Evil Men & A Steadfast God
This Psalm was written in response to events recorded in 1 Samuel 20-22.
David had been anointed as king, but had not assumed the throne. Saul still reigned. He had come to hate David and wanted to kill him.
Jonathan, Saul’s son, warned David, who fled to the town of Nob. The priests had moved there with the Tabernacle after Shiloh was destroyed. David came to the priest, Ahimelech, and deceived him into thinking he was on an errand for Saul. He took the Bread of the Presence for food and the sword of Goliath.
The Bread of the Presence was 12 loaves of bread in two rows on the golden table Tabernacle holy place. The high priest put them there every Sabbath, representing the 12 tribes of Israel and their dependence on God for sustenance. The priests ate the loaves that were removed. These were the loaves David would have taken. (Leviticus 24)
Unfortunately, “Doeg the Edomite” saw this and reported it to Saul. Saul ordered his servants to kill all of the priests in Nob, but they would not do it. So Doeg did it, killing 85 people, including men, women and children. He also killed all the animals. Only Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, escaped.
Abiathar went and told David. David acknowledged that he knew Doeg was there and would tell Saul. He felt that the deaths were his fault.
Psalm 52 was written by David as he reflected on “Doeg’s” treachery.
Evidently, Doeg returned to Saul and boasted of all he had done for Saul in killing the inhabitants of Nob. He is the “mighty man” or “hero” mentioned in the Psalm. David uses the title sarcastically. David called him out for his boasting of this deed. He said he boasted of evil and loved evil. He also lied and spoke deceitfully.
Despite the evil done by Doeg, David proclaimed that the steadfast love of God endures all the day. In other words, evil men will not prevail against God and God’s people because of God’s steadfast love for his people.
God Will Destroy Evil People
David asserted that God would destroy Doeg. He said it three ways: (1) God will break him down forever, removing him from power and might; (2) God would snatch him from his tent; he will find him in the place he thinks is safe and remove him from it; (3) God will uproot Doeg from the land of the living; God will remove him from life.
This use of multiple lines that make the same point is called parallelism. It is common in Hebrew poetry and speech. It usually does not mean God will do three different things. Rather it says the same thing two or three different ways to emphasize the point.
Here the point is that, because Doeg is evil and even boasts of it, God will destroy him because he does not honor God.
In contrast, the righteous will see Doeg’s destruction and laugh because he did not make God his refuge, but trusted in his riches and his power. (7-8)
This year, in America, we have seen a man who abused female children and recruited others to join him, destroyed despite his wealth and his connections with influential people. That is an example.
We know that God will destroy evil. Often he does it during the lifetime of the evil person. The Book of Acts also gives us a picture of this. When the people of Tyre and Sidon came to Herod and heard him speak, they said it was the voice of a god and not a man. an angel of the lord immediately struck him down because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms. (Acts 12:22-23)
Sometimes God does not act during the lifetime of an evil person. He will, however, certainly do it at the final judgment. Revelation gives us vivid pictures of this. For example, speaking of Babylon the great, an angel said:
“Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double former deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning.”
Trusting in God
In contrast to Doeg and his trust in his wealth and might, David trusted in the steadfast love of God. Doeg would be uprooted from the land and is tent destroyed, but David would be planted in the house of God like a green olive tree.
The olive tree was important in Israel. It provided olives for food and oil. Olive oil was used for different things, including a salve for wounds.
It was a symbol for good things, prosperity, fruitfulness, and life. So, David was saying, I am like this productive tree, under the protection of God, who will love me forever and take care of me. I am blessed by God.
Because God loves and cares for David, David will thank God and wait for God to do what he promised. (8-9) We know that God desires us to live in thankfulness.
We do not know what happened to Doeg after this. We do know what happened to Saul, who commanded Doeg to do evil. Saul was defeated in a battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. He was wounded by archers and then committed suicide. The Philistines found his body and beheaded him. They stripped him of his armor and put the armor in one of their pagan temples. Finally, they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.
In contrast, David became king. He expanded the territory of Israel to its greatest extent. He became very wealthy. And God made a covenant with him to bring the Messiah through his line of descendants.
What do we do with evil?
(1)Recognize that the wicked plot against the godly. They often use deception. That is part of the point of this psalm.
(2)Hate evil; be disgusted by it. Romans 12:9 “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
(3) Expose it. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11.
(4) Pray For Protection. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. Matthew 6:13.
(5) Let God handle it. “Repay no one evil for evil”. (Romans 12:17)