A Psalm a Day: Psalm 52

posted in: Psalms | 0

Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:

  • What is this Psalm about?
  • What does this Psalm teach about God?
  • How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.

psalm 52

On the 20th of September 2023, here’s Psalm 52:

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!

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
    He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
    he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear;
    they will laugh at you, saying,
“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.
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.

What is this Psalm about?

This Psalm is another kind of Psalm from ones we have seen – the bulk of it is a direct address ‘to the wicked’ (v1-7), contrasting with the closing two verses blending praise and a declaration of how God’s people should be. It is quite a personal Psalm – apparently it comes from David and his encounter with Doeg, as recorded in 1 Samuel 22:17-25 – and this makes it something that perhaps individuals can resonate with today.

What does this Psalm teach about God?

Psalm 52’s opening verses make it clear that no matter what a wicked person has done, God sees them (v1). Verse 5 describes three different dimensional ways that God will destroy and judge the wicked – perhaps pointing to both God’s judgement, and God’s total control of reality. Verse 7 implies (because ‘here now is the man who did not’) that people can make their stronghold and make God their refuge. This imagery is expanded in v8, perhaps, where God is described as having a house. Verse 8 also makes it clear that God is or has unfailing love. The final beautiful truth, in verse 9, is that God’s ‘name is good’.

How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

Psalm 52 can actually be deeply comforting – despite on the face of it being something of a tirade against someone. We live in a world and time where evil is boasted of, and loved; where falsehood and deceit is a common occurrence, and yet ultimately this world is one under God’s eyes, and will be under his judgement. Verses 8 and 9 give a clear steer for how God’s people are to live – flourishing in God’s house, trusting, praising and hoping – together with other ‘faithful people’.

A prayer drawn from Psalm 

Lord, you know the world we live in, the world you made and will remake. You know the evil that particularly affects me, and those close to me. Lord, make me like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 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. Amen

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