Chapter 52

1For the leader. A maskil of David,

אלַמְנַצֵּחַ מַשְׂכִּיל לְדָוִד׃

2when Doeg Ha'adomi came and informed Shaul, telling him, “David came to Achimelech's house.”

b'-VO do-AYG ha-a-do-MEE va-ya-GAYD l'-sha-UL va-YO-mer LO BA da-VID el BAYT a-khee-ME-lekh

בבְּבוֹא דּוֹאֵג הָאֲדֹמִי וַיַּגֵּד לְשָׁאוּל וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ בָּא דָוִד אֶל־בֵּית אֲחִימֶלֶךְ׃

52:2   Doeg Ha’adomi came and informed Shaul

What is the definition of derogatory speech, known in Hebrew as lashon hara (לשון הרע)? It is often assumed that this refers to a person who makes up terrible things about someone else. That, however, is a different transgression, called ‘slander.’ The term lashon hara refers to a situation where one person harms others, intentionally or unintentionally, through true statements. A case in point is the biblical story of Doeg the Edomite, chief herdsman of King Shaul (I Samuel 22). When asked by Shaul if he knew the whereabouts of David, he replied that David is in the city of Nov, together with the High Priest Achimelech. To Shaul, it sounded like David and Achimelech were conspiring to rebel, and thus Shaul gave a directive to destroy all the priests of the city of Nov. Doeg’s misspoken words caused great sorrow, as it says in verse 4, “Your tongue devises mischief, like a sharpened razor that works treacherously.” In this psalm, David addresses a great man who falls because he used the power of his tongue inappropriately.

3Why do you boast of your evil, brave fellow? Hashem's faithfulness never ceases.

גמַה־תִּתְהַלֵּל בְּרָעָה הַגִּבּוֹר חֶסֶד אֵל כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃

4Your tongue devises mischief, like a sharpened razor that works treacherously.

דהַוּוֹת תַּחְשֹׁב לְשׁוֹנֶךָ כְּתַעַר מְלֻטָּשׁ עֹשֵׂה רְמִיָּה׃

5You prefer evil to good, the lie, to speaking truthfully. Selah.

האָהַבְתָּ רָּע מִטּוֹב שֶׁקֶר מִדַּבֵּר צֶדֶק סֶלָה׃

6You love all pernicious words, treacherous speech.

ואָהַבְתָּ כָל־דִּבְרֵי־בָלַע לְשׁוֹן מִרְמָה׃

7So Hashem will tear you down for good, will break you and pluck you from your tent, and root you out of the land of the living. Selah.

זגַּם־אֵל יִתָּצְךָ לָנֶצַח יַחְתְּךָ וְיִסָּחֲךָ מֵאֹהֶל וְשֵׁרֶשְׁךָ מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים סֶלָה׃

8The righteous, seeing it, will be awestruck; they will jibe at him, saying,

חוְיִרְאוּ צַדִּיקִים וְיִירָאוּ וְעָלָיו יִשְׂחָקוּ׃

9“Here was a fellow who did not make Hashem his refuge, but trusted in his great wealth, relied upon his mischief.”

טהִנֵּה הַגֶּבֶר לֹא יָשִׂים אֱלֹהִים מָעוּזּוֹ וַיִּבְטַח בְּרֹב עָשְׁרוֹ יָעֹז בְּהַוָּתוֹ׃

10But I am like a thriving olive tree in Hashem's house; I trust in the faithfulness of Hashem forever and ever.

יוַאֲנִי כְּזַיִת רַעֲנָן בְּבֵית אֱלֹהִים בָּטַחְתִּי בְחֶסֶד־אֱלֹהִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד׃

11I praise You forever, for You have acted; I declare that Your name is good in the presence of Your faithful ones.

יאאוֹדְךָ לְעוֹלָם כִּי עָשִׂיתָ וַאֲקַוֶּה שִׁמְךָ כִי־טוֹב נֶגֶד חֲסִידֶיךָ׃