Psalms – Chapter 52

Whatever Happened to Doeg?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This Psalm, called a maskil, is an instructional Psalm about gossip and slander. It was composed following the incident in which Doeg informed on David to Saul, leading to the deaths of the Kohanim (priests) in the city of Nov (see I Samuel 22). David asks why Doeg, a renowned scholar and military hero, had to stoop to such despicable behavior. That’s what he’ll be remembered for! But even so, Doeg couldn’t harm David because G-d’s kindness is more powerful than Doeg’s treachery.

David compares Doeg’s deceitful tongue to a razor. He says that Doeg has chosen to love falsehood more than truth, so G-d will tear down Doeg’s legacy. According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 106b), even the Torah Doeg taught was not disseminated in his name. When the righteous see the way G-d avenges the deaths of the Kohanim on Doeg, they will be “scared straight” and taunt Doeg, rather than emulate him. They will use him as an example of a person who turned his back on G-d, but relied on his own might (such as it was). David, on the other hand, strives to perpetually draw his strength from G-d. He relies on G-d’s kindness and thanks Him constantly. Unlike Doeg, David inspires others to put their faith in G-d.

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