The Word Made Fresh
(For the worship leader: to the tune of Mahalath. A song of David.)
1Only a fool would say, “There is no God.”
Such people are corrupt, and they do terrible things.
None of them do anything that is good.
2God looks down from heaven,
searching to see if any of them are wise and seek after God.
3But they have all fallen away and are corrupt.
Not a single one of them does any good thing.
4Don’t they understand, these wicked ones
who chew up my people like bread,
and never give God a thought?
5Before God they are terrified
with fear such as they have never felt before.
God will reject them, and their bones will be scattered.
They shall be ashamed
because they have been rejected.
6Let Israel’s deliverance come out of Zion.
For when God restores the fortunes of God’s people
Jacob will rejoice, and Israel will be glad.
Superscription: the 40th of the psalms attributed to David, and the 6th “maskil” (see note Psalm 32). “Mahalath,” which occurs here and at Psalm 88, is likely a musical tune, but we note that it is also the name of one of David’s granddaughters (2 Chronicles 11:18).
Psalm 53 is very similar to Psalm 14. This second “Book” of psalms (Psalms 42-72) is noted for using the word Elohim almost exclusively when referring to God. If you compare the two you will find that every reference to “the LORD” in Psalm 14 is replaced with “God” in Psalm 53.
1-4: Evildoers are atheists. If you believe in God, you are less likely to engage in wickedness for fear of God’s wrath. The psalmist declares that all evildoers are unbelievers. Would it also be the case that all unbelievers are evildoers? The psalmist would probably agree to that as well, although altruism is a generally accepted virtue in our culture whether connected with religious beliefs or not. In verse 3, where the psalmist declares, “not a single one of them does any good thing,” he is referring to the class of unbelievers, not to the entire human race.
5: Judgment is passed on the wicked.
6: Suddenly the psalm becomes a plea for national deliverance. The godlessness addressed in the first 5 verses is therefore meant as a description of the enemies of Israel, and not necessarily of individual sinners.
Faith is a path that leads us in the right direction, provides a standard against which we monitor our actions, and carries us steadily toward the goal of eternal salvation. Have faith!