Chances are, you’ve never prayed Psalm 58.
Chances are, you’ve probably wanted to.
David was a man with many enemies, and he prayed for them often. But not as we would expect. David often prayed not for the well-being of his enemies, but their elimination. These are the “impreccatory” Psalms that I’ve mentioned before and Psalm 58 is one of the more bold of those.
David specifically speaks against people in power who, in the use of their office, twist justice into something unrecognizable. Despite what some claim of 58:3, this Psalm does not actually say that people are born evil. David’s observation is simply that some people have been that way all their lives. David does not suggest a campaign to stamp out evil, but rather enlists the aid of God who can do the job rapidly with surgical skill.
The psalmist refers to pots feeling the heat of thorns. Thorns were sometimes used to kindle fires. David’s request is that God will wipe away the wicked before the fire is good and hot.
Can we pray such a psalm? There are times I’ve wanted to, and I’d suggest that praying it is better than doing it. Psalms like this help us to see what faithful people do with dangerous feelings, and give us a vocabulary with which to do it.