Hoping in God’s goodness
Seeing others grossly mistreated, we want to tell their abusers off. In David’s imagined talk, he does just that, but with a twist: he lets his angry words against the brute lead him to the God who cares.
A David psalm. When Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, “David went to Ahimelech’s house.”
1 Why do you brag
about your evildoing, Bigshot
when God’s unfailing love
holds strong all day long?
2 Like a well-honed razor
your tongue plots atrocity and crafts betrayal.
3 You love evil instead of good
lying instead of speaking truth.
4 You love using your words to devour
you treacherous tongue!
5 But God will demolish you once and for all—
grab you, uproot you from your home
and rip you out of the land of the living.
6 God-seekers will see it and be stunned.
Then they’ll laugh and exclaim
7 “Look what happened
to the guy who refused to trust in God
but relied on wealth and brute strength
to get ahead!”
8 But me? I’m like an olive tree
flourishing in God’s house.
I’ll trust in God’s unfailing love
forever and ever.
9 I’ll never stop thanking you
for what you’ve done, Lord.
In company with your faithful people
I’ll put my hope in your good name.
David wrote this after Doeg, Saul’s cutthroat Edomite employee, told Saul he’d seen the priests at the nation’s shrine assist David. Doeg knew well that this would trigger a murderous rage in Saul, but he cared only about what it would do for him—namely, win him Saul’s favor and rewards. When Saul’s guards blanched at his order to slaughter all the priests, Doeg stepped up to massacre hundreds of innocent people. And instead of feeling remorse, he was proud of his brutality. Like so many others, he’d embraced the twin lies that material wealth and power are all that matter, and we get ahead by ruthlessly looking out for “Number One.”
David knows how laughable this brute’s view of reality is, that he loves all the wrong things, and his life will eventually be cut short. So he directly challenges his lies, insisting that this bigshot’s evil hasn’t diminished God’s commitment to care for his own. Implicitly, David also challenges everyone vulnerable to the bigshot not to follow him, relying on their own intelligence and abilities, but to trust in God’s unfailing love instead. Like David, we truly flourish only by living in fellowship with God, within the community of his loyal servants, hoping in his goodness.
Trusting myself, not you, Lord, I end up stepping on others in my drive to get on top. But when I trust you and obey, you make me strong. Help me to tap into your strength and grow like an olive tree in your house, as I hope in your unfailing mercy and goodness. Amen.
In your spare moments today, ponder these words:
But me? I’m like an olive tree
flourishing in God’s house.