on Psalms 58 :10
The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance - He shall have a strong proof of the Divine providence, of God's hatred against sinners, and his continual care of his followers.
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked - This can only mean that the slaughter would be so great, and at the same time so very nigh to the dwelling of the righteous, that he could not go out without dipping his feet in the blood of the wicked. The Syriac, Vulgate, Septuagint, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon, read hands instead of feet. Every thing that is vindictive in the Psalms must be considered as totally alien from the spirit of the Gospel, and not at all, under our dispensation, to be imitated. If the passage above be really vindictive, and it certainly will admit of the interpretation given above, it is to be considered as not belonging to that state in which the Son of man is come, not to destroy men's lives, but to save.
on Psalms 58 :10
The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance - When he sees the just punishment inflicted on the wicked. He will approve of it; he will see that it is right; he will be glad that law is maintained, and that wickedness does not triumph; he will rejoice in the safety of those who do right, and in their deliverance from the assaults and the designs of the wicked. People everywhere approve of the just administration of law, even though it consigns the transgressors to prison or to death; and it is a matter of gratification to all who love law and order when a righteous government is maintained; when wickedness is checked; when justice is administered in a community. This is the end of government and of law; this is what all magistrates are appointed to secure; this is what all good citizens are aiming to accomplish. There is no evidence that the psalmist had any vindictive or revengeful feeling when he uttered the sentiment in this verse. See the notes at Psalm 52:6. Compare Psalm 37:34; Psalm 40:3.
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked - Compare Psalm 68:23. The image here is taken from a battlefield, where the victor treads in the blood of the slain. It is strong language denoting the entire overthrow of the wicked. There can be no doubt, however, that the allusion is to the "feelings" of satisfaction and triumph with which a victor walks over such a field; the exultation which he has that his foes are subdued, and that he has triumphed. The "idea" is that the righteous will have emotions, when the wicked are subdued and punished, which in some respects "resemble" the feelings of the victor who walks over a field covered with the blood of the slain. Still it is not "necessary" to suppose that these are, in either case, vindictive feelings; or that either the victor or the righteous have pleasure in the shedding of blood, or in the sufferings of others; or that they would not have preferred that the discomfited and slain should "not" have been wicked, and should "not" have been made to suffer in this manner. All that is "essentially" implied in this is, that there is a feeling of satisfaction and approval when law is vindicated, and when the triumph of wickedness is prevented. It would be difficult to show that the feelings expressed by the psalmist are "less" proper than those which an officer of justice "may" have, and "ought" to have, and "does" have, when he has faithfully discharged his duty, and has secured the arrest and punishment of the violators of law; or that the psalmist has expressed anything more than every man must feel who sees "just" punishment inflicted on the guilty. Assuredly it is a matter of rejoicing that wickedness does "not" triumph; it is a thing to exult in when it "is" arrested.
on Psalms 58 :10