New European Commentary


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Psa 52:1 For the Chief Musician. A contemplation by David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, David has come to Abimelech’s house- This incident caused the slaughter of the 85 priests of Abimelech's family (1 Sam. 22:18). These are David's reflections upon this.

Why do you boast of mischief, mighty man? God’s grace endures continually-
Doeg apparently boasted about the slaughter of the priests. "Mighty man" is the word used of Goliath the "champion" (1 Sam. 17:51). As his proud boasts had been brought down by God's grace working through David, so David believed Doeg would eventually be conquered likewise; see on :2 for another allusion to Goliath. We can also look to past precedents in our lives for encouragement as to how God will finally come through for us.

Psa 52:2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully-
David was to later plot the destruction of Uriah by his words; and when he repented of this in Ps. 32:2, he says that lack of deceit / guile (s.w.) is only possible through imputed righteousness. David's intolerance of "deceitful" persons (Ps. 52:2; 101:7; 120:3) must be compared with the fact that he himself was only counted as not deceitful by grace; for he was very deceitful regarding Uriah. "Razor" is the same word used for the sheath of Goliath's sword (1 Sam. 17:51); the same verse speaks of Goliath as the "champion", s.w. "mighty man" in :1.

Psa 52:3 You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking the truth. Selah-
"Lying" reflects again David's deep sense of injustice (see on Ps. 35:7). He uses the word for "false witness", as if they were breaking one of the ten commandments; and he uses it often, heaping condemnation upon any who dare lie / bear false witness about him (Ps. 38:19; 52:3; 63:11; 101:7; 119:29,69,86,118; 120:2; 144:8,11). And yet David lied and deceived in order to get Uriah killed so that he could take his wife for himself. Surely reflection upon that sin made him realize that his zeal to condemn dishonesty was at best misplaced; to lament it is one thing, but David was to be taught that he had himself done the very thing he so condemned.

Psa 52:4 You love all devouring words, you deceitful tongue-
Doeg is here addressed as if he is his own tongue. As "the word was God", so a man is his words. This points up the critical importance of our words.

Psa 52:5 God will likewise destroy you forever-
Doeg would be destroyed "likewise" by the sword, as the priests were slain by the sword; but "forever", perhaps implying that David understood the destruction of the 85 priests as not being "forever" in that they would be resurrected.

He will take you up, and pluck you out of your tent, and root you out of the land of the living. Selah- "Tent" is appropriate as Doeg lived in a tent as an itinerant herdsman (1 Sam. 21:7).

Psa 52:6 The righteous also will see it, and fear, and laugh at him, saying-
This is best understood as the language of the last judgment, as there is no evidence that it happened to Doeg in this life. There is a Biblical theme that the judgment seat will be before all; the righteous will see the wicked walking naked in their shame; and will see the destruction of Doeg, resurrected and condemned to the second death.

Psa 52:7 Behold, this is the man who didn’t make God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness-
Doeg clearly was motivated by a love of riches, and was rewarded by Saul materially for bringing about the betrayal of David and the slaughter of the priests.

Psa 52:8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in God’s house. I trust in God’s grace forever and ever-
At the time of the Psalm (:1), David was still on the run from Saul. But he felt as if he was in the sanctuary. The "house" of God was not then built; perhaps this was added in the exile, to encourage the exiles that like David they by God's eternal grace could likewise effectively be in His "house"- even whilst in exile from it.

Psa 52:9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it. I will hope in Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your saints
- David speaks of that yet future as if it is yet done. This is how God sees things, and the invitation to have faith is an invitation to see things from His perspective. David sees himself at the last day in the presence of other faithful ones, thanking God for His judgments upon the wicked.