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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 52

 

 

Verse 1

Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.

Title. - When Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul ... David is some to ... Ahimelech. David had just heard that Saul, on Doeg's information, caused 85 priests to be killed. It was virtually a 'boast' (Psalms 52:1) and threat of Saul that similar would be the fate of all who should aid David. To this David replies, Psalms 52:1, "Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man?" Saul (not Doeg) represents the ideal wicked one, against whom this psalm is directed. Doeg told the fact, upon Saul's solemn charge to his servants. It was Saul who put the "lying" (Psalms 52:3-4) construction of high treason on it against David and the innocent priests (1 Samuel 22:9-10; 1 Samuel 22:17; 1 Samuel 22:22). The Hebrew, gibowr (Hebrew #1368), 'mighty man,' or 'hero,' is frequently applied by David to Saul (2 Samuel 1:19); a term inapplicable to the herdsman Doeg. Saul it was who "trusted in the abundance of his riches" (Psalms 52:7) as means against David (1 Samuel 22:7-9). The epithet, "the Edomite" reminds us of Edom, the representative of the world's enmity to God's people.

Maschil - Instruction. The case of David and Saul illustrates the eternal principle that the triumph of might with wrong is short: cf. Psalms 52:6-7; Psalms 52:9. Saul and his sons were 'rooted out of the land of the living,' a type of the doom of the last Antichrist.

Psalms 52:1-9.-The theme: the mighty man's wickedness (Psalms 52:1-2); his boasting is vain, seeing that God, in goodness to His people, will destroy the destroyer (Psalms 52:4-5), to the edification of the righteous (Psalms 52:6-7); but David, trusting in the Lord, and therefore flourishing, shall praise Him forever (Psalms 52:8-9).

Boastest ... thyself in mischief - the bane.

The goodness ( checed (H2617); benignity) of God - the antidote. The hero-like energy of the "mighty The goodness ( checed (H2617); benignity) of God - the antidote. The hero-like energy of the "mighty man" (cf. Psalms 52:7, "strengthened himself in his wickedness") cannot stand for a moment before the mighty God ( 'Eel (Hebrew #410), Psalms 52:5).

Continually - literally, the whole day.


Verse 2

Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp rasor, working deceitfully.

Thy tongue - the organ of thy inner man.

Like a sharp razor. Saul's charge of high treason against David was the instrument used to cut off Abimelech and the priests. So the charge of treason to Caesar was the pretext for cutting off Messiah (Luke 23:2; John 19:12).


Verse 3

Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.

Thou lovest evil more than good ... lying ... than ... righteousness - or justice: in direst defiance of Deuteronomy 16:20, margin.

Selah. The pause marks the close of the strophe.

As the first strophe (Psalms 52:1-3) showed the foe's character, so this second his punishment in kind.


Verse 4

Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.

Thou lovest all devouring words, O ... deceitful tongue - resumed from Psalms 52:2-3, to mark the inner and invariable connection between sin and its penalty.


Verse 5

God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.

God shall likewise. Punishment is the necessary consequence of guilt (Ezekiel 16:43).

Destroy ( naatats (H5422); as buildings) ... take thee away (as burning coals; chaatah (H2846)) ... pluck out of (dispossess of; naacach (H5255)) thy dwelling ... root out (as trees: shaarash (Hebrew #8327)). Such was Saul's doom, (1 Samuel 31:1-13.) The Septuagint and Vulgate translate, for "out of thy dwelling place," 'out of the tabernacle' (skeenoomatos). The Chaldaic Targum, 'He will cause thee to depart from inhabiting the tabernacle' or place of the Shechinah. The Hebrew, 'ohel (Hebrew #168), usually means the tabernacle of the ark (Aben Ezra). Thus, the last Antichrist in the temple of God is prefigured by Saul; even as the priests of the sanctuary were profanely killed by Saul (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 11:44-45).

Joy of the righteous at God's manifestation in judgment upon the wicked.


Verse 6

The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:

The righteous also shall see - (Malachi 1:4-5; Isaiah 66:24 : cf. Exodus 14:30-31.)

And fear - not slavish dread, but reverential childlike fear in seeing God's terrible judgments on sinners. There is a play on like sounds in Hebrew, ireu, yirau, "see ... fear"

Shall laugh at him - not in a spirit of personal revenge; because David showed the opposite spirit over Saul when fallen (2 Samuel 1:19-27 : cf. Job 31:29; Proverbs 24:17). But joy over God's enemy prostrated; joy at the vindication of God's righteousness, which seemed in abeyance while the mighty transgressor flourished. Pharaoh's proud resistance of Yahweh was just subject of holy laughter to the godly who saw him and his hosts corpses the Red Sea.


Verse 7

Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. Made not God his strength; but ... riches, and ... wickedness - (1 Timothy 6:17; Luke 12:21; Psalms 62:10.) Compare, as to Saul, notes on title above.

The 'continual endurance of God's goodness' (Psalms 52:1) to the godly is set forth, in contrast to the doom of the ungodly just described. Not only is the proud sinner destroyed, but the oppressed saint saved.


Verse 8

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

But I am like a green olive tree - in contrast to the once mighty sinner. 'plucked out of his dwelling, and rooted out of the land the living' (Psalms 52:5).

In the house of God - where in spirit the righteous dwell in continual communion with Him (Psalms 15:1; Psalms 23:6; Psalms 27:4-5; Psalms 36:8). Contrast the temporary occupation of the temple by Antichrist (note, Psalms 52:5), and now by hypocrites and slave-like formalists (John 8:34-35).

Like a green olive tree. So the cedar and palm (Psalms 92:12), implying uprightness, as the green olive implies abundance of grace, peace, and prosperity. The oil-olive typifies the unction of the Holy Spirit. Compare Zechariah 4:11-12; Exodus 30:23-33.

I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever - and therefore shall never be confounded. 'Spes confisa Deo, nunquam confusa recedit.'


Verse 9

I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done (it). Faith anticipates in hope the deliverance as already accomplished, and praises God beforehand for it (2 Chronicles 20:19-22).

And I will wait on thy name - in all my troubles hereafter, making thee in thy manifested power, goodness, and wisdom, my hope. Compare on God's name, Psalms 20:1.

For (it is) good before thy saints. It is "good" to the edification of the "saints" to see my hopeful trust in thy name amidst troubles. It encourages them to 'exercise the same trust in trial' (DeBurgh). Rather, as the parallel Psalms 54:6 proves, connect, 'I will wait on thy name (for it-thy name-is good) before thy saints.' I will let my waiting on thy gracious name be seen before thy saints for their edification.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 52:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-52.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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