Psalm 52:1
To the chief Musician, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.
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(1) Mighty man.—Better, hero, used sarcastically. LXX. and Vulg., “a mighty one at mischief.” (Comp. Isaiah 5:22 : “a hero at drinking.”) The order of the Hebrew is, however, against this, and in favour of the English, why dost thou exult in wickedness, O hero, i.e., perhaps, not only his own, but in the wickedness the people are led into by his means. This seems necessitated by the next clause. In spite of man’s folly and sin, God’s covenant favour endures all the day long.

Psalm 52:1. Why boastest thou thyself &c. — As if thou hadst done a great exploit, which none else durst undertake; and thereby established the crown upon Saul’s head, and thyself in his favour; and frustrated all David’s designs, by striking a terror into all his friends, by this sad example; O mighty man? — He speaks ironically. O valiant captain! O glorious action! To kill a few weak and unarmed persons in the king’s presence, and under the protection of his guards. Surely thy name will be famous to all ages for such heroical courage! It seems probable that Doeg, after he had massacred the priests, boasted of his loyalty to Saul, and of having prevented the treasonable schemes which, he artfully insinuated, had been concerted by David and the priests; and that he had been liberally rewarded by Saul on account of it; and that this is the reason why the Psalm begins in thus expressing a kind of contempt of Doeg. See Dodd. The goodness of God endureth continually — Know, vain man, that I am out of the reach of thy malice. That goodness of God, which thou reproachest me for trusting in, is my sure protection, and will follow me day by day; and, surely, that same goodness, together with his forbearance and long-suffering, is wonderfully displayed in sparing thee, amidst thy complicated crimes, who art continually doing evil; while he is continually doing good.

52:1-5 Those that glory in sin, glory in their shame. The patience and forbearance of God are abused by sinners, to the hardening of their hearts in their wicked ways. But the enemies in vain boast in their mischief, while we have God's mercy to trust in. It will not save us from the guilt of lying, to be able to say, there was some truth in what we said, if we make it appear otherwise than it was. The more there is of craft and contrivance in any wickedness, the more there is of Satan in it. When good men die, they are transplanted from the land of the living on earth, to heaven, the garden of the Lord, where they shall take root for ever; but when wicked men die, they are rooted out, to perish for ever. The believer sees that God will destroy those who make not him their strength.Why boastest thou thyself in Mischief? - Why dost thou "exult" in that which is wrong? Why dost thou find pleasure in evil rather than in good? Why dost thou seek to triumph in the injury done to others? The reference is to one who prided himself on schemes and projects which tended to injure others; or who congratulated himself on the success which attended his efforts to wrong other people.

O mighty man - DeWette and Luther render this, "tyrant." The original word would be properly applied to one of rank or distinction; a man of "power" - power derived either from office, from talent, or from wealth. It is a word which is often applied to a hero or warrior: Isaiah 3:2; Ezekiel 39:20; 2 Samuel 17:10; Psalm 33:16; Psalm 120:4; Psalm 127:4; Daniel 11:3; Genesis 6:4; Jeremiah 51:30. So far as the "word" is concerned, it might be applied either to Saul or to any other warrior or man of rank; and Professor Alexander supposes that it refers to Saul himself. The connection, however, seems to require us to understand it of Doeg, and not of Saul, This appears to be clear

(a) from the general character here given to the person referred to, a character not particularly applicable to Saul, but applicable to an informer like Doeg Psalm 52:2-4; and

(b) from the fact that he derived his power, not from his rank and office, as Saul did, but mainly from his wealth Psalm 52:7. This would seem to imply that some other was referred to than Saul.

The goodness of God endureth continually - literally, "all the day." That is, the wicked man could not hope to prevent the exercise of the divine goodness toward him whom he persecuted, and whom he sought to injure. David means to say that the goodness of God was so great and so constant, that he would protect his true friends from such machinations; or that it, was so unceasing and watchful, that the informer and accuser could not hope to find an interval of time when God would intermit his care, and when, therefore, he might hope for success. Against the goodness of God, the devices of a wicked man to injure the righteous could not ultimately prevail.


Ps 52:1-9. Compare 1Sa 21:1-10; 22:1-10, for the history of the title. Ps 52:1 gives the theme; the boast of the wicked over the righteous is vain, for God constantly cares for His people. This is expanded by describing the malice and deceit, and then the ruin, of the wicked, and the happy state of the pious.

1. mighty man—literally, "hero." Doeg may be thus addressed, ironically, in respect of his might in slander.

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

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

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

Psalm 52:1

"Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man?" Doeg had small matter for boasting in having procured the slaughter of a band of defenceless priests. A mighty man indeed to kill men who never touched a sword! He ought to have been ashamed of his cowardice. He had no room for exultation! Honourable titles are but irony where the wearer is mean and cruel. If David alluded to Saul, he meant by these words pityingly to say, "How can one by nature fitted for nobler deeds, descend to so low a level as to find a theme for boasting in a slaughter so heartless and mischievous?" "The goodness of God endureth continually." A beautiful contrast. The tyrant's fury cannot dry up the perennial stream of divine mercy. If priests be slain their Master lives. If Doeg for awhile triumphs the Lord will outlive him, and right the wrongs which he has done. This ought to modify the proud exultations of the wicked, for after all, while the Lord liveth, iniquity has little cause to exalt itself.

Psalm 52:2

"Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs." Thou speakest with an ulterior design. The information given was for Saul's assistance apparently, but in very deed in his heart the Edomite hated the priests of the God of Jacob. It is a mark of deep depravity, when the evil spoken is craftily intended to promote a yet greater evil. "Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully." David represents the false tongue as being effectual for mischief, like a razor which, unawares to the person operated on, is making him bald; so softly and deftly do Oriental barbers perform their work. Or he may mean that as with a razor a man's throat may be cut very speedily, under the pretence of shaving him, even thus keenly, basely, but effectually Doeg destroyed the band of the priests. Whetted by malice, and guided by craft, he did his cruel work with accursed thoroughness.

Psalm 52:3

"Thou lovest evil more than good." He loved not good at all. If both had been equally profitable and pleasant, he would have preferred evil. "And lying rather than to speak righteousness." He was more at home at lying than at truth. He spake not the truth except by accident, but he delighted heartily in falsehood. "Selah." Let us pause and look at the proud, blustering liar. Doeg is gone, but other dogs bark at the Lord's people. Saul's cattle-master is buried, but the devil still has his drovers, who fain would hurry the saints like sheep to the slaughter. Doeg the Edomite; so called, either,

1. Because he was born or bred in Edom. Or,

2. From his treacherous and bloody disposition; for which the Edomites are infamous in Scripture; as the Israelites are called Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaiah 1:10.

David reproveth the insolency of Doeg, Psalm 52:1-4; prophesieth his destruction, Psalm 52:5. The righteous rejoice at it, Psalm 52:6. He showeth the Strength and hope of this wicked man, Psalm 52:7; but placeth his own confidence and trust in God, and praiseth him, Psalm 52:8,9.

Why boastest thou thyself, as if thou hadst done a great exploit, which none else durst undertake; and thereby established the crown upon Saul’s head, and thyself in his favour; and broken all David’s designs, by striking a terror into all his favourers by this sad example?

O mighty man! he speak ironically. O valiant captain! O glorious action! to kill a few weak and unarmed persons in the king’s presence, and under the protection of his guards! Surely thy name will be famous to all ages for such heroical courage.

The goodness of God endureth continually; God’s love and favour to his people, and in particular to me, is not fading and inconstant, but everlasting and unchangeable, and therefore not to be hindered or defeated by any wicked designs or practices. And therefore though he hath permitted thee, and may do others, to rage for a season, yet he will defend, and in due time deliver, his people.

Why boastest thou thyself in mischief?.... Or "in evil" (w); in that which is sinful; to glory in riches, wisdom, and strength, which are not in themselves evil, is wrong; and to rejoice in such boastings, all such rejoicing is evil; to be a doer of mischief, or sin, is bad; to make a sport of it, worse; but to glory in it, and boast of it when done, is worse still: to be boasters of evil things, is the character of antichrist and his followers, 2 Timothy 3:2; who not only boast of their merit, their good works, and works of supererogation, and of their riches, and honour, and grandeur, saying, "I sit as a queen", Revelation 18:7; but of their wickedness in shedding the blood of the saints, thinking thereby they do God good service, and merit heaven, and eternal happiness; as Doeg boasted of his slaughter of the priests, and of his gaining the king's favour by it;

O mighty man! referring either to his office, being the chief of Saul's herdmen, and set over his servants, 1 Samuel 21:7; or ironically, to the mighty deed he had done, in slaying the unarmed priests, and putting to death the very sucklings at the breast, and even the innocent sheep, oxen, and asses; or to his great wickedness and power to commit it; though man has no power and free will to that which is good, yet he has to that which is evil; so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and the eastern versions render it, "O thou! mighty in wickedness"; and to the same purpose the Targum paraphrases it, "mighty to shed innocent blood"; and the note of Aben Ezra is, "mighty to do evil". A learned writer (x) thinks this relates to Saul, and describes him as a man of power and dignity. The character well agrees with the little horn and Romish beast, Daniel 7:20;

the goodness of God endureth continually: that is, the love, grace, and mercy of God; this is observed as what is the matter of the saints' boasting, in opposition to the wicked boasting of Doeg; they glory in the love of God, and in that they know him who exerciseth lovingkindness, which is the source of all the blessings of grace and goodness; and in Christ, through whom all are communicated to them; and in him, as made every blessing to them, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: they ascribe the whole of their salvation, and all they have, to the grace of God, and glory in nothing as of themselves, and as though not received of the Lord. Moreover, the psalmist may take notice of this, as what was his support under all the persecutions he endured from men; that he had an interest in the grace and goodness of God, which is immutable and everlasting, invariably the same in all states and conditions; and that he was encompassed about with the favour of God as with a shield; and that it was not in the power of his most implacable enemies to separate him from the love of God; and therefore it was egregious folly in Doeg to boast himself in mischief; for, be he as mighty as he might, he could not prevent his sharing in the divine goodness, which always continues.

(w) "in malo", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus. (x) Delaney's Life of King David, vol. 1. p. 119.

<A Psalm of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech.>> Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O {a} mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.

(a) O Doeg, who half consider to be the tyrant Saul, and had the power to murder the saints of God.

1. This verse states the theme of the Psalm; the contrast between man’s wrongdoing and God’s lovingkindness. The two halves of the verse correspond to the two divisions of the Psalm. The statement of the second line is abruptly introduced, but it is virtually the answer to the question of the first. What avails it thee to boast of successful evil-doing (Psalm 10:3)? it is vain: the lovingkindness of God (endureth) all the day; that covenant love in which the Psalmist trusts (Psalm 52:8), and of which all His ‘saints’ (Psalm 52:9) are the object.

O mighty man] Perhaps simply, as P.B.V., thou tyrant, for power soon degenerates into tyranny: but rather perhaps with sarcastic irony, thou hero! Cp. Isaiah 5:22; Jeremiah 9:3.

God] El, ‘the strong one’ (cp. Psalm 50:1), is significantly used here. The braggart tyrant thinks himself strong, but there is a stronger than he, who will call him to account.

1–5. Denunciation of the evil-doer and prediction of his fate.

Verse 1. - Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? Doeg was "the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul" (1 Samuel 21:7), or, according to another passage (1 Samuel 22:9), "set over the servants of Saul." The position would be a high one, and would imply the possession of much physical strength. A sense of tyranny or extreme arrogance seems to attach to the word translated "mighty one" (gibber); see Genesis 6:4; Genesis 10:8. The word translated "mischief" implies something worse. In Psalm 6:9 it is rendered "wickedness," and is thought to mean, in the Psalms generally, "ruinous, unfathomable evil - destructive malignity" (Canon Cook). The goodness of God endureth continually. Why not follow the Divine pattern, instead of setting thyself in direct antagonism to it? Canst thou expect to prosper when thou art thus opposed to the Almighty? Psalm 52:1It is bad enough to behave wickedly, but bad in the extreme to boast of it at the same time as an heroic act. Doeg, who causes a massacre, not, however, by the strength of his hand, but by the cunning of his tongue, does this. Hence he is sarcastically called גּבּור (cf. Isaiah 5:22). David's cause, however, is not therefore lost; for it is the cause of God, whose loving-kindness endures continually, without allowing itself to be affected, like the favour of men, by calumny. Concerning הוּות vid., on Psalm 5:10. לשׁון is as usual treated as fem; עשׂה רמיּה (according to the Masora with Tsere) is consequently addressed to a person. In Psalm 52:5 רע after אהבתּ has the Dagesh that is usual also in other instances according to the rule of the אתי מרחיק, especially in connection with the letters כפתבגד (with which Resh is associated in the Book of Jezira, Michlol 96b, cf. 63b).

(Note: אתי מרחיק is the name by which the national grammarians designate a group of two words, of which the first, ending with Kametz or Segol, has the accent on the penult., and of which the second is a monosyllable, or likewise is accented on the penult. The initial consonant of the second word in this case receives a Dagesh, in order that it may not, in consequence of the first ictus of the group of words "coming out of the distance," i.e., being far removed, be too feebly and indistinctly uttered. This dageshing, however, only takes place when the first word is already of itself Milel, or at least, as e.g., מצאה בּית, had a half-accented penult., and not when it is from the very first Milra and is only become Milel by means of the retreating of the accent, as עשׂה פלא, Psalm 78:12, cf. Deuteronomy 24:1. The penultima-accent has a greater lengthening force in the former case than in the latter; the following syllables are therefore uttered more rapidly in the first case, and the Dagesh is intended to guard against the third syllable being too hastily combined with the second. Concerning the rule, vid., Baer's Thorath Emeth, p. 29f.)

The מן or מטּוב and מדּבּר is not meant to affirm that he loves good, etc., less than evil, etc., but that he does not love it at all (cf. Psalm 118:8., Habakkuk 2:16). The music which comes in after Psalm 52:5 has to continue the accusations con amarezza without words. Then in Psalm 52:6 the singing again takes them up, by addressing the adversary with the words "thou tongue of deceit" (cf. Psalm 120:3), and by reproaching him with loving only such utterances as swallow up, i.e., destroy without leaving a trace behind (בּלע, pausal form of בלע, like בּצע in Psalm 119:36, cf. the verb in Psalm 35:25, 2 Samuel 17:16; 2 Samuel 20:19.), his neighbour's life and honour and goods. Hupfeld takes Psalm 52:6 as a second object; but the figurative and weaker expression would then follow the unfigurative and stronger one, and "to love a deceitful tongue" might be said with reference to this character of tongue as belonging to another person, not with reference to his own.

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