“Why boasteth thou thyself on mischief, O mighty man?” Psalm 52:1
By James C. Stephens
Spurgeon comments, “Doeg had small matter for boasting in having procured the slaughter of a band of defenseless priests. A mighty man indeed to kill men who never touched a sword! He ought to have been ashamed of his cowardice. He had no room for exultation! Honorable titles are but irony where the wearer is mean and cruel.”
The story of this incident is instructive and exhibits the deceitfulness of sin on the part of David who was fleeing for his life from the wrath of King Saul and it also exhibits the extreme and unjustifiable cruelty of a corrupt monarch fueled by hell who was bent on David’s destruction and anyone else who got in his way.
As you may recall, David had fled Saul after Saul’s son Jonathan had warned David that his father was going to kill him. David, who had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the future King had become the target of King Saul who was determined to wipe out any who sought to take his throne. As David was fleeing he sought food from Ahimelech the preist who asked him why he was alone? David, feared for his life and lied to the priest and told him he was on the king’s business and needed food and a weapon since he was unarmed. Having no reason to doubt the truth of his statement, the priest supplied him with holy bread and the Sword of Goliath which he had been assigned to keep.
Shortly afterwards, he fled as he was being pursued by King Saul and his men. When Saul came into the city of Nob which was a city of priests, Saul’s head shepherd Doeg, the Edomite who had witnessed the encounter between David and Ahimelech reported it to King Saul who then summoned the priest and brutally questioned him. Ahimelech was not guilty of any conspiracy, but the King in his wrath ordered the execution of Ahimelech and 85 priests and when no one would obey the order to strike them, he ordered Doeg who struck down all 85 priests and Abimelech. He then went into the city of Nob, the city of priests, and it’s recorded that “he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep–with the edge of the sword.” 1 Samuel 22:16-19.
The psalmist records that the wicked man’s tongue is “Like a sharp razor.” Willam Plumer comments, “The smooth, adroit manner of executing a wicked device neither hides nor abates its wickedness.” It always seems that the proud need to boast of their ingenious, but wicked design. They have a taste for abusive language.
“O thou deceitful tongue.” Spurgeon observes, “Men can manage to say a great many furious things and yet cover all over with the pretext of justice. They claim that they are jealous for the right, but the truth is they are determined to put down truth and holiness and craftily go about it under this transparent pretense…(in their proud little hour) they set their heel upon the necks of the LORD’s chosen.”
The proud man does not make God his refuge. Lies become his refuge.
“But trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.” There is no fear of God before his eyes.
Spurgeon concludes, “The substance he had gathered and the mischeifs he had wrought were his boast and glory. Wealth and wickedness are dreadful companions; when combined they make a monster. When the devil is master of money bags, (when Esau sold his inheritance for a measely bowl of hot cereal), he is a devil indeed. Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. God loves with a perfect love, but He also hates with a perfect and just hatred.
Ask, what happens to the just in these trials? Well, recall what happened to Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego when the furnace was heated seven times hotter for their threatened execution. Who appeared in the fire? The fourth man, who appeared to be like the Son of God walking in their midst and they were not hurt. Then Nebuchadnezzar called them out of the fire and they came out unsinged and unburned. But as you may recall those servants who had heated it were burned to death. Then the King repented and recognized his sinful deed and ordered the protection of these men and their right to worship God unobstructed.
But what happens to the man who trusts in his own devices and riches?
By their own hand and by their own devices, they like Judas take their own lives. “Wherever we see today a man great in sin and substance, we shall do well to anticipate his end and view this verse as the divine memoriam. “