Psalm 52:2
The tongue devises mischiefs; like a sharp razor, 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. The third part now begins with a doubly urgent prayer. The invocation of God by the name Elohim is here made more urgent by the addition of אלהי תשׁוּעתי; inasmuch as the prayers for justification and for renewing blend together in the "deliver me." David does not seek to lessen his guilt; he calls it in דּמים by its right name, - a word which signifies blood violently shed, and then also a deed of blood and blood-guiltiness (Psalm 9:13; Psalm 106:38, and frequently). We have also met with הצּיל construed with מן of the sin in Psalm 39:9. He had given Uriah over to death in order to possess himself of Bathsheba. And the accusation of his conscience spoke not merely of adultery, but also of murder. Nevertheless the consciousness of sin no longer smites him to the earth, Mercy has lifted him up; he prays only that she would complete her work in him, then shall his tongue exultingly praise (רנּן with an accusative of the object, as in Psalm 59:17) God's righteousness, which, in accordance with the promise, takes the sinner under its protection. But in order to perform what he vowed he would do under such circumstances, he likewise needs grace, and prays, therefore, for a joyous opening of his mouth. In sacrifices God delighteth not (Psalm 40:7, cf. Isaiah 1:11), otherwise he would bring some (ואתּנה, darem, sc. si velles, vid., on Psalm 40:6); whole-burnt-offerings God doth not desire: the sacrifices that are well-pleasing to Him and most beloved by Him, in comparison with which the flesh and the dead work of the עולות and the זבחים (שׁלמים) is altogether worthless, are thankfulness (Psalm 50:23) out of the fulness of a penitent and lowly heart. There is here, directly at least, no reference to the spiritual antitype of the sin-offering, which is never called זבה. The inward part of a man is said to be broken and crushed when his sinful nature is broken, his ungodly self slain, his impenetrable hardness softened, his haughty vainglorying brought low, - in fine, when he is in himself become as nothing, and when God is everything to him. Of such a spirit and heart, panting after grace or favour, consist the sacrifices that are truly worthy God's acceptance and well-pleasing to Him (cf. Isaiah 57:15, where such a spirit and such a heart are called God's earthly temple).

(Note: The Talmud finds a significance in the plural זבחי. Joshua ben Levi (B. Sanhedrin 43b) says: At the time when the temple was standing, whoever brought a burnt-offering received the reward of it, and whoever brought a meat-offering, the reward of it; but the lowly was accounted by the Scriptures as one who offered every kind of sacrifice at once (כאילו הקריב כל הקרבנות כולן). In Irenaeaus, iv. 17, 2, and Clemens Alexandrinus, Paedag. iii. 12, is found to θυσία τῷ Θεῷ καρδία συντετριμμένη the addition: ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας τῷ Θεῷ καρδία δοξάζουσα τὸν πεπλακότα αὐτήν.)

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