Psalm 52

Psalms 52 Devotion
by Pastor Mark Hudson


Psalm 52 has a rather long as well as a specific historical introduction (I Samuel 21 – 22).  The writer leaves us no doubt what occasioned this Psalm.  Please read the violent account of unbridled and ruthless power by Saul.

The outline by Tate in Word Biblical Commentary is as follows:

Accusing Question                               vs. 1

Accusation                                            vs. 2-4

Announcement of judgment              vs. 5-9

          The judgment of God                vs. 5-7

          The response of the righteous vs. 6-7

Thanksgiving                                        vs. 8-9

          David, as the writer of this Psalm, does not get carried away with subtleties.  This is straightforward, direct, and damning.  Why do you boast? David asks.  This may not be outward, loud boasting, but an arrogant attitude and action that is evident to others. 

Read v. 2 where you will see that their tongues devise destruction.  Tongues do not devise anything but it shows how bad this person or people are.  Their tongues are razor sharp. The last phrase in v. 2 makes it sound like deceit is the job since he is “a worker of deceit.”  It is one thing for a friend to call you a name but for God to call you a worker of deceit?  This person loves evil more than good.  Once again notice the tongue is brought up once again calling it `O deceitful tongue.  In v. 4, words are said to devour.  Devour people, devour truth, and devour justice?  We are not told.

          Now look at the piling on of verbs in v. 5 in rapid succession: break you down, snatch you up, tear away, and uproot you.  Once this person was boasting in evil and devising or making plan for evil, now in v. 5, he is tackled, as it were, by God.  Some day or at some time when God judges and pours out his wrath, it will be an avalanche of pent up just anger at those who refuse to obey God.  O, what a horrible moment that will be.

          This reminds me of the song Johnny Cash covered called God’s Gonna Cut you Down

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

          Verses 6-7 demonstrates what is the effect of God’s judgment: the righteous will see and fear.  This fear rules out certain kind of schadenfreude that is wrong while allowing the laughing at the arrogant because believers know anyone who does not love and obey God are in deep trouble.  Those who perpetrated harm on others will not be missed. 

           I used the phrase above “those who refuse to obey God” as if there is a culpability that is intentional stemming from a stubbornness or a refusal to love God.  I say that because of the Psalmist’ description of the ungodly: they boast v.1; they (or their tongue devise destruction) v. 2; they are workers of deceit v.2; they love or choose evil and falsehood over good and truth v. 3; they love (implying they have a choice) bad words v. 4; the man who made not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and was strong in his evil desire (this is not a passive, but rather a determined person) v. 5.

          What a shock for people to face a just, perfect, sinless God of wrath the second they die when they lived their entire lives actively denying and hating Him.  And what of you?  Do you “trust in the loving kindness of God forever and ever?  What can we say of the eternal loss if you have been in the presence of truth, heard it, and reject it?  What of the young people who can only see the wrong of churches and Christians (and there are myriads and myriads of wrongs) and never see, love, or embrace the truth?  When you heard it?  When you saw genuine believers and you prefer evil over good?  This must weigh heavily up us.  We need to speak to all people about their eternal souls and how many of them are known and loved by us. 

          There ought to be sober mindedness and seriousness of our calling.  I do not mean to say we can’t laugh and be glad.  In fact, we are commanded to (Ps 126:3; Phil. 4:4; Thes. 5:16).  We first need to watch over our own souls.  Be diligent to watch your tendencies and guard your heart (Prov 4:23).  This watching over our own lives promotes humility and this humility compels us to draw close to God. 

          We need to be broken hearted, confessing our own rebellion, and realizing we are saved only by grace.  That reliance on a forgiving Christ can help our effectiveness as we seek to draw others to Christ. 

          Oh, God, help me to live in such a way that I never share the same values as worldly people who refuse to trust in You.  I confess that I often times value what they do but draw me to You.  Help me to see how fruitless even dangerous that lifestyle is.  Although far, so very far from where I ought to be, I do trust in your lovingkindness.  And because of Christ, I will be able to praise you forever and ever. Amen.