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Bible: What Does Psalms 52-5 Teach Us About the Goodness of God and the Value of Prayer?

Updated on September 15, 2016

King David


Green Olive Tree


Psalms 52-55: Experiencing the Goodness of a Faithful God Through Prayer

Again, the superscription plays a key role in providing the psalm’s historical context; here, David relates his reaction to the Edomite informant Doeg's report to Saul (see 1 Sam. 22:9).

Described as a “contemplation,” (as are the next three psalms), it is a biting denunciation of this man who would see Saul succeed.

David asserts that Doeg is foolish to try to flout God's goodness toward the king with his evildoing (v. 1).

He calls him a wicked, destructive liar (vv. 2-4) and announces Doeg’s destruction and violent death (v. 5).

The righteous will also mock him for relying upon his wealth and evil desires (vv. 6-7).

On the other hand, David considers himself greatly blessed (“like a green olive tree in the house of God”; cf. Jer. 11:16), professes his trust in the LORD's mercy, and promises to praise Him for all of His good deeds (vv. 8-9).

[God does good to the righteous, but He does not stand long for insolence].

Psalm 53

Except for a few changes, this psalm is a repetition of Psalm 14.

In verse two the writer substitutes “God” for “the LORD”; a few words differ in verses three and four. But the major dissimilarities occur in verse five (cf. 14: 5, 6).

Psalm 14 does not include "where no fear was," and speaks about God's presence with "the generation of the righteous,” whom He protects from those who would put them to shame.

Here, David explicitly recounts how God protected Israel by “scattering the bones” of their enemies.

[The ungodly have no fear of God, but the LORD will reverse that attitude someday].

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Psalm 54

Again, the superscription illumines the exposition. David faces more adversaries (here, the Ziphites, 1 Sam. 23:19) who wish to hand him over to Saul (see Ps. 52 superscription).

[Ziph is in “the highland district in Judah; it is named between Carmel and Juttah (Josh. 15:55)” [Unger, Bible Dictionary, 1190]].

He prays for deliverance from strangers who do not regard God (vv. 1-3).

As always, the psalmist turns toward the LORD for help, and thus knows that his enemies will fall (vv. 4-5).

Verses 6-7 indicate an ex post-facto situation; God has answered his prayer, and David praises Him.

[It is remarkable how God continually showed Himself mighty through David’s prayers].

Psalm 55

Under hateful, enemy harassment, David pleads desperately for God's presence and attention (vv. 1-3).

His emotional distress—a severely pained “heart,” the oppressive “terrors of death,” “fearfulness and trembling, and overwhelming “horror”—is so great that he wishes that he could escape to a quiet place in the wilderness and abide there (vv. 4-8).

Turning toward the LORD, David bids Him to judge his enemies in an exceedingly violent and wicked city (vv. 9-11, 15), whose leader is not one who hates him, but one who was once his good friend (vv. 12-14).

[This account resembles the time Absalom turned against David, and took the false counsel of Hushai instead of the wise counsel of Ahithophel (see 2 Sam. 15:12; 16:15-17:14].

David is confident that the LORD will honor his importunity throughout the whole day (“evening, morning, noon”), because He is faithful (vv. 16-19).

While distraught over the treachery of this friend whose deceitfulness broke their covenant, he nevertheless draws comfort from the LORD who would sustain him through it all (vv. 20-22).

The writer is certain that God, his Trust, will destroy his enemies (v. 23).

[Non-stop trials elicit importunity; prior experiences with grace yield an expectant faith].

© 2013 glynch1


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