“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?” (Psalm 52:1-9, NASB)
Have you ever heard of a man named Doeg? Well, today’s psalm can be titled, “A lesson from the boasting of Doeg.” Boasting in ourselves can be deceitful and dangerous. But we all do it from time to time. I have never known someone who does not boast. We boast sometimes to get recognition for our works, and other times, we do it out of jest. However, normal people don’t go around boasting about their evil deeds. It’s not natural. Yet we are seeing more and more people boasting of evil in our days. In today’s psalm, David said, “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long. Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.” It sounds disturbing, but people in David’s days were boasting in evil. It’s a warning to all of us that we should make sure that our boasting in life is in God because all other boastings will lead you down the path of evil. This psalm was written by David after the event recorded in 1 Samuel 21-22. While fleeing Saul’s lunacy, David sought refuge among the priests in Nob. A man named Doeg saw what was happening and seized the opportunity to move up the ranks by reporting the matter to Saul. Then Saul became angry at the priests for helping David. When he became enraged and commanded that these priests be killed, no one stepped forward because of the fear of God. Doeg, on the other hand, stepped forward and slaughtered 85 innocent priests that day. Thus, he moved up in the ranks of Saul’s army using treachery, violence, and cruelty. Upon hearing about this day’s events, David wrote this psalm especially dedicated to Doeg the Edomite. David challenged, “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?” Doeg thought that he was a big man for killing the priests, but David saw him as a coward. In verses 5-7, David predicted, “But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up, and tear you away from your tent, and uproot you from the land of the living. And the righteous will see and fear, and will laugh at him, saying, ‘Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and was strong in his evil desires.” You don’t have to be a sword-swinger to be considered a mighty man. You can be mighty and evil in so many ways. David’s words can be applied to them as well. Why do you boast in your abilities? Why do you boast in your riches? Why do you boast in your intelligence? Why do you boast about your fame? You are a worker of deceit. You love evil more than good. You love speaking falsehood more than truth. You will not last long in life for God’s judgment is coming. He will break you, bring you down, and cut you off. Although this psalm was specifically written for Doeg, there is something to be said for all of us. There is a lesson to be learned from the boasting of Doeg. The righteous will make their boasting in God. All other boastings will lead you down the path of evil. We live in a world in which boasting of man’s might is the norm. We boast in our athletic abilities, intellectual abilities, and creative abilities. We also boast in our technologies, stocks, and even religious advancements. Our nation boasts its status as a superpower in economy, politics, and military. Yet boasting of man tends to make us proud, arrogant, and rebellious. Apostle Paul understood this well as he said, “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness” (2 Cor.11:30). Even Christians can fall into this trap. God gave us spiritual abilities, cognitive abilities, creative abilities, and physical abilities, but if we forget to honor God, we end up glorifying ourselves. Boasting in God means we give glory and honor to the One who gave us all these things. This is the lesson we can learn from the boasting of Doeg.