Psalm 52:2
Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp rasor, working deceitfully.
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(2) Working deceitfully.—Better, working guile. (For the metaphor, see Psalm 55:21; Psalm 57:4, &c)

Psalm 52:2. Thy tongue deviseth mischief — That is, expresses what thy wicked mind had devised. Thus skilfulness is ascribed to those hands which are governed by a skilful man, Psalm 78:72. Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully — Wherewith a person, pretending only to shave off the hair, doth suddenly and unexpectedly cut a man’s throat. So Doeg, pretending only to vindicate himself from the imputation of disloyalty, 1 Samuel 22:8, really intended to expose the priests, who were friends to David, to the king’s fury and cruelty.

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.Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs - The word rendered "mischiefs" means

(a) desire, cupidity: Proverbs 10:3; then

(b) fall, ruin, destruction, wickedness: Psalm 5:9; Psalm 38:12.

The meaning here is, that he made use of his tongue to ruin others. Compare Psalm 50:19. The particular thing referred to here is the fact that Doeg sought the ruin of others by giving "information" in regard to them. He "informed" Saul of what Ahimelech had done; he informed him where David had been, thus giving him, also, information in what way he might be found and apprehended. All this was "designed" to bring ruin upon David and his followers. It "actually" brought ruin on Ahimelech and those associated with him, 1 Samuel 22:17-19.

Like a sharp razor - See the notes at Isaiah 7:20. His slanders were like a sharp knife with which one stabs another. So we stay of a slanderer that he "stabs" another in the dark.

Working deceitfully - literally, making deceit. That is, it was by deceit that he accomplished his purpose. There was no open and fair dealing in what he did.

2. tongue—for self.

mischiefs—evil to others (Ps 5:9; 38:12).

working deceitfully—(Ps 10:7), as a keen, smoothly moving razor, cutting quietly, but deeply.

Deviseth i.e. expresseth what thy wicked mind had devised. Thus skilfulness is ascribed to those hands which are governed by a skilful or prudent man, Psalm 78:72. This word implies that Doeg’s words were not uttered rashly and unadvisedly, but with premeditated malice, and a mischievous design, which he waited for an opportunity to execute; and therefore he readily took the first occasion which offered itself.

Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully; wherewith a man pretending only to shave off the hair, doth suddenly and unexpectedly cut the throat. So Doeg pretended only to vindicate himself from the imputation of disloyalty, 1 Samuel 22:8, but really intended to expose the priests, who were friends to David, to the king’s fury and cruelty.

Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs,.... Abundance of mischiefs, in a variety of ways, against many persons, even all good men. What properly belongs to the heart is here ascribed to the tongue; because, as Aben Ezra observes, it is the interpreter and discoverer of the thoughts of the heart: out of the abundance of that the tongue speaks and declares the mischief it has devised. Doeg intended mischief to David, when he spoke to Saul, 1 Samuel 22:9; so antichrist devises mischiefs against the saints of the most High, to wear them out, and thinks to change times and laws, Daniel 7:25;

like a sharp razor, working deceitfully; that is, his tongue was like a razor; the razor is but a small instrument, and the tongue is but a little member: the razor is a sharp and cutting one, and so is the tongue; and therefore compared to a sharp sword, Psalm 57:4; see Jeremiah 18:18; the razor takes off the beard cleanly and wholly; Doeg's tongue was the cause of the utter ruin of Ahimelech's family and the city of Nob; and as a razor may be said to "work deceitfully", when it turns aside in the hand of him that useth it, and with the hair takes off more than it should, even skin and flesh, or cuts the man's throat; so in a deceitful and insidious manner did Doeg work the destruction of Ahimelech and the priests of the Lord.

Thy tongue deviseth {b} mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

(b) Your malice moves you by crafty flattery and lies to accuse and destroy the innocents.

2. Thy tongue deviseth] Cp. Psalm 35:20. Sins of the tongue—falsehood, slander, false witness, and the like—are frequently denounced in the Psalms and by the Prophets. See Psalm 5:9; Psalm 10:7; Psalm 12:2 ff; Micah 6:12; Jeremiah 9:3; &c.

mischiefs] R.V., very wickedness (as in Psalm 5:9); or destruction, perhaps not without a reminiscence of the original meaning of the word, a yawning gulf, for his tongue is ready to swallow up (Psalm 52:4) the righteous. The plur. denotes mischief or destructiveness of every kind.

like a sharp rasor] Lit., like a whetted rasor, which cuts you before you are aware, as you handle it incautiously. The tongue and its words are elsewhere compared to swords and spears and arrows (Psalm 55:21, Psalm 57:4, Psalm 59:7, Psalm 64:3; cp. Proverbs 26:18). Comp. Shakespeare, Cymbeline, iii.4,

“’Tis slander,

Whose edge is sharper than the sword.”

working deceitfully] The partic. cannot, unless we assume a laxity of construction, be in agreement with thy tongue; nor can it well be referred to the sharp rasor. It is best to take it as a vocative, O thou worker of deceit. Cp. Psalm 101:7.

Verse 2. - Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; or, malignities - evils of the worst kind. It was Doeg's "tongue" that brought about the entire ghastly massacre (see 1 Samuel 22:9, 10). Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. Doeg had "worked deceitfully," since he had not told Saul the circumstances that made Ahimelech's giving aid to David no disloyalty to the king (1 Samuel 21:2, 8). The suppressio veri is a suggestio falsi. Psalm 52:2It 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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