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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Psalms 53

Verses 1-6

Psalms 53:0

Introduction - Psalms 53:0 is almost identical to Psalms 14:0, only differing in Psalms 53:5. Psalms 14:0 is in book 1 (Psalms 1-41) and Psalms 53:0 is in book 2 (Psalms 42-72). A second difference is that Psalms 14:0 used the word YHWH ( יְהוָֹה ) (H3068) of special revelation, while Psalms 53:0 uses the general name for God ( אֳלהִׁים ) (H430). This similarity of psalms from books one and two implies that the Psalms may have initially consisted of several separate, smaller books, with some of the Psalms being the same, and these books were later compiled into the entire book of Psalms as we know it today, perhaps during the time of Ezra the scribe.

We see this duplication also in Psalms 18:0 and 2 Samuel 22:0. This type of duplication is also found in the book of Proverbs, with individual proverbs from Solomon’s first collection and second collection being the same, implying that it had a similar composition.

Psalms 53:1-3 Comments - Romans 3:10-12 quotes these verses as meaning that everyone has sinned.

Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

Psalms 53:1 (To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.) The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

Psalms 53:1 Word Study on “Maschil” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “Maschil” ( מַשְׂכִּיל ) (H4905) is a participle meaning, “a didactic poem.” Strong it means, “instructive,” thus “a didactic poem,” being derived from ( שָׂכַל ) (H7919), which literally means, “to be circumspect, and hence intelligent.” The Enhanced Strong says it is found 13 times in the Old Testament being translated in the KJV all 13 times as “Maschil.” It is used as a title for thirteen of the 150 psalms (Psalms 32:0; Psalms 42, 44, 45, 52 through 55; 74; 78; 88; 89; 142).

Most modern translations do as the KJV and transliterate this Hebrew word as “maschil,” thus avoiding the possibility of a mistranslation. The LXX reads “for instruction.” YLT reads “An Instruction.” Although some of these psalms are didactic in nature, scholars do not feel that all fit this category. The ISBE says, “Briggs suggests ‘a meditation,’ Thirtle and others ‘a psalm of instruction,’ Kirkpatrick ‘a cunning psalm.’” [73]

[73] John Richard Sampey, “Psalms,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Psalms 53:1 “Corrupt are they” Comments - The Hebrew word( שָׁחַת ) (H7843), translated “corrupt,” is the same Hebrew word that is used to described mankind before the flood (Genesis 6:11-12), and the fool (Psalms 14:1).

Genesis 6:11-12, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”

Psalms 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt , they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 53". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/psalms-53.html. 2013.