Sometimes, a “minor” Bible character appears on the stage of inspiration and is immortalized for either good or bad. Doeg definitely falls into the latter category. We see him in 1 Samuel 21-22. He is identified as an Edomite (one of Esau’s descendents), “the chief of Saul’s shepherds” (1 Sam. 21:7). We see him by Saul’s servants (22:9), and by his hand 85 of Israel’s priests, who had sheltered David from Saul’s jealous wrath, are slaughtered (22:18). Apparently, Doeg already had a bad reputation. When David hears this devastating news, he laments, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul” (22:22).
He was so spiritually wretched that the Holy Spirit through David makes him the subject of infamy in Psalm 52. It is of Doeg that David speaks when he says, “Your tongue devises destruction…you love evil more than good…you love all devouring words” (2-4). Then, David predicts an awful demise for Doeg (5-7). He trusted the wrong things and did the wrong things. What ignominy!
Doeg illustrates a few things for us. First, character matters. Doeg’s character was deplorable. He had no respect for God’s priests. He was willing to sell out others for his own profit. He had no value for life and specifically the righteous. Second, there may be temporary reward in behaving badly. This is implied by David’s words in Psalm 52 about “abundant riches” (7). Perhaps he was “court pet” of the day. We can see today that sinners may enjoy wealth and fame…in this life. Finally, wickedness will not ultimately prosper. Solomon’s words apply to Doeg and all those of his ilk. “It will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God” (Ecc. 8:13).
We can learn great lessons from “positive characters,” but we can learn from those others, too. Old Testament characters instruct us and give us hope (Rom. 15:4), and that includes “negative characters” (1 Cor. 10:11). Let us learn from Doeg and build better character than that.