Psalm 58:1-5 Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men? No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth. Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skilful the enchanter may be.
What a wonderful and important reminder these verses are of both the nature and the power of God’s saving grace! In Adam, we all come into this world in the class of what the Scriptures refer to as ‘the wicked’. Later theologians called this ‘Original Sin’, and in the early seventeenth century the Synod of Dordt formulated the Canons of Dordt which became popularised as the Five Points of Calvinism, the First Point being ‘Total Depravity’. The adverb ‘Total’ refers not to the depth of our depravity but the breadth of it. In other words it recognises the Biblical truth that there is no part of our lives/personalities/understanding that escapes the effect of the Fall in Adam.
We can’t escape unaided from this condition – it is ‘built into’ who we all are as descendants of Adam. We are ‘like the cobra that has stopped its ears’; by nature we are completely ‘deaf’ to the message of God’s redeeming love in Christ. The Psalmist (King David) also reminds us here that even the best and most skilful oratory of the evangelist can never penetrate innately deaf ears that “will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skilful the enchanter might be.” No, it is only a miracle of God’s grace that will open deaf ears, and all of us who have come to put our trust in Christ are ‘trophies of God’s grace’ alone (Ephesians 2:8-10).
This is a very humbling realisation, “so that no-one can boast”! But it also important to learn from this that in all our efforts in evangelism there is little point in earnestly ‘talking to people about God’ if we are not simultaneously, and just as earnestly, ‘talking to God about people’. Prayer is the most powerful tool even the most skilful ’enchanter’ possesses, because salvation is God’s work of grace from start to finish!
It is also important to note David’s reminder that, apart from God’s grace, our ‘rulers’ (members of parliament, legislators, educationalists, etc.) are fellow-partakers with us in Adam’s fallen nature and, therefore, the most important thing we can do for the future of our nation and our children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance, is to follow the urging of the Apostle Paul: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Let us all be urgent, pleading and persistent in these prayers.
– Bruce Christian