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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Psalms 53

Verse 1



Superscription: Title: The Folly and Wickedness of Men.

For the Chief Musician; set to Mahalath. Maschil of David.

The title in the ASV is "The Folly and Wickedness of Men," and in Halley's Handbook of the Bible we have the one selected here.

Set to Mahalath. "According to Dr. Kay, this is a musical term indicating that it is to be sung `Maestoso.'"[1] This is a musical instruction meaning, "`With Majesty,' `Majestically,' or `Stately.'"[2]

Maschil. This word means a "a meditative poem."[3]

The most important fact about this psalm is that it is almost in its entirety a duplication of Psalms 14, except for two things. (1) The word [~'Elohiym] (God) is substituted throughout in place of the word Jehovah (God) which is used in Psalms 14. (2) There is a slight change of meaning in Psalms 53:5, but for what purpose is not known. Rawlinson thought it might be for the "purpose of adapting the Psalm to some special occasion."[4]

Reference is here made to our Commentary on Psalms 14 where we have adequately discussed the text which we find here, with the exception of Psalms 53:5.

Verse 5

"There were they in great fear, where no fear was;

For God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee:

Thou hast put them to shame because God hath rejected them."

Nothing whatever is known about the event referred to here. The alternative use of the second person and the third person in references to God is not unusual in the Bible.

We repeat here one factor stressed in our treatment of Psalms 14, namely, that "The Universal Sinfulness of Mankind" is almost certainly a reference to the Judicial Hardening of the Adamic race for the fourth and final time at a period of history just prior to the Final Judgment. Paul, of course, applied what is written here to the Judicial Hardening of both Jews and Gentiles upon the occasion of the First Advent of Christ.

We find in such prophecies as Revelation 16 a prophecy of the ultimate and final hardening, to which these prophecies are equally applicable.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 53". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.