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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 14

Verse 1

A fool (Heb. nabal) is a person who has a problem in his or her heart more than in the head. He does not take God into account as he goes about living and is therefore morally insensitive (cf. 1 Samuel 25:25; Isaiah 32:4-7). He may or may not really be an atheist, and he is not necessarily ignorant, but he lives as though there is no God. This conclusion leads him to disregard the revelations God has given of Himself, attention to which are essential for wise living (cf. Proverbs 1:7; Romans 1:22). Instead, he gives himself over to corrupt living and deeds that are vile in the sight of God. Really, David observed, there is no one who does what is good in the sight of God on his own (unmoved and unaided by the Spirit of God). If we did not have the Apostle Paul’s exposition of the depravity of man in Romans 1-3, we might conclude that David’s statement was emotional hyperbole (cf. Romans 3:11-18).

Verses 1-3

1. David’s appraisal of humanity 14:1-3

Verses 1-7

Psalms 14

This reflective psalm and Psalms 53 are almost identical. The commentators take differing views concerning the genre since elements of individual lament, wisdom, prophetic, communal lament, and philosophical psalms are all present in this one. Merrill called it a psalm of exhortation. [Note: Merrill, "Psalms," p. 414.]

The failures of human beings that he experienced, and the knowledge that God will judge folly and corruption, led David to long for the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth. The psalmist’s perspective was very broad in this psalm. He spoke of the godly and the ungodly, and he noted their antagonism throughout history.

Verse 2

God does indeed look down on all people to assess our condition (cf. Genesis 6:5; Genesis 11:5; Genesis 18:21). The arrogant materialist of Psalms 14:1 is only one example of humanity in general.

Verse 3

All human beings have turned aside from the wise way of fearing the Lord (cf. Genesis 6:5-6; Genesis 11:1-9). The result is that they have become corrupt (Heb. alah, lit. sour, like milk) morally. Not one solitary individual does good in the sight of God on his own initiative and in his own strength (cf. Romans 3:23). It is for this reason that no one can be acceptable to God on the merit of his own works. All need the goodness (righteousness) that only God can provide for us.

Verse 4

David marveled at the ignorance of the wicked who disregard God and consequently have no regard for His people.

Verses 4-6

2. God’s punishment of the wicked 14:4-6

Verse 5

The wicked are in a dangerous position because God is in the midst of His people. When evildoers persecute the godly, they bring God’s punishment on themselves.

Verse 6

They may seek to frustrate the plans of those they afflict, but God will vindicate His own because they trust in Him. The figure of God as the refuge of His people occurs also in Psalms 46:1; Psalms 61:3; Psalms 62:7-8; Psalms 71:7; Psalms 73:28; and Psalms 91:2; Psalms 91:9.

Verse 7

3. David’s longing for God’s kingdom 14:7

In the context, the enemy of God’s people is all the ungodly of the world from the beginning of history. David longed for God to save His people from these wicked antagonists. Zion was the place where the ark of the covenant and the Lord resided. David spoke of God Himself delivering His people from all their godless enemies. When David wrote, the godly were captive to the wicked in the sense that the wicked were devouring them (Psalms 14:4). Nevertheless the psalmist was confident that the Lord would deliver Israel from the wicked. When He did, Israel would rejoice and be glad. Premillenarians believe this will take place when Jesus Christ returns to earth and sets up His righteous rule for 1,000 years (cf. Zephaniah 3:14-16; Matthew 6:10; Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 20:1-6). [Note: See Allen, Rediscovering Prophecy, pp. 129-49.]

The time is coming when God will put down all wickedness and judge all the ungodly. That revelation helps His people maintain hope as they continue to experience the antagonism and persecution of those who choose to disregard God.

"The intent of Psalms 14 is to counter the temptation that humankind can manage the world in ways better than Yahweh’s way (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9). The alternative of the haughty ones is to reorder life’s good for their own benefit at the expense of the vulnerable ones (cf. Ezekiel 34:20-24). The psalm asserts and guarantees that life will not be so easily reorganized. God’s will endures. God has made the world with some built-in protections for the weak against the strong, and that must not be mocked (cf. Isaiah 10:12-14)." [Note: Brueggemann, p. 45.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 14". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.