Craving Justice – Reflection on Psalm 52

Psalm 52

Some Background

God rejected Saul as king because of his disobedience. Saul also had a deep paranoia concerning David because he Saul believed David was trying to take the throne from him. Saul wanted David dead.

As David ran from Saul, he went to the priests at Nob and requested food and provisions. Ahimelech, the priest, thought David was on an assignment from the king and provided bread, provisions, and Goliath’s sword to David.

Doeg, one of Saul’s servants, was there that day. He told Saul what had happened. Saul went to Nob and asked Ahimelech why he had helped David, his enemy. Ahimelech responded in shock that David was not on the king’s business. Ahimelech believed David was a faithful servant and son-in-law to Saul.

Saul didn’t believe Ahimelech and told his soldiers to kill the priests. When they wouldn’t do it, Doeg stepped in and did the task. It was a horrible scene. Eighty-five innocent priests were killed in cold-blood.

David wrote this Psalm against Doeg.

Craving for Justice

There’s something within all of us that craves justice. David knew an injustice had been done. The priests were innocent. They weren’t helping David escape from Saul, they thought they were helping the king. David believed that one day Doeg would be repaid for his evil.

From time to time we may run into a Doeg or two. It seems like they are bound and determine to cause trouble. They hurt others and they hurt us. They care nothing about justice.

Sowing and Reaping

It is a tempting thought; those who have hurt us and humiliated us will one day “get theirs.” What they give, they will receive. Is this revenge, or is it a deep seated belief that justice is woven into the fabric of the universe?

Paul wrote that God will not be mocked, what a man sows he reaps. We see the sowing and reaping rhythm in nature. You plant a bean seed, you reap beans. You sow evil, you reap evil…or so we think. Sometimes it seems like those bent on evil get away with their acts, leaving us yearning for justice.

Powerless

We are powerless over many of the evil workers, the “lover of lies”. The bottom line is that we can’t always do much.

Perhaps David felt powerless. The scene at Nob is heart wrenching. Innocent priests dead at the hand of a paranoid king and a solider looking to rise in the ranks. David felt responsible given that he did lead Ahimelech to believe he was on king’s business (1 Samuel 22:22).

At the time of the incident, David wasn’t the king. Saul was trying to kill David because Saul believed David was after the throne, but David wasn’t. While he had been anointed as king, he was not using that fact to oust Saul.

Saul viewed David as a threat to his kingdom, but David was not actively pursuing the kingdom. David was running to stay alive, not overthrow Saul. Ultimately, it was Saul’s own disobedience and paranoia that was his demise.

Trusting God

Why wasn’t David pursuing the kingdom after being anointed as king? It would be understandable if he had. God had rejected Saul as king. David could have justified taking the kingdom from Saul. But that wasn’t what David did.

David seemed to be willing to wait. He would be king one day and he wasn’t going to take the kingdom by force. He was waiting for God to deliver the kingdom. He was patient. In other words, he was willing to wait on God and God’s timing.

Flourishing

David’s desire to trust God is reflected in the end of the Psalm. In contrast to those like Doeg, David believed, ultimately, his fate was sealed in God’s steadfast love. “I’m like an olive tree,” he writes. Of the evil doers, which Doeg certainly is, he believes God will “uproot” them (Psalm 52:5). David will flourish because he is trusting in the steadfast love of God.

Justice delayed makes us want to take matters into our own hands. It is hard to wait on God and God’s timing. When we do, however, we flourish. Trusting in the steadfast love of God isn’t easy, but there is no other way to discover and experience God’s true justice and peace. May the peace of God surround your heart and life.

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