“Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day.” – Psalm 52:1
The world is filled to the overflow with “mighty” men and women, those who claim to have a righteousness of their own, some quality or litany of efforts they believe commends them to God. Granted many may not couch their assumed superiority in religious terms. They simply labor under the tragic notion that their efforts and qualities differentiate them from the utter wretches or “real sinners” with which they are forced to live. One way or another, however, the mighty men and women simply know they are of a better sort than the average man on the street.
The Psalmist is quick to cut this notion off at the root. Strength, life itself, is not found in the so-called mighty men of the world. Nothing could be more wrong! True strength, life eternal, flows from the goodness of God. “The goodness of God,” the Psalmist writes, “endures all the day.” The mighty man unwittingly makes his silly boast in that which is weak, frail, temporal, vanishing, and ultimately, evil. He mocks God by his sinful efforts to attain righteousness apart from God’s grace in Christ. But those who “trust in the mercy of God” will “forever and ever” remain in the “house of God” (v.8). The contrast between boasting sinner and praising saint could not be more stark.
In the end, the mighty are made weak, and the weak are made strong (Joel 3:10) all by and through the hand of Almighty God. And true strength, the strength of Christ which is the heritage of God’s people by faith, shines through the dark as all glory and praise is properly attributed to God alone in the finished work of His Son. When asked where true strength comes from, it is the child of God who cries aloud, “God has done it!” It is he who shouts the Psalmist’s words, “wait on God’s name, for it is good.”
As for the weakling evildoer, his carnal talents and abilities will one day fail, his treasury drain, his health fade, his friends all forsake him. It will be those made righteous by God who will laugh at him! What a turn of fortune! The world’s mighty men will soon find themselves the bearers of righteous scorn and mockery as God’s people, yes God’s people, shame them for their works of rebellion and evil, having trusted in their wealth and in the mistreatment of others (v. 4). The end of the mighty men, those who by human strength earn nothing but the awful wages of sin, will be everlasting ruin at the hands of Almighty God (v. 5).
The Lord’s people, the weakling outcasts of this world, will surely rule and reign with Him one day. They will “trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever,” boasting not in evil works but in God through Christ (Romans 5:11).