English Basic Explanation - Chapter 52
The introductory verses to this chapter inform us that David composed this Psalm in response to the incident where Do'eg, an officer under King Shaul, brought a report to the king concerning David's whereabouts. We read in the Book of Shemuel II (chapter 21) that when David confirmed that Shaul was attempting to kill him, he fled to Nov, a city of Kohanim, where he requested food and weapons from Ahimelech, the leader of the city. Do'eg later reported to Shaul that David had visited and been assisted by Ahimelech, and Shaul promptly summoned the Kohanim of Nov and accused them of treason. Tragically, Shaul ordered Do'eg to kill the entire city, including the men, women, children and cattle (Shemuel II 22:19).
David begins this Psalm by wondering how Do'eg could take pride in his cruelty and malice, and be so oblivious to the kindness God extends to the righteous (verse 3). After all, the Almighty visits harsh retribution upon the wicked while the intended victims survive and rejoice, and this is the fate that David predicts for Do'eg (verses 7-8).
In verse 9, David alludes to the answer to his original question as to how Do'eg could pride himself on acting with unfettered cruelty, noting that Do'eg relies not on God, but rather on his wealth. One of the dangers of wealth is the sense of security and invincibility it gives its owner. A person's dependence on his wealth obviates – in his eyes – the need to depend on God, and there is thus no need for him to act in accordance with God's laws and dictates. In his view, it is unnecessary to win the Almighty's favor through proper conduct, as he is already self-sufficiently capable of fulfilling all his needs and wishes.
David contrasts Do'eg's arrogance and self-reliance with his (David's) faith in God, which guarantees his safety and protection (verse 10). While the wicked will ultimately wilt and wither, the righteous, who place their trust in the Almighty, will be like a "fresh olive tree"; they will be saved from the schemes of their adversaries and will enjoy a long life of success, blessing and prosperity.