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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Psalms 52

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 52:1 « To the chief Musician, Maschil, [A Psalm] of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. » Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God [endureth] continually.

A Psalm of David] Or the same time and argument, likely, with Psalms 58:1-11

Maschil] Or, to teach that the end of the wicked is evil; Redarguit pravos mores, saith the Syriac.

When Doeg the Edomite] When Abiathar escaping the slaughter slave, the blood hound (as Edomite may signify), came and told David what was befallen the priests and their city. This was no small affliction to David; the rather, because by telling the priest a lie, himself had occasioned the massacre. Hereupon, for the comfort of himself and other good people who were startled at this sad accident, and might be deterred thereby from helping David, he penned this psalm.

When Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, &c.] Doeg is a fit name for a courtier; for it signifieth a solicitous or bushy headed fellow, a petty officier, a progging companion, an informer, one that listeneth after rumours, and carrieth tales to curry favour. An Edomite he was by nation; but a proselyte in pretence at least, and one that was at that time detained before the Lord, either by virtue of some vow, or because it was the sabbath day and he would not travel on it, or to perform some other religious service, 1 Samuel 21:7 : this dissembled sanctity was double iniquity; and he became a type of Judas, as some make him.

He came and told Saul] Like a parasite and a tale bearer as he was: when as he should rather have told Ahimelech, that David was out of Saul’s favour, and sought for to the slaughter, as Kimchi here noteth on Psalms 52:3, but he concealed that, that he might accuse Ahimelech; and so slew three at once (saith another Rabbi), viz. himself, Saul, and Ahimelech, calumniatorem, calumniatum et calumniam audientem.

And said, David is come to the house of Ahimelech] Few words, but full of poison; leviter volant non leviter vulnerant. Verba Doegi erant pauci, sod multum nocua (Kimchi). See the story more at large 1 Samuel 22:9. The Rabbis say (from Leviticus 14:44, where the same word is used of the leprous house, that is here, Psalms 52:5, of Doeg’s doom) that he was for this fact smitten with leprosy; and afterwards sent to hell, which they gather from Psalms 120:4 (Midrash Tillin).

Ver. 1. Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, thou mighty man] Or, thou giant; for so he seemed to himself when he had slain tot inermes nec repugnantes, so many naked men, not making any resistance, though they were the priests of Jehovah; and afterwards had smitten the innocent inhabitants of the city of Nob, together with the women, the infants, and the cattle; like another Ajax flagellifer or Hercules furens ; and now vaunted himself in that mischievous prowess.

Egregiam vero laudem, &c.

The Hebrew word for boasting here signifieth also madness, when it is taken in the worse sense, as Jeremiah 46:9, Proverbs 2:14; and to boast of his heart’s desire is the note of an atheist, Psalms 10:3.

The goodness of God endureth continually] Maugre thy spitefulness, God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart, and will be so. The Rabbis make this the sense, If Ahimelech had not relieved me, God would have stirred up some other to have done it (R. Solomon). Some others understand it thus, The goodness of God towards thee, a wicked wretch, endureth all the day. This should lead thee to repentance. But thou, after thy hardness, &c., Romans 2:5.


Verse 2

Psalms 52:2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

Ver. 2. Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs] i.e. Venteth the mischievous devices of thy mind, being an interpreter and an instrument fit for such a purpose, Cogitat, id est eructat. Such another Doeg was Nicholas Saunders, priest, the firebrand of Earl Desmond’s rebellion in Ireland, A. D. 1580, a restless and wretched man, whose foul mouth was at length stopped with famine that had been ever open to stir up rebellions against the state; that had uttered so many blasphemies against God and his holy truth, and invented so many loud and lewd lies against men.

Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully] That, instead of shaving the hair, lanceth the flesh, Exscindit carnem cure crinibus (R. Solomon); or, missing the beard, cutteth the throat, Consulto aberrans iugulum petit, when Dionysius the tyrant would not trust any barber (no, not his own daughters) to shave him; but singed off his own hair with hot coals. The slanderer’s tongue, as sharp as a razor or as the quills of a porcupine, slasheth and gasheth the good names of others, and that many ways, viz. both by denying, disguising, lessening, concealing, misconstruing things of good report; and also by forging, increasing, aggravating, or uncharitable spreading things of evil report; not for any love to the truth nor for respect of justice, nor yet for the bettering of the hearer or the delinquent; but only to prejudice the one, and to incense the other. This was Doeg’s sin, and denominateth him a liar, Psalms 52:3, though he had spoken only the truth.


Verse 3

Psalms 52:3 Thou lovest evil more than good; [and] lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.

Ver. 3. Thou lovest evil more than good] Indeed, evil only, and not at all good, whatever thou pretendest. Thy heart is naught, and thence it is that thy tongue is so mischievous, as stinking breath cometh from corrupt inwards.

And lying, rather than to speak righteousness] For thou hast cunningly insinuated, for thine own base ends and against thine own conscience, that those innocent and faithful priests were of the combination; and so hast built thyself upon their ruins, thou false sycophant, artifex doli. Selah.


Verse 4

Psalms 52:4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O [thou] deceitful tongue.

Ver. 4. Thou lovest all devouring words] Verba devoratoria ; the Greek hath it, καταποντισμου, that devour and swallow up, so as the sea doth things cast into it. So elsewhere, their throat is an open sepulchre, which devoureth all bodies, but rendereth none without a miracle. Some render it, Verba voraginis, the words of a whirlpool, which first turns men around, and then sucks them in. Others, Verba absorptionis, in reference to that use of the tongue, which is to sup up dish meats; Sic lingua attrahit homines ita ut absorbeantur, saith Vatablus. The Vulgate hath it, Verba praecipitationis, words that hurl one down headlong, Ex editis aedium vel rupium, as Hilary hath it, from the top of houses, or high rocks.

O thou deceitful tongue] Because, although it were for most part truth that he spake, yet he did it maliciously, and by dissimulation passed over that which might have made for Ahimelech, viz. that he relieved David in the simplicity of his heart, as thinking him to be high in the king’s favour, and employed by him. Hegesippus saith of Pilate, that he was Vir nequam, et parvi faciens mendacium, a naughty man, and one that made no bones of a lie: such another was Doeg (De excid. Jerus. l. 2. c. 5).


Verse 5

Psalms 52:5 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.

Ver. 5. God shall likewise destroy thee] Here are quot verba tot tonitrua, so many words, so many thunderclaps. As thou hast destroyed the Lord’s priests and their whole city, razing and harassing it; so God will demolish and destroy thee utterly, as a house pulled down to the ground, so that one stone is not left upon another, Leviticus 14:45. So shall God pull down Doeg from that high preferment which he by sycophancy hath got at court, Iudicium ipsum lethale describitur.

He shall take thee away] As a coal of fire is taken with the tongs, Isaiah 30:4, that it do no further mischief. Some render it, He shall burn thee, Exuret te (Vatab.). R. Gaon, He shall terrify thee.

And pluck thee out of thy dwelling place] Or, shall sweep thee out of thy tabernacle. R. Gaon interpreteth it, Beth hamidrash, the Lord’s tabernacle, whereinto a Doeg may set his foot as far as a David, but God will pluck him thence.

And root thee out of the land of the living] Everret et evertet te cum tota familia, He shall utterly ruin thee and thine, leaving thee neither root nor branch, chick nor child.

Selah] i.e. Veritas est, saith Aben Ezra. It is even so; think not that these things are spoken only in terrorem, for a scarebug, for they shall all be surely fulfilled upon thee.


Verse 6

Psalms 52:6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:

Ver. 6. The righteous also shall see and fear] With a reverential fear, from which shall spring sincere service. Aliorum perditio tua sit cautio, Let other men’s perdition be our caution; let us wash our feet in the blood of the wicked. There is an elegance in the original that cannot be translated into English.

And shall laugh at him] With a holy laughter; not that of irrision, but of exultation in God, or his righteous executions.


Verse 7

Psalms 52:7 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.

Ver. 7. Lo, this is the man] Or, rather, now the monster to be pointed at; once so mighty, now so miserable, O quantum haec Niobe, &c., what a strange change is here, &c. As the true Israelite is pointed out with a Behold, for imitation, John 1:47, so is this counterfeit Israelite for detestation.

That made not God his strength] But carried the matter as if he had been some petty god within himself.

But trusted in the abundance, &c.] Never true to those that trusted them.

And strengthened himself in his wickedness] Heb. in his woeful evil, in his putting many poor creatures to their "Woe is me!"


Verse 8

Psalms 52:8 But I [am] like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

Ver. 8. But I am like a green olive tree, &c.] Thus, when Doeg blasted David, David blessed himself. Let him flourish in the court, I shall much more in the house of God. My name shall be precious among the saints when he stinketh above ground; he shall wither when I shall be fresh, flourishing, and fruitful.

I trust in the mercy of God] Not in riches, as Doeg; and this faith is the root of my fruitfulness, cheerfulness, &c. Gul. Parisiensis reporteth of true crystal, that by touching only it reviveth the decayed virtue of other precious stones; sure it is, that faith reviveth the virtue of other precious graces.


Verse 9

Psalms 52:9 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.

Ver. 9. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it] Hast delivered me from Doeg and others, Quod non perierim centies; or, Thou hast done execution upon Doeg; i.e. Thou wilt undoubtedly do it.

And I will wait on thy name] i.e. Depend upon thy promises and providence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 52:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-52.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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