Prayer for Help against Calumniators
1 For the director.[b] A maskil of David. 2 When Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, “David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.”
3 Why do you boast of your evil deeds,
you champion of malice?[c]
All day long 4 you plot harm;
your tongue is like a sharpened razor,
you master of deceit.
5 [d]You love evil rather than good,
and lies rather than truthful speech. Selah
6 You wallow in destructive talk,
you tongue of deceit.
7 [e]This is the reason why God will crush you
and destroy you once and for all.
He will snatch you from your tent[f]
and uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
8 The righteous will see and be afraid;
they will mock him:
9 “This is the man
who refused to accept God as his refuge.
Rather, he placed his trust in his abundant riches
and gathered strength by his crimes.”
10 [g]But I am like a green olive tree[h]
in the house of God.
I place my trust forever and ever
in the kindness of God.
11 I will praise you forever
for what you have done,[i]
and in the presence of the saints
I will proclaim the goodness of your name.
- Psalm 52:1 The psalmist indicates that a tragic end is reserved for arrogant cynicism and the perfidious tongue, while the righteous subsist, for they take refuge in God; they will have the happiness of living in the temple, i.e., in the presence of the Lord. This psalm constitutes one of the most violent indictments brought against wicked tongues; it resembles the wisdom psalms (see Pss 57:5; 59:8) and writings (Job 20).
In praying this psalm, we can dwell on the fact that Jesus teaches us to fear more than anything else those schemers who seek the death of our souls: the devil and the corruptive world, the givers of scandal (see 1 Jn 2:16; 1 Pet 5:8). The workers of evil know how to disguise themselves (see 2 Cor 11:15); by the power of Satan, they perform even lying works and use all the wicked deceptions of evil (see 2 Thes 2:9-12).
- Psalm 52:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation. Maskil: see note on Ps 32:1a. For the event referred to, see 1 Sam 22:9f.
- Psalm 52:3 You champion of malice: the translation follows the Greek. The Hebrew has: “the kindness of God lasts all day long.” The title is one of scorn; he is a champion only in his own mind, and God can easily put him in his place (see Isa 22:17).
- Psalm 52:5 The values of the wicked are distorted. He loves to think, speak, and do evil whenever he can profit from it (see v. 5; Mic 3:2). His entire being reflects the evil that is associated with the tongue (see Ps 120:2; Jas 3:1-12).
- Psalm 52:7 The wicked will be brought down by God while the righteous will subsist and mock them (see Ps 28:5; Job 18:14; Prov 2:22; Isa 22:17). The end of the wicked will be that of the foolish rich of Ps 49.
- Psalm 52:7 Tent: the earthly dwelling (see Job 18:14).
- Psalm 52:10 The godly or righteous stands in contrast to the “champion of malice” (v. 3). The latter relies on himself, does evil, and amasses ill-gotten riches and power; the Lord uproots him like a tree, turns him into a wanderer and destroys him like a building (v. 7). The godly relies on the Lord and is like a tree flourishing in the Lord’s house. The “champion” boasts of his abilities; the godly praises the Lord for his wondrous works.
- Psalm 52:10 Like a green olive tree: symbol of a long and fruitful life inasmuch as it lives hundreds of years (see Pss 92:13-15; 128:3). Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.
- Psalm 52:11 I will praise you forever for what you have done: a vow to praise the Lord for his punishing the wicked and saving the righteous (see Pss 13:6; 22:32; 31:23; 57:4) in keeping with the Israelite belief that praise must follow deliverance. The praise involved thank offerings and celebrating God’s saving deed in the presence of others in the temple (see Ps 50:14f, 23). See also note on Ps 9:2. Saints: people of God who are and should be devoted to him (see note on Ps 4:4). Name: see note on Ps 5:12.