See and Fear
“The righteous shall see and fear, and they will mock. ‘Look at the mighty one who would not have God as his refuge and trusted in his abundance and riches! He found strength in his own destruction!”
(Psalm 52:8-9 [verses 6-7 in English translations])
It seems kind of odd to picture believers mocking the downfall of anyone. We are so used to the language of loving and forgiving our enemies, it seems that we have trouble reconciling the two. Of course, scripture doesn’t seem to see any disharmony in this. Yes, the psalmist is mocking those who have chosen to flee from God’s rule and into the means of their own destruction, but at the same time, repeatedly God’s word has called those outside of the faith to repent of their wicked ways and come to God for forgiveness. When one refuses the counsel of wisdom being offered is rejected and the person continues to choose folly, there is a sense that they are getting what they deserve.
The language of the “mighty one” ought to be seen as sarcastic. Usually the term refers to a heroic warrior on the battlefield, but remember the one being spoken of in the immediate context is Doeg the Edomite, servant of Saul, who slew a family of priests…hardly something that would be marked as a glorious battle or achievement. Doeg trusted in his own status and the wealth of Saul, not taking counsel even from Saul’s other soldiers that attacking priests was just not to be done. How drastically sin and greed blind.
The final statement is the most significant of these two verses: “he found strength in his destruction.” In other words, the things that would destroy him are the things that he sought to magnify and revel in. Such is the pathway of sin. Paul writes in Romans 1 that part of God’s judgment is to withdraw his hand of restraint and allow you to pursue sin and wickedness to your own end. We bury ourselves in our sin, reveling in those things that undo us. How good the grace of God is that delivers us from this end, but how wicked we are in pursuing that end. Beloved, do not find strength in the things that will destroy you; find strength in God alone and you will live.