Psalm 52

Psalm 52

This Psalm is a contrast between the wicked and the righteous.  Doeg an evil persecutor and murderer is used to represent all those who murdered and persecuted God’s people through the ages extending back into the OT and forward into the NT and even is a very good representation of evil doers in our own day.

Here’s the account which is the occasion for writing.  David was in danger because Saul was seeking to kill him.  David fled to what he thought was a safe place.  Nob was a city of priests, where the ark of the Lord was kept, and also where Ahimelech, the high priest lived. 

Saul was irate when he heard David fled to Nob.  He sent for the priests who were harboring David to come and present themselves before to be charged with high treason.  Saul ordered that all the priests be put to death, but his men would not do it.  So, Saul knew who the right man for the job was, bloodthirsty wicked man named Doeg.  He killed them all.  Then he also went to Nob and killed all their families and herds.

1 Samuel 22:17–23 (ESV)

17 And the king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the Lord. 18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. 19 And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.

20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 23 Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”

Doeg is one of the evil people who was just doing his job.  The king ordered him to do this very wicked deed and he did it. 

This is a caution to us.  What will we do when someone in authority over us tells us to do something evil?

What if there are grave consequences for disobeying?

1.  Doeg, Murderer of Priests and Persecutor of David (52:1-4)

52 To the choirmaster. A Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?

The steadfast love of God endures all the day.

Your tongue plots destruction,

like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.

You love evil more than good,

and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah

You love all words that devour,

O deceitful tongue.

We see first the complete folly of evil.  Here God shows us evil for what it is.  The wicked often act as if they are mighty and powerful.  For a time, they may be.  Here, Doeg seemed in charge and he murdered many priests and their families. 

Notice how David focuses on the evil man’s wicked speech and tongue.  It is in this beginning stage that evil deeds are devised.  Internal plotting of the evil person is often where evil deeds are born.  The evil schemer plots death and destruction.

Verses 3-4 we see how the evil person’s values are completely distorted and twisted.  They are lovers of evil.

They love evil more than good

Lies more than truth

Words that devour more than words that build up

These are marks of the wicked throughout the ages.  We can see it very clearly today.  We should not be surprised when the wicked of this age speak words and promote ideas that simply are illogical.  They don’t care about facts because they love evil, lies, and destruction.  The more God pulls back His restraint the more they go in the direction of evil and destruction.

The evil person ultimately hates God and will stand for whatever the opposite is even when the opposite clearly is not true.

In vain did Doeg, the Edomite massacre the priests and their families but David was spared and kept by God.  It was God’s determination and providence to keep David safe.

Just like God keeping King David safe during the wrath of King Saul and Doeg the Edomite so to God kept Jesus safe during the rage of Herod the Edomite.  This is a foreshadow of Herod and the murder of the Infants in Bethlehem 2 years old and younger.

Matthew 2:16 (ESV)

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

He was an Idumean (a descendant of Esau) by ancestry. After the death of Julius Caesar, Herod was appointed “king of the Jews,”

Sadly, some estimates are as many as 14,000 babies were slaughtered by Herod in his jealous rage.  We must also remember that Herod did not kill any of them but ordered his soldiers to do it…they were just doing their job, right?

Our Lord suffered from His Words being twisted.  He suffered greatly when other told lies concerning Him.  In the life of the true David, the Son of God we see many speaking words that devour…

You love all words that devour,

O deceitful tongue.

Judas, Caiaphas, the people etc. 

Even though these liars seem to be in charge, we know that God was running things as He determined.  In the end Jesus would be vindicated.

2.  God’s Judgement on the Wicked (52: 5)

But God will break you down forever;

he will snatch and tear you from your tent;

he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah

No matter how strong the wicked try to present themselves, they will be uprooted and destroyed.  Here we see the example of a tree that God breaks down by bending it over until it breaks.  Then He tears it apart and pulls it up by its roots until there is nothing left to even remind anyone that it once stood there.  The tree is totally eradicated from the spot on which it grew.

This is how God will deal with all His enemies.  From the OT through the NT and even today and into the future.  His enemies seem powerful and may be in this world but one day, unless they repent, they will be utterly destroyed and their memory erased from all existence.

Literally, in the original Hebrew there are four verbs acting together showing God’s actions toward the evil people from all eras…

Bring down, snatch up, tear apart, and uproot.  They will be forcefully removed from existence.  With their removal, evil too will be removed.

3.  The Wicked Seek Refuge in Their Own Destruction (52:6-7)

The righteous shall see and fear,

and shall laugh at him, saying,

“See the man who would not make

God his refuge,

but trusted in the abundance of his riches

and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

Here we see that in the day of judgement, the righteous, those who are in Christ, stand in awe and fear when God passes judgement on the wicked who thought they were so mighty.   

Then awe and fear turn to joy as their former oppressors are being judged by God.  This is not a vindictive laughter but a joy that recognizes that God’s judgement is right and holy and just.  This is the joy of righteousness triumphing over evil.

Picture the scene, the 85 priests who were murdered and are in heaven with the Lord are joyful when Deog is judged.  When he is sent to hell, they laugh.

Revelation 19:1–5 (ESV)

19 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,


Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

for his judgments are true and just;

for he has judged the great prostitute

who corrupted the earth with her immorality,

and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Once more they cried out,


The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,

all you his servants,

you who fear him,

small and great.”

We must realize that God judges evil even if for a time evil prevails in our world.

Verse 7 tells us that those who will be judged by God are those who will not trust in Him but rather trust in themselves.  They live independently from God.  They better themselves at the expense of others.  The wicked think themselves to be a stronghold.  They turn to seek security in things that are temporary such as wealth, power, ill-gotten gain.  When his wealth and power are taken away, he has nothing.  This is the man who trusts in his wealth.

Proverbs 11:28 (ESV)

28  Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,

but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

   4.  Those Who Trust in the Lord Will Stand (52:8-9)

But I am like a green olive tree

in the house of God.

I trust in the steadfast love of God

forever and ever.

I will thank you forever,

because you have done it.

I will wait for your name, for it is good,

in the presence of the godly.

The righteous are also compared to a tree.  Here, those in Christ are like a green olive tree planted in the very house of God. 

God’s people, in contrast to the wicked who trust in themselves and seek to abuse others for their own advancement, God’s people trust in the steadfast love of God.  The wicked boast in their own abilities, their own wealth and power.  The righteous boast and trust in God and what He has done.

Those who trust in the Lord will live eternity with God in peace while the wicked, who had wealth and power while alive will suffer loss and torment in the life to come.

As we live by faith, we see that part of faith is confidence that God will make all things right in the world to come.  Faith foresees salvation, and anticipates the day of victory and triumph.  In the meantime, faith waits patiently for the Lord.  We are strengthened to endure hardship as we wait in confidence that the Lord is in control and in the end all things will be made right.

The destruction of the wicked, Doeg and Herod and those who do not trust in the Lord but trust in themselves will be a matter of praise for the church who has been martyred for her faith.

Again, we see the stark contrast between the world who trust in themselves and the righteous who trust in the Lord.

We must endure trials on the earth.  When it looks like the enemy is winning remember God will make all things right and we will need to wait in faith for the world to come.  In that place good always wins and those in Christ will find comfort and eternal peace.  For now, we must wait in faith.

%d bloggers like this: