Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
Augustine introduces his comments on Psalm 52, after a brief observation of the subtitle, by describing the difference between those who look to things above and those who dwell on things below (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325652). Verse one then asks why mighty people “lory in malice” rather than in good (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325667). The steadfast attitude of the wicked is to do and teach injustice. Augustine observes that the most appropriate attitude toward these people is to pray for them (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325680). The deciding factor between those who are prepared for good or for evil must be our attitude toward sin. Augustine finds a causal relationshp of this idea and the statement in verse five which speaks to being rescued as from sinking. The rescue described is very significant to Augustine because of the urgency it calls for (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325734). Verse six continues the idea. We can be rescued or we will find God destrys us in the end. Augustine speaks then about our life in terms of our root and our fruit. “Out of sight is the root: fruits may be seen, root cannot be seen. Our root is our love, our fruits are our works: it is needful that thy works proceed from love, then is thy root in the land of the living” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325750). The root is to be planted in Jesus, who will bring forth good fruit.
Verse seven makes a mention of the just fearing and laughing. Augustine asks whether the two actions happen at the same time, then concludes that the fear is in this world but the laughter comes when we have been released from this life (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325757). We work out our lives in reverent fear. The laughter, in verse eight, is the mocking yet sorrowful laughter in which we recognize the futility of the one who has depended on himself. Augustine illustrates the need to trust in the Lord rather htan ourselves, using numerous narratives from Scripture (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325781).
Verse 10 moves to a conclusion. The Psalmist confesses God due to God’s works - exalting one and debasing another (Augustine Psalms, loc. 325811). Trusting in God, being repentant, results in receiving God’s blessing and approval. Our right desire is to obtain God’s mercy. God’s name, then, is pleasant to the saints, but not to the ungodly. This Psalm calls us to find God’s name as pleasant.