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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 53

Verse 1

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.

The alterations made in this revised version by David of Psalms 14:1-7 are to substitute rare, elevated, and forcible forms for commoner terms. The title "Upon Mahalath" is an enigmatical description of the subject: 'Upon sickness.' Compare title, Psalms 88:1-18, where it is connected with "Leannoth," concerning the tribulation. The sickness here in Psalms 53:1-6 is man's spiritual malady.

Maschil. The 'instruction' aimed at is to bring reckless man (Psalms 53:2) to spiritual understanding. In Psalms 14:1-7 'Elohiym (H430) is thrice used, Yahweh (H3068) four times; in Psalms 53:1-6 'Elohiym is used throughout, marking the more clearly the seven-fold introduction of "God." In Psalms 53:1, "abominable iniquity," the stronger, term ('avel), is substituted for 'abominable works.' In Psalms 53:3, "Every one of them is gone back" [ kulow (H3605) caag (H5472) - literally, all of it is gone back] stands instead of "They are all gone aside" ( hakol (H3605) sar (H8269)). In Psalms 53:5 there is added to "There were they in great fear" (Psalms 14:5), in order to heighten the force, "where no fear was;" where, humanly speaking, nothing was to be feared as likely to disturb their carnal security: as Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1-31; Job 15:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:3). And instead of "for God is in the generation of the righteous," - "for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee:" of thy besieger ( chonak (H2583)): an emphatic and poetical picture of the utter destruction of the foes of God's people, the consequence of God's being "in the generation of the righteous." God raises the siege which sinners continually lay to saints, by shattering the besiegers, and scattering their bones, once the seat of their strength, on the battlefield. For "ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because Yahweh is his refuge," there, is here, 'thou hast shamed (them), because God hath despised them:' the positive rejection of the wicked is substituted for the less strong thought, the "refuge" which the afflicted "righteous" have in "Yahweh."

This psalm is an instructive warning ( Maskiyl (H4905)) to the wicked, as Psalms 14:1-7 is for the comfort of the righteous when cast down by the prevalence of surrounding corruption. Compare Genesis 6:5; Genesis 6:14, "All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth;" the same Hebrew root as in Psalms 53:1, "corrupt" ( hishchiytuw (H7843)). Compare Paul's quotation of this psalm, Romans 3:9-12, to show that all are "under sin." In Psalms 53:6 'the salvations' ( yªshu`owt (H3444), plural) is emphatically substituted for "salvation" ( yªshu`at (H3444), singular), (Psalms 14:1-7.) Psalms 53:1-6 is an appropriate sequel to Psalms 52:1-9, which anticipates in faith the downfall of the boastful enemy. Under his overwhelming oppression, and the universal corruption, God again, as in Noah's days, "looks down from heaven" on the consummated iniquity, preparatory to judgment. Compare as to the man of sin, the wicked one, under whom iniquity, heretofore in "mystery," shall "be revealed" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). As he shall have "scattered the bones" of the literal and the spiritual Israel (Ezekiel 37:1-28; Psalms 141:7) "at the grave's mouth," so shall the bones of his hosts be, in righteous retribution, "scattered" (Ezekiel 39:10-21). The closing verse (Psalms 53:6), plainly points to the restoration of Israel, nationally and spiritually, when "the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from ungodliness in Jacob" (Isaiah 59:20). The highest fulfillment will be when Redemption shall be finally consummated in the Church triumphant taking the place of the Church militant.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 53". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.