“Destructions are planned by your tongue;
As a sharpened razor, you work treachery.”
(Psalm 52:4 [verse 2 in English translations])
Normally, we are not used to seeing the word “destruction in the plural.” Destruction is more or less total and the idea of repeating a destruction over and over seems rather redundant. At the same time, as David writes these words, he is communicating a great and deep truth when dealing with wicked people: wickedness feeds on itself. The wicked do not simply find their satisfaction in tearing you down once, but repeatedly they delight in kicking you down as you try and stand up. The question does not so much lie in whether they will be there with a boot to kick you in the head, but whether you are going to continue trying to stand as they continue trying to beat you down. Jesus said:
If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. If you were from the world, the world would love as one in the same. But because you are not from the world—rather I chose you from the world—for this, the world hates you. Remember the word which I spoke to you—a slave is not greater than his lord. If they drove me out, they will also drive you out. If they treasure my word, they will also treasure yours.
To drive the word-picture home, David continues by speaking of the tongue’s work of planning destruction as being like a sharpened razor, slicing away all that it touches and being the tool of treachery. The word that we render as “treachery” comes from the Hebrew root hAm∂r (ramah), which means “to abandon” or “to betray.” Of course, the ultimate betrayal of all time is that of Judas betraying our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, how often the actions of the world are marked by betrayal when dealing with believers in Christ Jesus.
More importantly, the contrast between the world’s oppression and the faithfulness of God should be made. While the world seeks destruction and betrayal, God builds up his own and promises never to leave or abandon us. It is sad that so often when people desire to be nurtured and treasured they turn only to those places that will betray and destroy. Of course, it is also sad that often the Christian church follows the world’s lead and betrays its own rather than demonstrating the love and faithfulness of Christ even when such things are difficult. Jesus said that the world will know that we are his disciples on the basis of our love for one another — when we choose not to live out that love in fellowship, what does it say about the quality of our witness?