Summary: Doeg the Edomite is guilty of telling half-truths and committing a great atrocity at Nob. Psalm 52 is David’s response to this evil man’s sinful actions.
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Every Doeg Has His Day
The context of this event is that David has just been warned by his friend, Jonathan, that Saul intends to kill him. In fact, Saul even became angry at Jonathan because of his intercession on behalf of David and attempted to spear his own son.
The first problem we encounter with this text is that David tells the priest a lie. He tells the priest that he is on a secret mission on behalf of King Saul. I am troubled by this untruthful declaration.
There are two reasons that I believe David was deceitful. I don’t believe that they absolve him of wrongdoing, but I do believe that they give us incite to the fact that David’s faith wasn’t always what it needed to be. David spent YEARS waiting for God to grant him the throne he had been anointed for. During those years, he had those moments of doubt that God was really going to do what God had said.
The first reason I believe he was dishonest was because he was in fear for his own life. In chapter nineteen, David climbed out the window of his own home in order to escape being murdered by King Saul. He is on the run and Saul is in pursuit. In fact, Saul pursued him in chapter nineteen until the Holy Spirit came over him and convicted him of David’s innocence. By chapter 20, all spirituality is gone as Saul is once again determined to have David’s head. Fear is not a valid reason for dishonesty, but from a human perspective we can understand it.
The second reason may be found in I Samuel 22:22. David declares to Ahimilech’s surviving son that he knew that Doeg, the Edomite, an employee of King Saul, would tell the king that David had sought support from the priest. The author takes the time in verse 7 to mention the presence of Doeg. Perhaps David’s purpose was to protect Ahimilech and his family from reprisals from King Saul.
So what was Doeg doing at Nob in the sanctuary? We can only assume that he was there to worship.
In chapter 22, Saul confronts the men of Benjamin and accuses them of conspiring against him. Doeg responds by taking the heat off of the men of Benjamin and putting it onto the priest, Ahimilech. However, his report is woefully incomplete. (I Samuel 22:9-10) Doeg gets his information correct—he declares that Ahimilech had done three things for David. First, he provided spiritual counsel. Second, the priest gave David provisions (the sacred bread in fact). Third, the priest gave David a weapon. All of this was most certainly aiding and abetting this fugitive from the king’s so-called justice.
However, Doeg leaves out one vastly important detail. Do you see what it is? Look back at 21:2 and I think you will se it. Doeg doesn’t bother to mention that the priest was told that David was on a mission for the king. Doeg doesn’t think this detail is important. Doeg not only is willing to kindle the king’s anger against the priests, but when Saul’s men refuse to execute the priests for fear of the Lord, Doeg kills not only the priests, but every man, woman, child, baby and animal in the town of Nob. It is a massacre.
In Psalm 52, David responds to Doeg’s behavior and character in a mocking and satirical manner.
Verse 1: David uses sarcasm when he calls Doeg a mighty man! The Hebrew word that is translated as “mighty man” is often translated as Warrior, champion, hero, or even giant. Doeg is anything but a mighty man. He is a cowardly baby and animal murderer. The Hebrew translation of the remaining part of the verse is a bit difficult because it contrasts God’s goodness, or the person who is chosen by God with Doeg. In keeping with the sense of sarcasm that David is speaking in it has the idea of this person being a disgrace in the face of God’s goodness.
Perhaps David is speaking of Doeg’s hypocrisy! He went to the sanctuary to worship but his worship didn’t bring him closer to God. Now Doeg has pretended to be a righteous man by standing up and telling the king of a treasonous act. David mocks his behavior. Doeg is a disgrace as a warrior as well as a disgrace in spiritual terms. His dishonesty stands out as a prime example of a hypocrite.
Verse 2: The imagery of his tongue as a sharp razor indicates the damage that it could do. David was declaring that Doeg had let his tongue out of control and it was busy bringing destruction.