There is nothing worse than working with or living around tyrants, bullies and tattlers who want the worst for you, not the best. It has been said and observed in this life that hurting people hurt people. This seems to be true but doesn’t resolve the problem of their skewed thinking. Bullies and tattlers think that hurting someone else by bringing them down with words of criticism and spreading gossip of lies will resolve their own hurt and make them happier people. But it doesn’t. God knows our heart of hearts. He doesn’t tolerate bullies for long. God also uses bullies to teach us how not to live and how to peacefully cope with them. See the lessons in our next Psalm along with the wisdom of Proverb 19.
When David wrote this psalm, he was angry, and rightly so. (For the reason, see 1 Sam. 21:1-9; 22:6-23.) Doeg was one of many men around Saul who catered to his whims and inflated his ego in order to gain power and wealth. He typifies all who promote themselves at the expense of truth and justice. Doeg was an Edomite, which means he was descended from Esau, the enemy of Jacob (Gen. 27–28; Heb. 12:16-17). The battle between the flesh and the Spirit still goes on.
However, it’s possible that David was also writing about Saul, who certainly fits the description given of the proud, powerful tyrant. There has always been a certain amount of evil in high places, and God’s people must learn to handle it in a godly manner. David paints for us three contrasting scenes. See if you can figure it out…
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 52, The Message
A David Psalm, When Doeg the Edomite Reported to Saul, “David’s at Ahimelech’s House”
1-4 Why do you brag of evil, “Big Man”?
God’s mercy carries the day.
You scheme catastrophe;
your tongue cuts razor-sharp,
artisan in lies.
You love evil more than good,
you call black white.
You love malicious gossip,
5 God will tear you limb from limb,
sweep you up and throw you out,
Pull you up by the roots
from the land of life.
6-7 Good people will watch and
worship. They’ll laugh in relief:
“Big Man bet on the wrong horse,
trusted in big money,
made his living from catastrophe.”
8 And I’m an olive tree,
growing green in God’s house.
I trusted in the generous mercy
of God then and now.
9 I thank you always
that you went into action.
And I’ll stay right here,
your good name my hope,
in company with your faithful friends.
TRUTH: Live in obedience to what God says is true and right. “I trusted in the generous mercy of God then and now.” Stay in the company of God and His people.
Do you see the three scenes David is referring to in his ballad?
- The Sinners are Boasting
- The Saints are Laughing
- The Faithful are Serving
Sinners are Boasting: The phrase “mighty man” is the equivalent of our “big shot” and was spoken derisively. Doeg and Saul were mighty in their own eyes but insignificant in God’s eyes; David was insignificant in their eyes but important to God. David depended on the mercy of the Lord, while Saul and his men depended on themselves and their own resources. Their words devoured people and destroyed them (see 35:25). It isn’t difficult to find people like Doeg and Saul in our twenty-first-century world.
Saints are Laughing: Verse 5 is the central verse of the psalm and marks the turning point in David’s experience as he contemplated the wickedness of the human heart. He was confident that God would one day judge Saul, Doeg, and all who follow their evil philosophy of life. Let God take care of your bullies. He will. Sinners ultimately fall into the pits they dig for others. The phrase, “give them enough rope and they hang themselves” applies to bullies and tattlers!
Faithful are Serving: The contrast is clear: The wicked are like uprooted trees, but the godly are like flourishing olive trees that are fruitful and beautiful. Saul and Doeg would perish, rejected by the Lord, but David and his dynasty would be safe in the house of the Lord!
David trusted God’s loving-kindness, and the Lord did not fail him, and he never failed to give God the glory. The phrase “I’ll stay right here” (v. 9) means to hope and depend on the character of God as expressed in His great name.
Meanwhile, though evil may seem to triumph, we must continue to obey and serve the Lord and not get discouraged. The “last laugh” belongs to the Lord’s people. I read the ending of God’s Word…we win in the end! God is the Victor! Jesus is King forever and ever, Amen!
Proverb 19:1-8, The Message
Better to be poor and honest
than a rich person no one can trust.
2 Ignorant zeal is worthless;
haste makes waste.
3 People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
so why does God always get blamed?
4 Wealth attracts friends as honey draws flies,
but poor people are avoided like a plague.
5 Perjury won’t go unpunished.
Would you let a liar go free?
6 Lots of people flock around a generous person;
everyone’s a friend to the philanthropist.
7 When you’re down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
yes, even your best friends wish you’d get lost.
If they see you coming, they look the other way—
out of sight, out of mind.
8 Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.
WISDOM: “Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.” Avoid being a bully or a tattler, the very kinds of people you run from! Run to God. Grow in His character with His help. Confess your mess. Learn from life.
You teach us skills for living from your word that is completely understood. You don’t mess around with bullies and lie spreaders. You know our hearts. You tell us who we are in you, going over it again and again, when the world bullies and tattlers say otherwise. You lift our thinking up to where you are. You give hope and more hope when all our emotions feel is hopelessness. You give mercy in our messes and grace in low places. You are God and we are not. There is no one like you. So, that‘s why I trust you with all that I am and all that I am not—yet. Continue to grow me as “an olive tree in your greenhouse” as David illustrates so well. All my hope, faith and trust is in you. Thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for protecting me from bullies and tattlers then, now and in the future. We are more than conquerors with You!
In Jesus Name, Amen