1 For the director of music. According to mahalath. A maskil of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no-one who does good.
2 God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one.
4 Will the evildoers never learn—those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on God? 5 There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. God scattered the bones of those who attacked you; you put them to shame, for God despised them.
6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Psalm 53 – God underlines a sad truth
Psalm 53 and Psalm 14 are similar, but not identical. They vary probably because they were written for different audiences. Under the Holy Spirit’s influence, a writer can always use similar, or even identical, words at different times. Here, those common words underline the sad key truth that ‘The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’
The Bible never contradicts itself. Any variation is always intended and is never about its truthfulness, but always about its application. Verses 5-6 have the only variations, that are more than ‘noise level’. They are commented on in this paper. Psalm 53 confirms the main message of Psalm 14.
Psalm 53 – God underlines a sad truth
(Verse 1) The man who says ‘There is no God’ implies he has seen, considered and weighed up all the available evidence from all time and all places, and is clever enough to reach an absolute conclusion, namely, ‘There is no God.’ The world calls him an ‘atheist’: God calls him a ‘fool’. A person who says, ‘I do not know’, is an ‘agnostic’. But God says that anyone who dogmatically denies His existence is a fool as well as an atheist.
Some reasons are given why he is foolish. Verse 1 opens with: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’’’ The atheist does not use his head to weigh all the evidence properly: rather, he carries his prejudice in his heart against God. Thus, his conclusion is not based on fact or reason. It comes from biased feelings. Every thought he now holds about God is therefore prejudiced. His intellectual position is dishonest. Why? If he believed a holy God watched him all the time, he knows he would have to repent of his ‘corrupt’ and ‘vile’ deeds and ask God to forgive him. The first of God’s Ten Commandments tells us that no-one and no thing must be put before God. An atheist makes a ‘god’ of his sinful rejection of God. He worships that ‘god’ and so cannot do ‘good’ in God’s eyes until he turns from that sin, and all the others, to ask humbly for God to pardon and restore him. God does that for any person who turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, thankful that He bore the wrath of the Father against that person’s sins when Jesus died in his place on Calvary’s cross.
(Verses 2-3) The LORD sees that man cannot, without His help and the work of His Holy Spirit within, begin to understand about God, seek God, or keep His good and holy standards. Each of us have wayward, corrupt, and sinful hearts.
Verses 4-5 explain why sinners remain ignorant of God until they repent and trust in Jesus. They oppose God’s people, and proudly refuse to ‘call on the LORD’. Dread will finally overwhelm all sinners who fail to repent. Eternal punishment awaits them. But there is ’nothing to dread’ if you trust your Saviour God! Psalm 14 says why: ‘God is present in the company of the righteous.’ Even in Old Testament physical battles, God acted to shame those attacking His people. Again, Psalm 14 adds why: ‘the LORD is their refuge.’ God’s grace and mercy make them secure.
(Verse 6) David prays for God’s ‘salvation for Israel’. Religious people need to be saved just as much as irreligious people. David awaits gladness and rejoicing when God restores Israel to Himself – even their atheists! He still restores and blesses today anyone who trusts in Jesus – even atheists!