Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, September 28, 2013

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This Psalm relates to a specific event: “When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelech the high priest for help.’” This reflects one of the darkest moments in the history of Israel.  Saul massacred all the priests at Nob for helping David as he fled from Saul.

The message is very applicable to today’s world. Have you ever had to live with a physical or emotionally oppressive person? Some of you reading this commentary know what life is like under a cruel dictator, an uncaring and exploitative employer, an abusive spouse, or in a relationship with an artful manipulator. This is the situation spoken about in Psalm 52. Every line of the first four verses profiles the abuser of power, the “mighty man” who plots the destruction of others, who boasts all day long, who loves evil rather than good, falsehood rather than the truth, and whose words are deceitful and harmful. Such a person, says verse 1, is a disgrace to God.  

The first two words of verse 5 introduce a factor that the evil man does not take into consideration: “Surely God . . . ” it says in the most drastic terms, what God will do to him. Whether in this life or in the hereafter, his ruin will be final and complete.

On the other side stands David, also introduced with two words at the start of verse 8: “But I . . . ” In contrast to the evil “mighty man” who will be destroyed, David’s words are all about eternal life and a forever future, because he trusts in God’s unfailing love and puts his hope in God’s good name.

Which “two words” would you rather have on your gravestone? It could be that of verse 7: “Here is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others.” Or it could be that of verse 8: “I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”

 

Garth Bainbridge
Ministerial Director
Greater Sydney Conference
Australia