Psalm 52:6

The "mighty man" might have been Doeg or some other who had gained notoriety as a betrayer.

I. THE ODIOUSNESS OF HIS CHARACTER. It is marked by deceitfulness. Craft and lying are the tools of the betrayer. He cannot get on without them, and he waxes expert in their use. He may pretend friendship, but malice is in his heart. Even if he speaks truth, it is not in love, but in hate. "Whispering tongues can poison truth," Beat on mischief, he does not think of consequences. If he can injure the man he hates, he cares not though the innocent also should suffer. When he comes by a secret, which may be turned to advantage, he is elated. His paltry soul swells within him, he grows big with the idea of his own importance. Life and death are in the power of his tongue. And when his miserable schemes succeed, he boasts as if he had done a brave thing; as if he were the hero of the hour.

II. THE TERRIBLENESS OF HIS DOOM. There was a time when Doeg seemed to succeed. Then he may have blessed his soul, and the men of Saul's court, no doubt, praised him, while he was doing good, as they thought, to himself, and was able to do good to them. But changes came. His real character was unmasked. The fearful results of his treachery were brought to light, and then he must have become the object of detestation to all right-thinking men. It is thus that reputations built on sand fall in the day of trial. The judgment of yesterday may be reversed to-day. The men who stand high to-day may be covered with scorn and infamy to-morrow. God is long-suffering. He even bears long, and strangely, with the wicked. But their day is coming. The judgment described in the psalm is terrible in its completeness. Image is added to image. The metaphors rise in intensity and force. There is not only defeat, as of a house beaten down, but there is expulsion, as from a home made desolate; and more, there is extinction, as of a family rooted out of the land (ver. 5). The overthrow is complete, and all this is by the hand of God, indicating that all deceit and malice and evil-doing are contrary to the Divine order, and doomed in the end to ruin. There is a conscience in society, and, as it is rightly quickened and enlightened, it says "Amen" to God's righteous judgments.

III. THE MORAL LESSONS OF HIS LIFE. There is much here deserving close study. Learn:

1. The justice of God. He is ever on the side of truth. His judgments are all righteous.

2. The folly of sin. (Ver. 7.)

3. The blessedness of the righteous. This lesson is heightened by contrast. How different the tree overthrown, and torn up by the roots, and the "olive tree" standing beautiful and secure in "the house of God" 1 How markedly and utterly separate, the evil-doer judged and put to shame, and the godly man trusting, praising, waiting, rejoicing in the sunshine of God's love, and the hope of his mercy for ever and ever! - W.F

The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him.
The fear which it produces in the "righteous " is reverential awe, not dread lest the same should happen to them. Whether or not history and experience teach evil men that "verily there is a God that judgeth," their lessons are not wasted on devout and righteous souls. But this is the tragedy of life, that its teachings are prized most by those who have already learned them, and that those who need them most consider them least. Other tyrants are glad when a rival is swept off the field, but are not arrested in. their own course. It is left to "the righteous" to draw the lesson which all men should have learned. Although they are pictured as laughing at the ruin, that is not the main effect of it. Rather it deepens conviction, and is a "modern instance " witnessing to the continual truth of "an old saw." There is one safe stronghold, and only one. He who conceits himself to be strong in his own evil, and, instead of relying on God, trusts in material resources, will sooner or later be levelled with the ground, dragged, resisting vainly the tremendous grasp, from his tent, and laid prostrate, as melancholy a spectacle as a great tree blown down by tempest, with its roots turned up to the sky and its arms with drooping leaves trailing on the ground.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength. —

1. A conviction of our own weakness and danger, and the insufficiency of all created good for our safety and happiness.

2. A strong and lively persuasion of Divine all-sufficiency.

3. A pleasing persuasion of God's gracious willingness to protect and save all those who make Him the object of their trust and dependence.

4. An unreserved surrender of himself, and all that he possesses, into the hands of God. The word we render '" strength "sometimes signifies a fort or castle; and, in this view and connection, imports the soul's betaking itself to God in scenes of danger, and reposing its dependence upon Him for protection from invading evil (Psalm 61:2, 8; Isaiah 33:16; Proverbs 18:10).

II. VIEW THE MAN WHO MAKES NOT THE LORD HIS STRENGTH in some of the most interesting scenes and situations.

1. We will suppose him in the enjoyment of health and prosperity, and in possession of as much of this world as heart can wish. But whatever distinction these circumstances may make in his favour, he is neither secure nor happy. There are desires which earthly objects were never designed to satisfy, and there is a chasm in the soul which all created nature cannot fill. Past disappointments will suggest the possibility of future; and the sad change which hath passed on others, once as prosperous as himself, will awaken some painful suspicion that his mountain stands not so strong as never to be moved. He vainly attempts to flee from conscience: but it attends him like his shadow; or, shall I say, like a barbed arrow. He may change the place indeed — but the arrow and the wound remain. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

2. We will suppose him in scenes of temptation. His dignity and glory is lost: — the freedom in which he prides himself means nothing worthy of the man — in a country that boasts its liberty he is an abject slave, and in constant subjection to the worst of tyrants.

3. We will suppose him lying under the pressure of bodily affliction. The objects on which his trust and dependence were placed cannot prevent one painful sensation, or bring back to its proper state one single nerve. His body and soul are both afflicted: he hath a painful feeling that his dependence was improperly placed; and he is ashamed and afraid to ask of God that strength which he had refused to accept.

4. We will suppose him with death in immediate prospect. His strength is gone — his pulse beats feebly — a mortal paleness hangs upon his countenance. He would fain hope to live, but cannot: he sees death approaching, and trembles at the sight. What he hath most to dread is coming upon him like an armed man, and he hath no strength to resist. The very thing he wants — what alone could sustain him — he hath taken no pains to secure.

5. We will next suppose him in sight of the Judgment-day, and as standing before the bar of that God, whose favour and strength he never sought. Oh! how does he wish for rocks and mountains to fall upon him, to cover him from the face of the Judge, and from the wrath of the Lamb! And "lo! this is the man who made not God his strength."

6. Suppose this unhappy man, who made not God his strength, removed from the bar of Christ, and shut up in everlasting despair.


1. They act a very unwise and dangerous part, whose dependence is not on God.

2. There are those who are no objects of envy, notwithstanding their prosperous circumstances and the great abundance they possess.

3. An interest in the favour and friendship of God, through Christ, in whom is everlasting strength, should be the object of our warmest wish and daily pursuit.

(N. Hill.)

But trusted in the abundance of his riches

1. Because of the uncertainty of the tenure of riches.

2. Because of the limited power of riches. It can buy books, but not intellectual power; paintings, but not appreciative taste; service and sycophancy, but not esteem and affection, etc. It cannot buy pardon, peace, purity, etc. It cannot bribe death, etc.

3. Because of the utter inability of riches to satisfy their possessors. He who has much wealth would fain have more.

II. A COMMON MISTAKE. The great race of the age is for the acquisition of wealth. Manhood is sacrificed for money. "How mournfully ironical it is," said Mr. Lance, "and how sad it seems, that death, with all that is pathetic, and solemn, and tender, and sublime about it, should stand associated with that love of money that is the root of all evil! Died worth £50,000! Why, worth, as I .understand it, is worthiness, and as I read Heaven's own imperial dictionary, a man is worth only just so much as, and no more than, the good, the true, the imperishable, that stands connected with his name, whether living or dying. I hope that the time may come when it will not seem strange to say that Shakespeare died worth Hamlet, and that Milton died worth the Paradise Lost, and that Bunyan died worth the Pilgrim's Progress. But at present material wealth is the deity of thousands in Christian England.


(W. Jones.)

The prevalence of error is often to be traced to the latent love of truth, and in sinful excess may not seldom be discerned the aberration of a nature originally designed for good. For just as forged money could never gain currency if men set no value on the genuine coin, and as spurious wares impose on the undiscerning only because of the desire for those things of which they are the worthless imitation, so falsehood and sin would have no attraction but for the deceitful resemblance they bear to the truth and goodness from which we have wandered. Let us, then, provide the true satisfaction for man's deep and universal desires, and he will turn with distaste from that which only pretends to please.

I. MONEY IS LIKE, AND BY MANY IS OFTEN UNCONSCIOUSLY MISTAKEN FOR, GOD. Man is made for God, but there are certain superficial similarities between it and God which secretly persuade the heart that that divinity of which it is in search it will find in wealth. If we try to think how money is like God, may it not be said to possess a certain shadowy resemblance of His omnipotence; a strange mimicry of His omnipresence, His boundless beneficence, His providence, His power over the future, His capacity, not only to procure for us an endless variety of blessings, to give us all that our hearts can desire, but also to become in and for Himself, apart from all that He can give us, an object of independent delight; so that it is happiness to know and feel that He is ours? Now, money seems able to do and be all this, and nothing but the true love of God can drive it out of our minds.

II. BUT IT IS A PRETENCE AFTER ALL. For the soul cannot rest in the material and the outward; nor in the limited and perishable and that which abideth not. But all this is true of wealth, and therefore it can only be a false god at the best. God, and God alone, is sufficient for the happiness of the soul which, in His own image, He hath made.

(John Caird, D. D.)

An anonymous writer, generally supposed to be the Rev. Ward Beecher, after describing how, when a boy, he stole a cannon-ball from a navy-yard, and with much trepidation carried it away in his hat, winds up with the following reflections: "When I reached home I had nothing to do with my shot; I did not dare show it in the house, or tell where I got it; and after one or two solitary rolls I gave it away on the same day. But, after all, that six-pounder rolled a good deal of sense into my skull. It gave me a notion of the folly of coveting more than you can enjoy, which has made my whole life happier. But I see men doing the same thing as I did, gathering up wealth which will, when got, roll around their heads like a ball. I have seen young men enrich themselves by pleasure in the same way, sparing no pains and sacrificing any principle for the sake of at last carrying a burden which no man can bear. All the world is busy in striving for things that give little pleasure and bring much care."

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