God’s Word for You
Psalm 52:5-7 A condemned man
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, June 3, 2022
We have examined Doeg’s sin. Now David turns to Doeg’s judgment from God.
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
“Surely” in Hebrew is the particle gam, which can be emphatic (surely, indeed) or can mean “therefore” or “likewise.” This would draw a conclusion from what we know about this man and his sinful life and wicked actions. “God will deal with Doeg as Doeg dealt with others.”
When David says that God would tear Doeg “from [your] tent,” we notice that there is no “your” in the Hebrew text. The translator must make a decision here: Is Doeg torn from his own tent, or from God’s tent (that is, the tabernacle)? Either would make sense here, but perhaps most translators, if they consider the matter, feel that by murdering the high priest, the priests on duty, and their families, he had effectively torn himself away from the Lord’s tent. Therefore God’s judgment is: Just as you tore my people from my tent, so also I will tear you away from yours.” But more than canvas is meant; not just poles and ropes and some rugs on the ground. Doeg was going to be torn away from the land of the living. He would be uprooted like a thistle and tossed away. For the sake of all who turn from God, and for the sake of all who have been persecuted on account of their faith, David gives us a moment to ponder and meditate on the mighty arm of God by including another selah as a pause.
6 The righteous will see and fear;
they will laugh at him, saying,
7 “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!”
David often praises God as his true stronghold, the fortress in which he takes refuge (Psalm 9:9, 18:2, 144:2; 2 Samuel 22:3). The words spoken by the righteous here are not a taunt, but a true confession of faith. The unbeliever who trusts in himself will be damned for his damnable unbelief.
Doeg’s variety of unbelief is not always understood by good Christian people today. Doeg wasn’t condemned because he slipped into an accidental sin. Doeg was condemned because he had no faith in God at all. Some of our people are terrified that they cannot be saved because they think that they don’t live up to a standard of godliness that somebody else put into their heads. What God wants from us is faith, the very faith he himself gives to us in baptism and through the preaching of the gospel. But we constantly meet people who are drawn to our church because we preach about more than patriotism and recycling, because we preach Christ crucified for the sins of mankind, and these poor people are terrified. So I ask: “Do you believe that what you pray in the Creed is true? That Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried, rose again, etc., is all true?” “Oh, yes, pastor, of course I do!” “Then don’t let the devil kick you when you stumble in your daily sins. Come and receive the Lord’s Supper and the forgiveness of sins, and know that you have a place in heaven with your Savior forever.”
To paraphrase Luther: Your sins are bold; your sins are strong. But Christ is stronger still. Let your faith in Christ be strong and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where God’s justice resides. We, however, says Peter, are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where God’s justice will reign (2 Peter 3:13). It’s enough that by God’s grace that we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from him even if we commit thousands each day. Do you think that such an exalted Lamb paid a tiny little price with a meager sacrifice for sins? Pray hard, for you are quite a sinner. But God loves you and has covered your sins.
Don’t make the cross of Christ into a ticket for more sins. Make it the pillow that allows you to get to sleep at night, and sleep peacefully in the arms of Jesus, the true rest of forgiveness, peace, and the sure hope of the resurrection of the dead.
Pastor Timothy Smith