May 10 2023
Today, Wednesday May 10
How to Respond to Evil People
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.’
“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, Lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah You love all devouring words, You deceitful tongue.”
As we study through the Psalms, we need to remember that they are not in order as to when they took place in history. Psalm 52 actually took place years before Psalm 51 was written and had taken place. In Psalm 51 we read of David’s confession of his sin of adultery and murder after he had successfully set up his kingdom. The story and history behind Psalm 51 is found in 2 Samuel 11-12.
The long title of Psalm 52 tells us exactly what the story is behind David writing it. You can and should read 1 Samuel 21-22 to get the fullest understanding of David’s heart and emotions as he is writing this Psalm. This Psalm is called a “Contemplation”, a “Maschil Psalm”, which is a Psalm of instruction. It is also the first of a series or four Psalms (Psalms 52, 53, 54, 55) that are grouped together and called “Maschil Psalms.
David is no doubt somewhat angry as he writes this “imprecatory Psalm”, calling down the righteous vengeance of God upon an evil man named Doeg. But this psalm was not the result of malice and spite as it deals with the inescapable justice of God.
Doeg was an Edomite, which was a black mark on any man's name in Israel especially in later years, for the Edomites, although close kin to the Israelites, were bitter enemies of the people of God. Herod the Great, who massacred the babes of Bethlehem, was an Edomite. Doeg was an Edomite. Yet somehow, despite his alien background, he had attained high rank in Israel, for he was chief of Saul's herdsmen. Any hatred King Saul harbored against David was magnified and intensified in the heart of Doeg
Doeg was dangerous and ungodly man. This also speaks ill of Saul that he would keep a man of Doeg's disposition about him. But he did and that highlights one of the great differences between Saul and David. David kept some rough characters around him, too, but David had a way with men and contact with David transformed them. Contact with Saul just brought out the worst in those around him.
When you read 1 Samuel 21-22, you find that at this time David was a fugitive running from jealous King Saul. King Saul had already made sixteen attempts to murder David, and David, taking matters into his own hands, decided to flee the country and find refuge with the Philistines. Saul was afraid of the Philistines. He might have had a long arm, but did not dare thrust it into Philistine country.
Hurrying over Mount Olivet, David came to Nob. In those days the ancient Tabernacle rested at Nob in the shade of the olive trees which clothed the slopes and summit of Olivet. In those days, too, the high priest of Israel resided there. He was Ahimelech, a descendant of Eli and a man with a healthy fear of king Saul.
Ahimelech saw David coming and was not eager to meet him. David asked for bread for himself and his men and Ahimelech gave David the consecrated loaves from the table of shewbread in the holy place of the Tabernacle—loaves set aside by divine decree for the use of the priests alone. (Jesus mentions this incident in the Gospels).
David also asked for the sword of Goliath and got it from Ahimelech. He noticed that Doeg, the chief herdsman of Saul was there and knew that it was probably future trouble. And sure enough, later when David is hiding in the cave at Adullam, someone tells him that Doeg has reported to King Saul about his visit with Ahimelech. We believe that is when David responded and wrote this Psalm.
We all have experienced the presence of evil people in our lives. and it is very difficult to deal with them. After David addresses Doeg’s evil, proud boasting, calling him a “big shot”, he immediately reminds himself that “the goodness of God endures continually.” (v. 1). We need to keep that in mind as we ask for God’s grace in responding to the evil in the world around us!