Psalm 52: He Who Laughs Last

Read Psalm 52:1-9

He Who Laughs Last

The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him, saying,
“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others.”
(Psalm 52:6-7)

Christians aren’t supposed to laugh, right? Isn’t it always poor form to laugh at the misfortunes of others—even those who invite calamity upon themselves by their own foolish actions and mean deeds? Isn’t it true that we’re not even supposed to wish “bad things” upon our worst enemies—those who torment us for our faith, belittle our Christianity, and despise our God? After all, the Founder and Finisher of our faith has commanded us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us and pray for those who spitefully use us—even those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44)

True—for the most part! But there is also a deep, God-implanted sense in the core of our being which sees injustice inflicted in the world—both the world at large as well as the smaller world of our private lives—and cries out for the day when an all-knowing and all-powerful God will set aright every wrong. Of course, we rejoice when evildoers see the error of their ways, bow their knees in repentance and make right the wrongs they have committed, but when they don’t, our innate sense of fairness yearns for the innate righteousness at the core of God’s character to hold the wicked accountable for their wickedness.

And that day will come. Sooner or later, it will come. It may be swift and sure, or it may take a lifetime—or it may have to wait until justice is meted out at the Great White Throne judgment—but that day will surely come. And rightly so!

When David wrote this psalm, he had just come through betrayal at the hands of Doeg the Edomite. David was on the run from King Saul, literally just a step ahead of certain death, and he sought respite and refreshment with the priests of the Lord in the city of Nob. (I Samuel 21-22) But Doeg spied David there and ratted him out to Saul. Saul promptly marched on Nob, and using Doeg as his executioner, killed all eighty-five of the Lord’s priests along with the entire village when he couldn’t find David. It was that tragic story that provided the context for this hard-edged psalm of David as he fantasizes about Doeg getting his Divine comeuppance.

Dirty rotten Doeg owned that moment, but it was David who got the last laugh. It didn’t come immediately—don’t we wish for that—but at the end of the day, it is David who belongs to the ages as the man after God’s heart, while Doeg lives in infamy, his name enshrined in ignominy as Saul’s horrible henchman, ratfink, snitch, and murderer of the Lord’s priests!

And so it mostly goes in God’s economy for believers in every age. We may face trials of many kinds, persecution for our faith, humiliation, injustice and even death, but we get the last laugh, for that day will come as sure as the dawn when God’s justice will be satisfied. While you may grieve at the slowness of that day, don’t fret, for one day you will stand in awestruck reverence as Divine justice and righteousness are vindicated—and on that day, in a way that is wholly appropriate, you will laugh!

“Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults
are wicked and prefer mercy.”
—G.K. Chesterton

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