Today, I’m looking at Psalm 52. This Psalm was written by David when Doeg the Edomite told Saul that David had gone to see Ahimilek the priest.
So I read the story of what happened with Doeg in I Samuel 22. What a gruesome tale! Saul is upset because Ahimelek helped David. “Saul said to [Ahimelek], “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?”
“I’m loyal to you!” Ahimelek insists to Saul. “David’s come to me before to inquire of the Lord. It wasn’t unusual for me to help him.”
But Saul only sees treachery, and he orders Ahimilek and all the priests in the town of Nob to be killed. Saul’s soldiers won’t kill the priests. So Doeg, the very one who betrayed David, does it himself. He slaughters 85 priests. Then, he spearheads the massacre of all of the men, women and children in Nob, along with all of the cattle.
So when David writes Ps 52, he has some pretty strong words to say about the one he calls sarcastically “mighty hero,” the one most people think is Doeg.
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!
Let me focus on one thing David says here: “You love evil rather than good.”
Doeg did love evil. And we can all think of people who fit into the category of loving evil rather than good.
But could this ever apply to us as well? I’m reading “Radical Restoration by F. LaGard Smith, and he raises the question: “Given the materialism, immodesty, immorality, unauthorized divorce and remarriage, and shallow spirituality which has become endemic among us, can we assert with assurance that we have no need, as an entire family of God, to let the words of his Book rebuke us? As God’s covenant people, do we not, even now, need to renew our covenant to follow the Lord?”
It reminds me of the verse in II Timothy where Paul indicts those of our age who, as he says, are not lovers of the good.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. II Timothy 3:1-4.
Some of this stuff is me! I am a lover of pleasure. I can wear things that border on immodesty. I watch things on TV that are immoral. I love stuff too much. I love glory for myself. I want to make things all about me.
So this verse can be speaking to me, to all of us, even while it was written about a man a long time ago. We need to be constantly taking stock, constantly reassessing our spirituality.
Ken read me John Porter’s latest blog last night, and it kicked my booty. It talked about the importance of being grateful. (Ingratitude is one of the sins listed in II Timothy.) I’ve been struggling with intermittent depression lately and I’ve lost touch with thankfulness. Here is some of what Porter wrote which was like he was preaching to me!
“In my personal journey, I have struggled immensely to remain grateful during my trials. It seems to me that gratitude is the first thing “to go”. The unfortunate consequence of this decision is a lack of awareness of God’s presence with me during my trials. As Christians we are not just called to suffer, but to suffer well. The key to “suffering well” is to remain aware of God’s presence with us during our struggles as was modeled for us by Jesus during his final hours before his death. Unfortunately, many of us have the tendency to pull back from God and from others when we are suffering. This can cause our pain to evolve into trauma. The path to recovering the desperately needed connection to God is gratitude.”
It’s so true. I was losing my connection with God because I wasn’t being grateful. And gratitude is what I needed to reconnect. I started telling God, “Thank you, God, that I am feeling depressed. Thank you that it is forcing me to dig deeper for strength from you.”
Because that, really is what God is all about, all through the Bible. He puts people through wilderness times so that they will build a steely strength of reliance in him.
You know, God could have put David straight on the throne. But he had David go out to barren places and be a fugitive for years, so David could learn to rely even more on God. The same is true for Joseph, for the Israelites, for Daniel, and, of course for Jesus, who was tempted in the desert for 40 days.
So look how Psalm 52 goes on to chronicle the building of David’s character. He starts by quoting what others will say about Doeg, and ends speaking of himself:
“Here now is the man
who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!”
But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
David compares the strength of Doeg, who grew strong through wealth and deposing others, with his own strength in trusting in God’s love. David says this strength is so real and so great, he is like a prolific olive tree!
That is what we can be in God.
I love to make plans. I come up with ideas and ways to achieve goals. Many of my plans don’t come to fruition. I’m not disciplined. Things go wrong.
But as I was praying yesterday, I saw how God has a plan, and it is so much more solid and substantial than my plans. It stretches into history and into the future. It doesn’t crumble or have weaknesses.
Yet when things go wrong, I think everything is falling apart! How foolish I am! The firm girders of God’s plan are in place, just as they always are, and God is building on them every day.
In conclusion, let’s make sure that we don’t love evil, but reassess our spirituality every day. Let’s be grateful. Let’s remember that even when evil seems to be winning, God is still working his good plan.
As David says in the close of the psalm:
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.