Psalm 52 – Love Breaks Down

Bible opened to Psalm 52 with Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate

Today’s passage: Psalm 52

Today’s chocolate: Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71 % Cacao)

I’ve been thinking lately: does it all come down to love? Because if, as John says, God is love–if the supreme Creator of the universe worthy of all praise is in essence love–then it would probably be to my benefit to keep love in mind as I read these passages and write these posts. So I open up my Bible today, and Psalm 52 starts off with: “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long” (1). Kids, we are off to the races.

The lovingkindness of God is an all-day thing, 24/7. But according to this passage, the evil man rejects it. He lies, sows his schemes, and aims to destroy and devour with his words. So David writes: “But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent, and uproot you from the land of the living” (5). This is the God whose lovingkindness doesn’t stop, breaking down the evil man. And if that doesn’t intuitively square with your concept of love, that’s understandable. Let’s see how our picture of love might fit with a God who uproots an evil man from the land of the living.

The question seems to be: does God love the evil man, and does he express his love for him by “breaking him down forever?” Or does God love the man who trusts in him, and so protects him from evil by bringing the evil man to ruin? In the conclusion of the psalm, David says, “But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever” (8). This verse suggests that God’s lovingkindness is available 24/7 for those who trust in it; it doesn’t mean that they are exempt from suffering, but it means that God will protect them and (again, on a long enough time frame) eliminate the evil that threatens them.

Also, it’s not clear to me whether vv.5-7 indicate that God straight-up destroys the evil man, kills him outright. Is God simply bringing him low, humbling him, devastating all his ill-gotten wealth and scheming resource that he relied upon? The picture of lovingkindness in which God brings the evil man to trust in him is a very different picture of lovingkindness in which God protects the good man by utterly destroying the evil one.

Question of the Day: Is God’s breaking down of the evildoer here an expression of his love only for the one who trusts in him? Or does God also love the evildoer precisely by breaking him down?

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2 thoughts on “Psalm 52 – Love Breaks Down

  1. I don’t think there is an either/or answer.
    You wrote: “The picture of lovingkindness in which God brings the evil man to trust in him is a very different picture of lovingkindness in which God protects the good man by utterly destroying the evil one.” Maybe the two viewpoints aren’t contradictory but simply, or not so simply, parts of the same narrative.

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    1. Maybe so. I guess I couldn’t help reading this passage with questions of life after death in mind. What ultimately happens to the evil man? What does it mean that “God will break [him] down forever?” If God annihilates or vitiates or finally denies him agency for all eternity, does he do so in order to show his love for the evil man? And if so, then how exactly does that constitute love? I know these are some major cans of worms, but I think they’re worth opening.

      Thanks for your feedback, friend. :)

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