Here I continue my translation of Psalms 42-72, with a brief commentary
For the choir leader. A psalm for David, when Doeg the Edomite came to Saul saying that David had gone to Abimelech’s house.
Why are you boasting, big man,
Of wrong done against decent people?
Your tongue is ready to cut
like a keen razor, you doer of deceit.
You favour evil more than good
falsehood more than straight talking:
yes, you lying tongue,
you love each harmful word!
But God will shake you to pieces:
he will seize you and pluck you from your place
and uproot you from the land of the living.
Then good people will see it with respect
and mock you, saying,
”Look, here is the hero
who refused to make God his refuge
but put trust in his profits
and the power of his greed!”
But I am like a green olive tree in God’s house
trusting God’s faithful love forever and ever.
I will always praise you, for you have done it;
and I will put my hope in your name for it is good,
in the midst of your faithful people.
This is a psalm to the God of small people, who notes the arrogance of the ruthless rich people, who think they know what is reliable in worldly affairs. The arrogance manifests itself especially in malicious speech which damages others. The man himself bcomes a lying tongue, enjoying its destructive power.
This is doubtless a good psalm for the day after President Trump’s visit to the UK, as he has become simply a tongue saying brutal and destructive words which are amplified by social media and compliant journalism to cause harm throughout the world. The psalm could have been written with Trump in mind.
But of course it was in fact written with others in mind, showing that nothing, not even the man known in Scotland as the “Ginger Jobbie” (turd), is new under the sun. The psalmist is sure however that God is not mocked, for he/she has made a world which is not a reliable place for riches. Jesus reminded his listeners of the moth that eats the expensive clothes and the thief who steals the silver and gold. Trusting in wordly wealth to the exclusion of God’s wisdom brings spectacular downfalls accompanied by the mockery of the poor, who thus get some revenge for the malicious utterances of the rich.
The poor but faithful person is the ideal portrayed in the psalm. We should of course note that often the boastful wealthy people appear to get off scot-free, which does tend to invalidate the psalmist’s theology. The image of the person who trusts in God remains attractive for all that, describing one who remains fruitful because he/she is rooted in God, the giver of life.