For the director of music. A maskil of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.’
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practise deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!
Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
he will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear;
they will laugh at you, saying,
‘Here now is the man
who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!’
But I am like an olive tree(Ps. 52:1-9 NIV)
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.
This is a wisdom Psalm, and in wisdom Psalms we expect to find the way of wisdom compared to the way of folly.
It is a sad state to be described as mighty in evil. Not only are they evil but they boast about their evil. We see this practice in many of the popular songs that are sung today. Comedians today brag about their immoral lifestyle. The Psalmist asks why they boast all day long. How dreadful to be found a disgrace in the eyes of God. The use of the tongue is a feature of wisdom literature. The evil people use their tongues like a razor sharp weapon to inflict harm on others. They practise deception, that is, they will pick up an element of truth, and twist the intention, and use their slander, which has a semblance of truth in it, and use that to make their deceit plausible and persuasive. They love evil rather than good, and they revel and celebrate their ability to influence and do harm. They have a satisfaction in how they have managed to spread their falsehood rather than telling the truth. They love and delight in their construction of every harmful word, the compilation of every destructive sentence and the harm that they have done to others by their malicious speech. The Psalmist calls them deceitful tongues. The way of folly is this foolish use of the tongue, and the way of wisdom is when every effort is made to control the tongue because of the fear of the Lord.
God will deal with this evil and bring the evil one down to everlasting ruin. The foolish evil person treats their practice of malicious and slandering speech as a battle of wits, trying to score points, and generally as a game or sport to engage in. The Psalmist shows how seriously God views this type of behaviour. The sad thing is that the evil people lived and functioned within the people of God. They were there as part of the community, but God will uproot them from their place and remove them from the land of the living. They will be like an uprooted tree, growing brittle and totally incapable of bearing any fruit.
The wise will view the downfall of the wicked and they will fear the Lord lest the same kind of behaviour is present to any degree within their hearts and lives. The wise will laugh at the folly of the evil. The evil person is now a spectacle for all to see. They didn’t make God their stronghold, but depended on the speed of their wit and the poison of their speech, trusting in wealth. Their wealth grew, their reputation grew by destroying others.
It is entirely different for the wise, those who fear the Lord. They are not like the uprooted tree but rather the fruitful olive tree, that flourishes and bears fruit, because they are feeding upon the wisdom that they learn in the presence of the Lord. The Psalmist trusts in God’s unfailing love (hesed) for ever and ever, because there is nothing else to place confidence in. God has been a faithful covenant Lord and that is never going to change. The Psalmist praises the Lord for His great work of salvation, for providing wisdom and understanding and ruling in righteousness and justice. The Psalmist places his hope in the name of the Lord. The Lord’s name is good because he delivers on everything that He has promised. For us today, every promise that God has made has become ‘yes’ for us in Jesus Christ. The Psalmist resolves to praise the name of the Lord in the presence of God’s people. He wants everyone to know about the goodness of God. This is a blessing that he cannot remain silent about.
Lord help us to follow hard after the way of wisdom, to keep our tongues under control, to do no damage to the reputation of others by sleight of hand or manipulation of the truth. Lord help us to love truth and to flee all evil and to trust in Your covenant love. Lord we will praise Your name because You have been faithful even when we have been faithless. Help us to praise Your name among the people of God, for Christ the Saviour’s sake, in whose name we pray. Amen.