Centuries later, Paul will write: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Where would the Apostle get such a pessimistic view of humanity?
From the Psalter – for nearly the entirety of that text (Romans 3:10-18) comes from the Psalms (including Psalm 140). After forty years of ministry, listening to and commiserating with people whose lives have been broken by the depravity of others (and yes, also their own), I confess my conclusion that mankind is not basically good. God created us to be that way, but the devil has done a masterful job of destroying Eden. It’s not that He is so powerful: it’s that being bad is so easy.
As we’ve seen so many times in the Psalms, the Psalmist himself is no saint. He wishes for others precisely what they have done to him. While I believe God would rather us speak our vengeance to Him and entrust His justice and wisdom, I also believe He’d like to see less of this attitude in the hearts of His people. More than that, I think He would like to see less of it in the hearts of all people.