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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 14

Psalms 14:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Folly and Wickedness of Men Folly of the Godless and God's Final Triumph Condemnation of a Cynical and Unrighteous Age (cf. Psalms 53:0) Human Wickedness (cf. Psalms 53:0) The Fate of the Godless
MT Intro “For the choir director. A Psalm of David”
Psalms 14:1-3 Psalms 14:1 Psalms 14:1 Psalms 14:1 Psalms 14:1
Psalms 14:2-3 Psalms 14:2 Psalms 14:2-3 Psalms 14:2
Psalms 14:3 Psalms 14:3
Psalms 14:4-6 Psalms 14:4-6 Psalms 14:4-6 Psalms 14:4 Psalms 14:4
Psalms 14:5-6 Psalms 14:5-6
Psalms 14:7 Psalms 14:7 Psalms 14:7 Psalms 14:7 Psalms 14:7

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 14:1-3 1The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. 2The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. 3They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.

Psalms 14:1 “fool” This psalm is almost exactly like Psalms 53:0. This word (BDB 614 I) refers to people who should know YHWH but choose to live as if He does not affect their lives. There were no atheists in the philosophical sense in the ANE, but many of the covenant people were practical atheists (cf. Deuteronomy 32:6, Deuteronomy 32:21; 2 Samuel 13:13; Psalms 10:4, Psalms 10:11, Psalms 10:13; Psalms 53:1; Psalms 74:22; Ezekiel 13:3). The proverb of Luke 12:48 surely applies to these people. See Special Topic: Foolish People.

Notice how “the fool” is characterized.

1. they are corrupt BDB 1007, KB 1469, Hiphil perfect (i.e., a settled condition)

2. they have committed abominable deeds BDB 1073, KB 1765, Hiphil perfect (i.e., a settled condition)

“abominable deeds” See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ABOMINATION (OT)

“There is no one who does good” This is a general statement on the spiritual condition of fallen mankind, even the covenant people. It is elaborated on in Psalms 14:2-3. Notice how fallen humanity is characterized.

1. no one does good, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 14:3 (inclusive)

2. no one understands

3. no one seeks after God

4. all have turned aside (see note at Psalms 14:3)

5. all have become corrupt

One clearly sees the influence of Genesis 3:0 on all humanity. Paul put together a powerful litany of verses on human rebellion in Romans 3:9-18, Romans 3:23. He quotes Psalms 14:1-3; Psalms 53:1-4; Psalms 5:9; Psalms 140:3; Psalms 10:7; Isaiah 59:7-8; Psalms 36:1. This truth is the first truth of the gospel (Romans 1:18-18). The gospel is “good news” in light of the bad news!

Psalms 14:2 “The Lord has looked down from heaven” YHWH was envisioned to dwell in heaven (see Special Topic: Heaven), from which He sees and knows all that occurs on earth (acts, motives, intents, cf. Psalms 33:13, Psalms 33:14; Psalms 102:19; Job 28:24). YHWH, so different from the idols, sees, knows, and acts!

Psalms 14:3 “they have turned aside” YHWH's covenant was a clearly-marked path/road/way. His people were to stay on this straight (i.e., righteous) and narrow road, but they did not (cf. Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 9:12; Deuteronomy 11:16; Deuteronomy 17:11, Deuteronomy 17:17; Judges 2:17; 1 Samuel 12:20; 2 Kings 22:2; Jeremiah 5:23; Jeremiah 17:13; Jeremiah 32:40). The turning away was not an act of ignorance but purposeful rebellion!

Verses 4-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 14:4-6 4Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the Lord? 5There they are in great dread, For God is with the righteous generation. 6You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, But the Lord is his refuge.

Psalms 14:4-6 This strophe heightens the results of “not knowing” (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal perfect, see Special Topic: Know). The actions of the wicked against the poor, needy, and those with no social voice or power will be judged by God, their protector (cf. Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 24:17, Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Deuteronomy 26:12, Deuteronomy 26:13; Deuteronomy 27:19)!

He is their “refuge” (BDB 340, cf. Psalms 2:12; Psalms 5:11; Psalms 34:22). To attack them is to attack Him. He will defend them.

Psalms 14:4

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, LXX“do not call upon the Lord” TEV“they never pray to me” NJB, REB“they never call to YHWH” JPSOA“do not invoke the Lord”

The verb (BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal perfect) is a common one used in many ways (i.e., a wide semantic field). In Psalms it has several usages.

1. of priests in ritual and prayer Psalms 99:6

2. of the prayers of the covenant people Psalms 4:3; Psalms 20:9; Psalms 50:15; Psalms 86:5; Psalms 91:15; Psalms 107:6, Psalms 107:13; Psalms 116:2; Psalms 141:1

3. the nations do not call on YHWH (i.e., Psalms 79:6) but Israel does Psalms 14:4; Psalms 50:15; Psalms 53:4

In the NT this OT worship phrase (i.e., ritual and prayer) becomes a way of denoting entrance into a relationship with YHWH through Jesus (cf. Acts 2:21; Acts 22:16; Romans 10:9-13).

We are a called people who call on the name of the Lord and are then called to service! Prayerlessness is a sign of false faith and practical atheism!

Psalms 14:5 “There they are in great dread” Literally this is “they feared a fear” (Qal perfect and noun of the same root BDB 808, KB 922).

Since “there” is undefined, some switch it to the end of the phrase and add “where there is no fear” (AB, NJB).

Verse 7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 14:7 7O, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.

Psalms 14:7 “O, that the salvation of Israel” This is a title for YHWH who dwells in Zion (i.e., Mt. Moriah, the temple). Notice the parallel of “YHWH” in line 2.

This verse is also found in Psalms 53:6, which means it may be proverbial. The LXX makes this first line a question.

“restores” This same verb (BDB 996, KB 1427) also can mean “repent” or “turn back.” However, in this context Israel is not called on to repent.

There is a word play between “restores” (BDB 996) and “fortunes” (BDB 986). The footnote in the NET Bible has “turns with a turning (toward) his people.”

“Jacob. . .Israel” The Patriarch Jacob had twelve children who became the twelve tribes. Jacob's name was changed to Israel in Genesis 32:22-32.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ISRAEL (THE NAME)

“rejoice. . .be glad” Both of these verbs denote the result of restoration. Verbs in Hebrew take their time orientation from the context. This context is future.

1. rejoice BDB 162, KB 189, Qal jussive

2. be glad BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What did the fool mean by his statement, “There is no God”?

2. Does the OT teach that all humans are sinful?

3. What does it mean “to call upon the Lord”?

4. Does Psalms 14:7 imply an exile?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 14". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-14.html. 2021.