DIVISION OF PSALM 52
David penned this psalm wherein:
I. He arraigns Doeg for what he had done (v. 1).
II. He accuses him, convicts him, and aggravates his crimes (v. 2-4).
III. He passes sentence upon him (v. 5).
IV. He foretells the triumphs of the righteous in the execution of the sentence (v. 6, 7).
V. He comforts himself in the mercy of God and the assurance he had that he should yet praise him (v. 8, 9).2
The occasion of this psalm is here related, the history of which is in
1 Samuel 21:7.
The sum of it is this; David having fled from Saul, came to Ahimelech the priest at Nob, and desired bread and a sword of him, which were given him, Doeg the Edomite being present at the same time.
This man observed what was done for David by the priest; and when Saul complained to his captains that they all conspired against him, and no man was sorry for him, or showed him the intrigue between David and his son; Doeg stood up and related what, and more than what he had heard and seen pass between David and Ahimelech; upon which Saul sent for the priest, and all his father's house with him, and charged him with treasonable practices; and though he solemnly protested his innocency, Saul would not believe him, but ordered his footmen to fall upon him, and upon all the priests with him; but they refusing, he commanded Doeg to do it, who accordingly did, and slew eighty five priests, and destroyed all in the city of Nob, men, women, children, and sucklings, oxen, asses, and sheep; only Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, escaped, who fled to David, and reported the whole affair; upon which he penned this psalm.3
Ahimelech the son of Ahitub and father of Abiathar (1 Sam. 22:20-23) descended from Eli in the line of Ithamar.
In 1 Chr. 18:16 his name is Abimelech according to the Masoretic Text, and is probably the same as Ahiah (1 Sam. 14:3, 18).
He was the twelfth high priest, and officiated at Nob., where he was visited by David (to whom and his companions he gave five loaves of the showbread) when he fled from Saul (1 Sam. 21:1-9).
He was summoned into Saul's presence, and accused, on the information of Doeg the Edomite, of disloyalty because of his kindness to David; whereupon the king commanded that he, with the other priests who stood beside him (86 in all), should be put to death.
This sentence was carried into execution by Doeg in the most cruel manner (1 Sam. 22:9-23).3
A transliteration of the Heb. maskil, derived from the root sakal, "to be prudent". Its presence in the superscriptions of 13 psalms (32,
142) seems to indicate that these psalms are instructional or didactic poems. Maskil is translated "with understanding" in
Since, however, the idea of instruction, rigorously applied, does not suit all of these psalms, maskil may indicate a kind of musical performance.4