Psalm 52


This is a psalm which contrasts the righteous with the wicked, it reveals the frustration the righteous have toward the wicked and their ungodly ways.

The historical setting is found in 1 Samuel 21-22 where we find that Doeg told Saul where David was and told him about the help David received from the priests who served there. Asa result, Saul had Doeg kill the priests and others at the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 22:18-19.


‘For the director of music. A maskil of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding about the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this psalm was for the director of music. Some commentators believe that ‘director or music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

No one really knows what the word ‘maskil’ means, some believe it’s a musical term or a literary term. The word is used thirteen times throughout the Psalms, Psalm 32 / Psalm 42 / Psalm 44 / Psalm 45 / Psalm 52 / Psalm 53 / Psalm 54 / Psalm 55 / Psalm 74 / Psalm 78 / Psalm 88 / Psalm 89 / Psalm 142. The word is also used in Amos 5:13.

In 1 Samuel 21-22 we find the historical background where Doeg told Saul where David was and told him about the help David received from the priests who served there. As a result, Saul had Doeg kill the priests and others at the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 22:18-19.

‘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.’ Psalm 52:1-5

David begins this psalm with thoughts about Doeg the Edomite and the evil report he brought to King Saul. As far as David is concerned, what Doeg had done was evil, boastful and disgraceful, 1 Samuel 22:9.

Doeg was no ‘mighty hero’, he killed 85 priests, their wives, children and livestock, the priests weren’t trained soldiers, they were priests who had no experience in battle, 1 Samuel 22:18-19.

David tells us just how deceitful Doeg was, his whole life was directed by his evil tongue, which worked like a ‘sharpened razor’, Isaiah 7:20, in other words, what Doeg said, caused a lot of damage, even murder, Psalm 5:9 / Psalm 38:12 / Proverbs 18:21 / James 3:8.

Remember David did do wrong at the tabernacle, he did lie to Ahimelek, but he admitted his wrongdoings and took full responsibility for doing so, 1 Samuel 22:14 / 1 Samuel 22:22. But he also knew he wasn’t responsible for the killing of those 85 priests.

You may notice at the end of verse three, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates what Doeg had done to those 85 priests, their families and livestock.

After pausing for a breath, David is confident that God will ‘destroy’ Doeg for what he did, Leviticus 14:45 / Judges 6:30 / 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

He is confident that God would bring judgment upon Doug, he will be ‘snatched up and pluck out of his tent’, that is removed from his house and he will be removed from ‘the land of the living,’ Isaiah 53:8 / Ezekiel 32:32. In other words, he is destined to die, Hebrews 9:27.

‘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.’ Psalm 52:6-9

David says when Doeg is destroyed and removed from the land of the living, the righteous will see it, Psalm 37:34, and they will fear God, that is they will be afraid to turn away from God’s will.

The righteous will also laugh in satisfaction at the destruction of such evil men, Psalm 58:10 / Psalm 64:9-10 / Proverbs 1:26, that is, they will rejoice that evil didn’t win the day. They will laugh because such men trust in their wealth, instead of trusting God, Psalm 62:10 / Matthew 7:2 / 1 Timothy 6:9-10 / 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

It appears that David is implying that Doeg murdered those 85 priests, their wives and their children and their animals, for financial gain. 1 Samuel 22 indicates that Doeg did this to gain the favour of Saul, but the favour of a king could be a path to significant riches.

When David encountered Doeg, it happened at the ‘house of God’, that is, the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 21:1-7. It’s possible that he saw an ‘olive tree’ nearby, which was ‘flourishing’, because it was planted close to the tabernacle, Psalm 1:3 / Psalm 92:13. As a result of seeing this flourishing olive tree, David could say that he trusts in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

David is confident that God will bring an end to Doeg and as a result, he will always praise God in front of the faithful, Psalm 22:25 / Psalm 35:18 / Psalm 111:1 / Isaiah 38:20, He will always hope in God’s good name, Psalm 69:30 / Proverbs 18:10.


In this psalm David reminded us of the many downfalls of Doeg the Edomite. He trusted in his own strength, rather than God’s strength, Proverbs 3:5-6 / Acts 17:28, he denied God and despised man and it cost him his life.

It’s never a good idea to leave God out of our lives, as this will only lead us into sin, which will result in shame and misery, Ecclesiastes 2:12-26.

Doeg also made the mistake of trusting in his riches, rather than trusting in God, he was worldly and covetous, 1 John 2:15. It’s never a good idea to put our hope in our wealth which is here today and gone tomorrow, it’s always better to put our hope in God, Mark 10:23 / 1 Timothy 6:17.

Go To Psalm 53


"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John 1:9