jehovah.
  7. Let them melt away, and be as water; let them pass away: when they direct their arrows, let them be blunted.
  8. Let them be as a snail, which melts as it moves along; as an untimely birth of a woman, let them never see the sun.
  9. Before your pots can feel the thorns, whether they be green or dry, let him sweep them away.
  10. The just shall be glad, when he sees vengeance; he shall bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
  11. And man shall say, verily there is a reward for the just; verily, god is a judge in the earth.

The Internal Sense

Against those who were then of the church, who thought evil against the lord, that they were in the mere falses of evil, by which they perish, verses 1 to 9; that they who are in good come into the church, verses 10, 11.

Exposition

Verse 3. The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray from the belly, speaking lies. It is not here meant that the wicked are estranged from the womb, and that they go astray from the belly, that is, from their first birth, for no one from that birth is estranged from god, and goes astray; but to be estranged from the womb signifies that they have departed from good to evil from the first day, when they were capable of being reformed; and to go astray from the belly signifies that, in like manner, they have departed from truths to falses; to speak a lie also signifies to believe falses. AE 710.

Verse 4. Their venom is like the venom of a serpent. That serpents in the Word, signify the sensual man as to craftiness or subtlety, and as to prudence, may appear from the following passages: thus in Moses, "The serpent was made subtle above every wild beast of the field, which jehovah god made," Gen 3:1; by the serpent here mentioned, is not understood the serpent, but the sensual man, and, in the general sense, the sensual principle itself, which is the ultimate of the human understanding: the reason why the serpent is called subtle above every wild beast of the field, is because of his having poison, and his bite being thence deadly, also from his hiding himself in lurking places; poison signifies craft and treachery, and thence the bite thereof, deadly hurt; and the lurking places from which he bites, and in which he conceals himself, signify subtleties. It is to be observed that all beasts signify affections, such as appertain to man, and serpents signify the affections of the sensual man, by reason of their creeping on the belly on the ground, in like manner as the sensual principle of men, for this is in the lowest place, and, as it were, creeps upon the ground under all other principles. The infernals are also crafty or subtle, because evil conceals in itself all subtlety and malice, as good does all prudence and wisdom; concerning this subject more may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, HH 567 to 581, where the malice and wicked acts of infernal spirits are treated of. Hence now it is that the devil or hell is called a serpent, as in the Apocalypse; "The dragon, the old serpent, the devil and satan, who seduces the whole world," Rev 12:9, 14, 15; 20:20; and in David; "Their venom is like the venom of a serpent," Psalm 58:4. AE 581.

Verse 6. O god, destroy their teeth in their mouths, break out the great teeth of the lions, O jehovah. Teeth in their mouths signify scientifics from which they produce falses; the great teeth of the lions signify the truths of the word falsified, which in themselves are falses, by which they mostly prevail to destroy the truths of the church. AE 556.

What the falsification of truth is, shall be illustrated by some examples; truth is falsified when from reasonings it is concluded and said, that because no man can do good from himself, therefore good is of no effect to salvation: truth is also falsified when it is said, that every good, which man does, respects himself, and is done for the sake of compensation, and this being the case, that works of charity are not to be done: truth is falsified when it is said, that because all good is from the lord, therefore man ought to do nothing of good, but to expect influx: truth is falsified when it is said, that truth can be given with man without the good which is of charity, thus faith without charity: truth is falsified when it is said, that no one can enter into heaven but who is miserable and poor; when it is also said, unless he gives his all to the poor and and plunges himself into distress: truth is falsified when it is said, that every one, however he has lived, may be admitted into heaven from mercy: truth is still more falsified when it is said, that there has been given to man the power of admitting into heaven whom he pleases: truth is falsified when it is said, that sins are wiped away and washed away like filth by water; and truth is still more falsified when it is said, that man has the power of remitting sins, and when they are remitted, that they are altogether wiped away and man becomes pure: truth is falsified when it is said, that the lord has taken all sins upon himself, and thus has taken them away, and that man thereby can be saved, whatever his life be: truth is falsified when it is said, that no one is saved but he who is within the church; the reasonings, by which falsification is effected, are, that they who are within the church, are baptized, have the Word, have knowledge concerning the lord, concerning the resurrection, concerning life eternal, concerning heaven, and concerning hell, and thus that they know what faith is by which they may be justified. There are innumerable cases like these, for there is not a single truth given which cannot be falsified, and the falsification be confirmed by reasonings from fallacies! AC 7318.

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verse 6. O God, destroy their teeth in their mouths, break out the great teeth of the lions, O jehovah. It is evident from this passage, that the two names god and jehovah are significative of two distinct principles in the divine being, god having more relation to the divine truth, and jehovah to the divine good. Accordingly god is supplicated to destroy the teeth of the wicked in their mouths, and jehovah to break out the great teeth of the lions, to instruct us, that truth may destroy the teeth [or false principles] of the wicked, but that the union of truth and good is necessary to break out the great teeth of the lions, in other words, to destroy truths falsified.

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