Psalms – Chapter 58

Snake Dentistry

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Like the previous Psalm, this one begins with the plea “do not destroy.”

David asks his detractors why suddenly they’re so quiet. They didn’t hesitate to speak up to criticize him, but now that it’s clear that David is innocent, they don’t say a word. It word be appropriate for them to speak the truth and concede, but instead they say nothing. They’re simply corrupt.

The wicked are distanced from G-d even while they’re still in the womb, David says. They’re poisonous like a snake and they refuse to hear the truth if it doesn’t forward their own agendas. David hopes that G-d will render them harmless like one would remove a snake’s fangs. To use another dental metaphor, if David’s pursuers are great men like lions, their attacks are like the teeth of a young lion.

David prays that his foes melt away from their own troubles and that G-d afflict them as if with arrows. His enemies should be history, leaving but a trail like that of a snail. They should have the impact of a stillborn, that never saw the light of day. (The verse might mean the stillborn of a woman or the stillborn of a mole, a creature that is birthed underground and then never sees sun.)

G-d will bring a storm upon young evil people before they have a chance to mature into hardened criminals. The righteous will rejoice when they see G-d take this action. They will metaphorically stride in the spilled blood of the deceased wicked and humanity will recognize that there’s a G-d Who rewards and punishes.

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