I have often heard that comparing ourselves with others is not a good habit to get into. It can often be detrimental to both yourself and the other person. It can lead to pride (if you think that you are doing ‘better’ than them). Or it can lead to despair (if they appear to be doing ‘better’ than you). Accepting our differences is useful, not just the latest philosophy of our age.
But are there times when it is valuable to compare? Maybe, but instead of actually comparing, it is more useful to evaluate and consider others, with the aim of learning from their positive qualities and lifestyle choices or, on the other hand, to avoid their negative qualities and lifestyle choices.
In a sense (among other things) this is what happens in Psalm 52. Consider the ‘comparisons’ – the negatives in UPPERCASE and the positives in bold font.
For the director of music. A maskilof David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”
1 Why do you BOAST OF
EVIL, you mighty hero?
Why do you BOAST ALL DAY LONG,
you who are A DISGRACE IN THE EYES OF GOD?
2 You who PRACTICE DECEIT,
YOUR TONGUE PLOTS DESTRUCTION;
it is like a sharpened razor.
3 YOU LOVE EVIL RATHER THAN GOOD,
FALSEHOOD RATHER THAN SPEAKING THE TRUTH.
4 YOU LOVE EVERY HARMFUL WORD,
you deceitful tongue!
God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
6 The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying,
7 “Here now is THE MAN
WHO DID NOT MAKE GOD HIS STRONGHOLD
BUT TRUSTED IN HIS GREAT WEALTH
AND GREW STRONG BY DESTROYING OTHERS!”
8 But I am like an
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.
Let’s consider the life of this person the psalmist calls “you mighty hero”. One gets the impression that some may call him a “hero” but here the psalmist is using the term sarcastically. Basically, he is not the kind of person you would appreciate your kids hanging out with. Longman calls him “morally corrupted, he loves evil and evil speech and hates good and true speech.” (# 30) He is a troublemaker (and if the reference in the introduction is relevant, then Doeg the Edomite fits the description – see 1 Samuel 21:1-9, 22:8-23).
The word “boast” used twice in verse 1 suggests this man’s self-satisfaction in his evil activities. “He thinks himself clever, he is absorbed in his intrigues, he has given himself to evil…the repeated words you love…you love implies choice as well as attraction.” (# 29)
In summary, he is what most of would never want to be, and that is A DISGRACE IN THE EYES OF GOD? This due to this person’s character, his pride, his love of all things evil and his hatred of all things good, including God and his people.
Sadly, mankind’s history has many stories of such people who have fitted this description and we have suffered great harm as a result of their deceit, falsehood and destructive ways. Such persons still exist in our day involved in evil activities such as abuse of women and children in sex-slavery, the buying and selling of destructive illicit drugs, ruling their people in despotic ways, or even being involved in corporate greed causing the “rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer”.
Verse 5-7 then describes their eventual punishment and downfall. The evil person may doubt and even mock this truth but, as the psalmist says Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin (verse 5). Wilcock adds, “If God’s love for his people is everlasting [and there is no doubt it is], so too is the ruin he will bring upon those who despise and ignore him.” (# 5)
None of us desire any person to have to face the wrath of God in final judgement, and less so does God himself, and that is why He sent Jesus. But, in the end the choice is ours!
Thank you, Father, for the truth of John’s words:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3: 16-18)