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Psalm 52

Judgment on the Deceitful

To the leader. A Maskil of David, when Doeg the Edomite came to Saul and said to him, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”


Why do you boast, O mighty one,

of mischief done against the godly?

All day long 2you are plotting destruction.

Your tongue is like a sharp razor,

you worker of treachery.


You love evil more than good,

and lying more than speaking the truth. Selah


You love all words that devour,

O deceitful tongue.



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


The righteous will see, and fear,

and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,


“See the one who would not take

refuge in God,

but trusted in abundant riches,

and sought refuge in wealth!”



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 of what you have done.

In the presence of the faithful

I will proclaim your name, for it is good.

1. Why boastest thou of thy wickedness? The success which crowned the treachery of Doeg must have tended considerably to stagger David’s faith; and he seems to have adopted the strain of holy defiance with which the psalm commences, in order to arm himself more effectually against this temptation. He begins by charging Doeg with an aggravation of his guilt, in boasting of the power which he had acquired by an act of consummate villany. This power may have been sufficiently considerable to attract the notice which is here taken of it; for although he is only said to have been “master of the king’s herdsmen,” the designation does not imply that he was personally occupied in herding cattle, but may have been an honorary title; as in modern courts we speak of “The Master of the Horse.” he is reminded that there was no reason why he should applaud himself in his greatness, so long as he abused it to purposes of wickedness; nor why he should be vain of any new honor which the king might have conferred upon him in consideration of his late crime, as integrity is the only sure pathway to power and preferment. Any triumph which may be obtained by violence, treachery, or other unjustifiable means, is short-lived. In the second part of the verse, he points at the true cause of the blindness and stupidity that lead men to glory in their wickedness, which is, that they despise the poor and the humble; imagine that God will not condescend to interest himself in their behalf; and therefore embrace the occasion of oppressing them with impunity. They make no account of that providence which God exerts over his own children. David, in the exercise of a holy confidence, challenges such proud boasters with dishonoring the goodness of God; and as the Divine goodness does not always pursue the same even course — occasionally appears to suffer an interruption, and sometimes seems as if it were cut off altogether, David repels any temptation which this might suggest, by asserting that, whatever appearances may say to the contrary, it is daily exercised. This is evidently the meaning which he intends to convey, that any partial obstructions which may take place in the display of it can never prevent its constant renewal. He was confident that he would experience, in the future, what he had found in the past; for God cannot become weary in helping his people, or alleviating their miseries; and although he may suffer them again and again to fall into affliction, he is always equally ready to extend them the deliverance which they need.

2. Thy tongue reckons up mischiefs David is not to be considered as here venting a flood of reproaches against his adversary, as many who have been unjustly injured are in the habit of doing, merely to gratify a feeling of revenge. He brings these charges against him in the sight of God, with a view to encourage himself in the hopefulness of his own cause: for it is plain that the farther our enemies proceed in the practice of iniquity, they proportionally provoke the anger of the Lord, and are nearer to that destruction which must issue in our deliverance. His object, therefore, is not to blacken the character of Doeg in the estimation of the world, but rather to set before his own eyes the divine punishment which the flagrant offenses he specifies were certain to draw down upon his head. Amongst these he singles out, as more especially worthy of reprobation, the hidden treachery with which he had been chargeable in accomplishing the destruction of the priesthood. Adverting to his secret and malicious information, he likens his tongue to a sharp razor, as elsewhere, Psalm 120:4, the tongues of the wicked are compared to “sharp arrows.” It is added, working deceitfully, which words are considered by some as referring to the razor which cuts subtilely, and not with an open wound like a sword; but perhaps they may be construed with more propriety as applying to the tongue, 276276     According to the first sense, the meaning is, that as a razor cuts so easily, that the wound is at first hardly perceptible, in the same manner, the deceitful tongue works its purposes of mischief before the objects which it means to ruin are conscious of their danger. It is like a sharp razor, that cuts the throat before a man is aware of it. “If, however, we take the words, thou workest deceitfully, as being descriptive not of the razor but of the tongue, the sense will be, that such a tongue is capable of inflicting deep and dreadful wounds like a sharp razor.” — Walford. although there can be no doubt of the reason of the comparison.

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