The theme of Exodus, for this second book of the Psalms, runs throughout this chapter. Although this chapter describes the incident of Doeg, the Edomite, reporting to Saul regarding his visit to the house of Ahimelech, the line of the sons of Satan stems from the unredeemed on the pages of Genesis through to the clearest sign of persecution of His children during the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt.
David is addressing the “mighty” man – sarcastically so. Such men laugh in the face of God’s steadfast love.
This chapter can be divided into three parts:
1. vv.1-4 – the “mighty” man boasts of his evil; his tongue plots destruction; he is a worker of deceit; he loves evil more than good; he lies rather than speak what is right; he loves words that devour. He is a classic child of the first liar (John 8:44).
2. vv.5-7 – this “mighty” man is then contrasted with God. V.5 is powerful – “But God will break you down forever“. From God’s steadfast and enduring love in v.1, we reach God’s capacity to break down the haughty man, to uproot him from the land of the living (c.f. Luke 12:5). The mighty man shall no longer boast, but instead is laughed at by the righteous, as the godless man trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction.
3. vv.8-9 – after looking at the mighty man, at God, then we turn to David. He is like a green olive tree in the house of God, for he trusts in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. David, however, is not relying on himself; in v.9, he refers to God’s name. For God’s name is good. He wishes to be in the presence of His Name, the godly.
The way David ends this chapter is poignant, and the way this Psalm is arranged after Psalm 51 is not coincidental. For in Psalm 51 we see David’s fall and his recognition that he relies on the sacrifice of the Son to be cleansed. Although Psalm 52 is chronologically placed before Psalm 51, the “mighty” man, in fact, refers more to David’s life when he was adulterous and caused the death of Uriah, as well as his disobedience with the census causing the deaths of the Israelites (2 Samuel 24:14). How easy it is for us to be the righteous men described in v.6, laughing at the boasting of the mighty man; for here, David’s life is both a combination of that mighty man, as well as he who is like a green olive tree in the house of God. It is indeed a stern reminder to us that our trust is not in the abundance of our riches (v.7), nor to seek refuge in our destruction and lies (vv.3-4, 7), but in the opening and closing of this chapter – God’s steadfast love.
Is that not why the Israelites moaned in the wilderness, although initially laughing at the haughtiness of the Pharaoh who denied them the opportunity to leave Egypt until the 10 plagues effectively killed off his trust in his own riches and his gods? How quickly our hearts turn away from God. Yet, David reminds us, despite our fickle nature it is His love that endures forever. And how is God’s love characterised? By way of the only Mighty Man in whom we trust:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”