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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 52

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2946. B.C. 1058.

In this Psalm, (for the occasion of which the reader is referred to 1 Samuel 22:22 ,) we have,

(1,) The character of Doeg, who is represented as glorying in his villany, Psalms 52:1 . Of a smooth, but extremely deceitful and mischievous tongue, Psalms 52:2 . As delighting in malicious charges, and supporting them by lies, Psalms 52:3 . And taking pleasure in acts of wickedness and cruelty, Psalms 52:4 .

(2,) The utter ruin of this man, and of his fortune and family, foretold, and the triumph of good men in that event, Psalms 52:5 .

(3,) The psalmist’s assurance of protection and future prosperity from God, whom he determines to praise, patiently waiting for his salvation, Psalms 52:8 , Psalms 52:9 .

Verse 1

Psalms 52:1. Why boastest thou thyself &c. As if thou hadst done a great exploit, which none else durst undertake; and thereby established the crown upon Saul’s head, and thyself in his favour; and frustrated all David’s designs, by striking a terror into all his friends, by this sad example; O mighty man? He speaks ironically. O valiant captain! O glorious action! To kill a few weak and unarmed persons in the king’s presence, and under the protection of his guards. Surely thy name will be famous to all ages for such heroical courage! It seems probable that Doeg, after he had massacred the priests, boasted of his loyalty to Saul, and of having prevented the treasonable schemes which, he artfully insinuated, had been concerted by David and the priests; and that he had been liberally rewarded by Saul on account of it; and that this is the reason why the Psalm begins in thus expressing a kind of contempt of Doeg. See Dodd. The goodness of God endureth continually Know, vain man, that I am out of the reach of thy malice. That goodness of God, which thou reproachest me for trusting in, is my sure protection, and will follow me day by day; and, surely, that same goodness, together with his forbearance and long-suffering, is wonderfully displayed in sparing thee, amidst thy complicated crimes, who art continually doing evil; while he is continually doing good.

Verse 2

Psalms 52:2. Thy tongue deviseth mischief That is, expresses what thy wicked mind had devised. Thus skilfulness is ascribed to those hands which are governed by a skilful man, Psalms 78:72. Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully Wherewith a person, pretending only to shave off the hair, doth suddenly and unexpectedly cut a man’s throat. So Doeg, pretending only to vindicate himself from the imputation of disloyalty, 1 Samuel 22:8, really intended to expose the priests, who were friends to David, to the king’s fury and cruelty.

Verses 4-5

Psalms 52:4-5. Thou lovest all devouring words Hebrew, דברי בלע , dibree balang, all the words of devouring, or destruction; that is, such calumnies as are the most pernicious in their nature, and as may most effectually involve others in utter destruction: such as might swallow up and destroy a whole family at once. God shall likewise destroy thee for ever That is, totally and unavoidably, as thou didst destroy the priests. He shall pluck thee Violently, irresistibly, and suddenly remove thee, as the word יסחךְ , jissachacha, signifies; out of thy dwelling-place From thy house and lands, and all the wages of thy unrighteousness. Or, out of his, that is, the Lord’s tabernacle, from which thou didst cut off the Lord’s priests. Therefore God shall excommunicate thee from his presence, and from the society of the faithful. And though thou seemest to have taken very deep root, and to be more firmly settled in this barbarous cruelty; yet God shall root thee out of the land of the living, out of this world; shall pluck thee up by the very roots, and destroy thee, both root and branch. Which must have been very terrible to him who had his whole portion in this life.

Verses 6-7

Psalms 52:6-7. The righteous also shall see Namely, thy remarkable downfall, and, consequently, shall survive thee, in spite of all thy malice and violence against them; and fear Shall reverence God’s just judgment upon thee, and be afraid of provoking him. And shall laugh at him Not taking pleasure in his ruin, considered in itself, but only in the glory of God’s justice vindicated thereby, (Revelation 18:20,) and deriding his vain and carnal confidence in his wicked courses. “The peculiar judgments of God, executed upon exemplary offenders, who have been guilty of treachery, rapine, and murder, good men will carefully observe; and observe, though with awe, yet thankfulness; not that they rejoice to see the punishments and miseries of mankind, separately considered; no person of humanity taking pleasure in the execution of criminals as such; but as the administration of justice is always a right, and, so far, a pleasant thing; as instances of God’s vengeance are sometimes necessary to keep men in tolerable order; and as the cutting off such kind of incorrigible offenders prevents them from doing further mischiefs, and is so far a public and common blessing to mankind. It was therefore impossible that any good man, who had seen the crimes of this treacherous and bloody Edomite retaliated on him by Divine Providence, should do otherwise than approve so righteous a retribution, and when he observed it, forbear to say, as in Psalms 52:7, Lo, this is the man, &c.” The great and famous man, that made not God his strength That trusted in and feared Saul more than God, and was willing to purchase Saul’s favour with God’s displeasure; but trusted in the abundance of his riches Thought himself secure in his great and growing wealth without God’s protection or blessing. “Observe the fate of this haughty slanderer and murderer! Where now are all his boasted riches and prosperity?” He and they are separated for ever! See Dodd and Chandler.

Verse 8

Psalms 52:8. I am like a green olive-tree When Doeg and his brethren shall wither and perish, I, who have made God my refuge; I, whom he despised and persecuted, and thought to be in a desperate condition, shall be established and flourish; in the house of God In God’s church, and among his people; or, in God’s tabernacle, from which Doeg shall be plucked away; but to which, I doubt not, I shall be restored. “One principal part of the happiness David promised himself was, that he should have a constant admission to the house of God, and the solemnities of his worship there; notwithstanding he was now driven from it by the malice of his enemies.” As “the olive-tree is an evergreen, and therefore of long duration,” and as it also “propagates itself by fresh shoots, being thus far, as it were, immortal; hence the psalmist compares himself to it, to denote the stability and perpetuity of his prosperity, and that of his family; adding, I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever His promises shall never fail; nor shall those who hate me rejoice over me in my destruction.”

Verse 9

Psalms 52:9. I will praise thee because thou hast done it Destroyed mine and thine implacable enemies, and established me in the throne, and in thy house, of which I am no less assured than if it were already done. And I will wait on thy name I will continue in thy way, placing my whole trust and confidence in thy power, goodness, and faithfulness, all which are called God’s name; and I will not turn aside to any crooked path for my deliverance, as others do. For it is good before thy saints That is, in the eyes of thy saints. They whose judgments only are to be valued approve of this practice of trusting in God, and keeping his way, as the wisest and safest course, and have ever found it so to be by their own experience.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 52". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-52.html. 1857.
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