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Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!

“You love all of the words of confusion on a tongue of trickery.

But God will tear you down forever,

He will take you and drag you from your tent;

He will repeatedly uproot you from the land of the living.

Selah!

(Psalm 52:6-7 {verses 4-5 in English Translations})

 

Here we transition and David proclaims the judgment of God against those whose words are filled with deceit, whose ends are their own stomachs, and whose love is to confuse (some translations render this word as “devour” as it shares a root with the word that means “to swallow,” yet in context, “confuse” seems to be a more accurate choice given the word’s range of meaning). Though the wicked love words of trickery (that double-tongue, speaking out of both sides of their mouth), God loves words of truth and will punish those whose ends differ from his own. God will tear them down, he will drag them from their homes, and over and over, he will uproot them from the land of the living. He will lay bare their generation.

How liberating it is to know that we have a God who will bring those who tear us down and destroy us into judgment — a God who will frustrate the plans of the wicked and establish the righteous in places of security. Your initial response might be, “But wait a minute, in the world we live in it seems like the wicked prosper and the righteous get beaten down.” Indeed, that was David’s experience as he was writing this psalm. At the same time, while David did not see the whole of the big picture, he did stand in the confidence of knowing that God does see the big picture and his hand controls every step we take. All too often, when we are in the midst of trials, we cannot see what it is that God is doing, or, we get focused on how we would like God to work out his plan for his church and not on how God is working out his plan for his church. And we are HIS church, by the way…

Ultimately life and blessing and judgment is about God and not about me. It is his will and his design and we can find our comfort in knowing that once everything is said and done, and we are finally able to understand the plan and design of God for our lives from His perspective, our words of response will be, “Blessed is the Name of the Lord, Amen!”

Destructions and Treachery

“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. 

(John 15:18-20)

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 (John 13:35) — when we choose not to live out that love in fellowship, what does it say about the quality of our witness?

Psalm 52

“To the director of music: a Maskil of David. When Doeg the Edomite came and declared to Saul, saying to him: ‘David has come to the house of Achimelek.”

(Psalm 52:1-2 [Superscript in English Translations])

 

Though this psalm can be sung and prayed in many contexts, those with superscripts like this one give us a great deal of help in understanding the context within which the psalm was written. At this point in history, David is still on the run from Saul; he and his men are weary and hungry, and he goes to the priests at Nob (where the Tabernacle was at the time) and received the shewbread as well as Goliath’s sword (1 Samuel 21). Jesus himself refers to this event when he teaches that the Pharisaical restrictions on the Sabbath day did not apply to him or to his disciples (Mark 2:23-28).

What follows is disturbing to say the least. Doeg the Edomite tells Saul that Achimelek (whose name interestingly means: “Brother to the King”) has collaborated with David. While Saul’s own men refuse to strike down the priest of God; Doeg does not share that reservation, takes his men, and slays Achimelek and his family — 85 persons in all. Only Abiathar (whose name means: “My Father Gives Generously”) escapes to warn David (1 Samuel 22).

Thus in his time of distress and righteous anger (for the priests of God were slain), David turns to prayer and writes this psalm. We don’t know whether he wrote it immediately as his response to the news that Abiathar brings or later as he recalls this event, either way, these words reflect his heart’s response in the face of such tragedy.

It raises the question as to how our hearts respond to tragedy as well. Do we resort to prayer? Do we lift our hands in frustration and anger? Or, can we stand with David in utter astonishment at the brazen acts of sinful men and proclaim that we will wait patiently for God to vindicate his name. This does not mean that there is not a time to act, David did often, but often we get confused between the expression of our own difficulties and standing for the honor of our God and King. Also, are the words that come from our mouth in times of trial like these characterized by slander or worship? David’s words have guided the worship of God’s people for generations; can we say the same about our own words uttered at such times?