Monday, April 2, 2012

The Words of the Wicked

[To the chief Musician, Maskil, A Psalm of David, when Do'eg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahim'elech]

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

2 The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

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

4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

—Psalm 52 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. In the song, David contrasts the wicked and the righteous, describes the wicked, their doom, and the delight of the righteous. David wrote the psalm when Do’eg the Edomite, a servant of king Saul, informed Saul that David had been sheltered and feed by the priest Ahim’elech. Following one of Saul’s attempts to kill David, David fled to Nob where the priest Ahim’elech gave David shelter and food before David moved on. Saul’s servant Do’eg witnessed these events and later informed Saul of what happened. Saul then took out is murderous vengeance on Ahim’elech, his household and all the other priests of Nob. One son of Ahim’elech was able to escape and tell David what Saul had done. The full story may be read in 1 Samuel 21 and 22.

The psalm superscription states that this is a “maskil”—Hebrew, meaning “a hedge.” In the context of the psalms, it is thought to mean either a contemplative or teaching psalm, or a psalm written in a clever way. Thirteen psalms are described as "maskils." they include 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verses 3 and 5 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 4, David describes the wicked. Their speech can cut. They prefer lies over the truth. And they prefer to destroy rather than to build up.

In verse 5, David explains the doom of the wicked in four striking images: The wicked will be broken down, destroyed, plucked from their home, and uprooted from life.

In verses 6 through 9, David describes the righteous. In verses 6 and 7, David explains that the righteous have reverential “fear” of God and that the righteous scoffingly “laugh” at the actions and reasoning of the wicked. In verses 8 through 9, David explains that as one of the righteous, he remains firmly planted and full of life. David does depend on men, but trusts and waits in hope of God.

Father, at times it is tempting to share what I know for the hope of personal gain, regardless of those I might hurt or dishonor, including You. Help me to always speak honorably. Help me to stay true to those around me and true to You.


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