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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 14

Verse 1


Now that wickedness has reached its nadir under the leadership of the antichrist, we find in this psalm the description of the wickedness of the people. It is a foolish (Psalms 14:1) and totally deviated (Psalms 14:3) people, both in word (Psalms 14:1-Exodus :) and in deed (Psalms 14:3-Deuteronomy :). Seeing so much wickedness, the faithful remnant seeks refuge in the LORD alone (Psalms 14:6).

This psalm is almost identical to Psalm 53. In Psalm 53, the name LORD, the God of the covenant, is replaced with the name God, making the form of address more distant. The ending of that psalm is also different.

The Fool

For “for the choir director” (Psalms 14:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “[a Psalm] of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

“The fool” (Psalms 14:1) – Hebrew nabal – is not the ignorant or the unbeliever, the atheist, but the wicked who deliberately excludes God. He hates and despises the LORD (Psalms 74:18; Psalms 74:22). It is not just about his thinking, it is deeply rooted in his inner being and visible in his actions (Isaiah 32:6). He does so “in his heart”, the center of his existence. All his actions flow from it and make it clear that he ignores the existence of God.

The thought that there is no God does not mean so much the denying the existence of God, which is what the atheist does. The fool is one who pretends as if there is no God (Luke 12:16-Proverbs :; Zephaniah 1:12). For him, “in his heart” – meaning this is his conviction – He is not present, because He does not assert Himself. He does not show Himself, therefore there is no God. The fool denies that he is accountable to God and that Divine judgment will follow. His life is all about himself. He acts entirely according to his own judgment, without taking God into account in the slightest. He totally ignores Him.

If God is not taken into account, it also has harmful consequences for the fool’s environment. There is an inseparable and undeniable connection between religious decay and social decay. One who excludes God becomes a disaster for his fellow men.

In three lines David describes the actions of the wicked. In doing so, he switches from the singular, “the fool”, to the plural, “they”. The one fool has become a great company of fools. It is common in Hebrew, that the fool is often a designation for a group of people who act foolishly. Prophetically we see here the antichrist and the unbelieving mass of the people who follow him.

The first feature of fools is, “they are corrupt” (cf. Deuteronomy 4:16; Isaiah 1:4). Their actions are rotten and create an atmosphere that causes decay and calls down God’s judgment. It is the same word “corrupt” as in Genesis 6, where it is mentioned as the reason for the flood (Genesis 6:12). The less awareness of God a person has, the lower their standards and values become.

Second, “they have committed abominable deeds”. Their deeds are abominable to God. They are in connection with idols, which are also called “abominations”. Their deeds are abhorrent and reprehensible and arouse abhorrence (cf. Ezekiel 16:49-1 Thessalonians :).

Third, fools are characterized by a total lack of doing good. There is no godliness, that is, no fear or reverence for God. If that is not present, there can be no doing good. Doing good is not present in any member of this group of fools who count themselves among God’s people. There is truly “no one who does good”. There is an abundance of destruction and abomination present, while not the slightest bit of doing good can arise in them.

People may think they are doing good when they give away some of their wealth to charities. They don’t give because God tells them to, because they don’t care about Him, but for a good feeling. The determining factor, however, is not what people see as “doing good”, but what God judges as “doing good” (cf. Isaiah 64:6).

The conclusion that there is no one who does good makes all human charity valueless. This is hard to swallow for all those who give and all those who work so hard for any good cause. If it is not done out of obedience to God, it is sin, because “everything that is not done by faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

Verses 2-3

How the LORD Sees the Sons of Men

God has looked down from heaven on His creation and His creatures, the sons of men (Psalms 14:2). That was already true in Genesis 6 and Genesis 11 (Genesis 6:5; Genesis 11:5), but here it is the people of Israel! He has been a Witness to all their actions.

He has looked around and examined “to see if any who understand”. The understanding one – Hebrew maskil (Daniel 12:3) – is the counterpart of the fool. The understanding or wise person is not only one with understanding, but also one who acts in accord with his understanding of the nature and revelation of God. It is one who seeks after God.

God must observe that “they have all turned aside” from Him and thus from the source of blessing (Psalms 14:3). They have left His will and way and have gone astray from Him, or apostatized, as the words turned aside can also be translated. They have cut the connection with Him and “together they have become corrupt”. The word “together” points to a collective expulsion of God. It is as if the totality of humanity has made an agreement to banish God from their thinking and to encourage one another to disregard Him.

Willingly and knowingly “they have become corrupt”, indicating that something is no longer healthy or has become stinky and must be discarded. The word “corrupt” originally has the meaning of ‘souring’ of milk. People who ignore God sour themselves and sour all with whom they come into contact, even if they are constantly playing the comedian. What is soured can not be consumed. It is unbearable. Most of all, it’s about what they are to God. He looks down from heaven and sees how soured they are, so that He can do nothing more with them than cast them away.

David has already said in Psalms 14:1 that there is “no one who does good”. In Psalms 14:3, he says it for the second time, emphasizing this conclusion strongly by adding that there is “not even one”.

Paul quotes these verses in Romans 3 to show that all men, all humanity, including the Jews, “are under sin” (Romans 3:9; Romans 3:13-Job :).

Verses 4-6

Men Are Wicked

David wonders in doubt if fools then completely lack knowledge (Psalms 14:4). Will the wicked never learn? He is amazed that “all the workers of wickedness” are indulging in his people, the people over whom he is King to protect and care for them. But the fools have the upper hand now that David seems to be on the run. They see in David’s subjects an opportunity for profit. Instead of calling upon the Lord, they feast on the possessions of their defenseless fellow citizens. They do not call upon the Lord because they do not want to acknowledge Him in their hearts.

However, their tyranny will come to an end. They will be seized with fear when they are suddenly confronted with the fact that God is on the side of His people, “the righteous generation” (Psalms 14:5). It may seem that they put to shame “the counsel of the afflicted” by thwarting and exploiting him in every way. But the LORD is the “refuge” of the afflicted (Psalms 14:6). With Him he is safe. No matter what the fools in their wickedness do to the afflicted, the afflicted has what the fool does not have, and that is protection and security.

An example is Naboth who is killed by the wicked Ahab and the even more wicked Jezebel. Naboth does not want to sell his inheritance to Ahab because he has received this land from the LORD (1 Kings 21:1-Leviticus :). The counsel of this ‘afflicted’ seems to put to shame because he is murdered (1 Kings 21:8-Ezra :). But the LORD has been his refuge. That He is not only for this life, but above all after this life. Naboth will get everything back in the resurrection. Then the fools will be put to shame.

Verse 7

The Hope of the Righteous

David’s sigh and exclamation, “Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!”, is quoted by Paul in Romans 11. He quotes this verse to prove that all Israel will be saved when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”, as he first argued (Romans 11:25). The quote that immediately follows is not a sigh as here in the psalm, but a certainty. He quotes: “The Deliverer will come from Zion” (Romans 11:26).

Paul makes known in Romans 11 the mystery (Romans 11:25) that Israel has been rejected by God, but will also be accepted again by God. This then concerns a remnant. Because the fools, that is the unbelieving masses, have all been judged, this remnant is “all Israel”. With this ‘new’ Israel, God continues after the “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25).

This last expression means that the Christian witness on earth has fulfilled the time of its testimony, has reached its end. God has had to cut it off because it has not remained in His goodness (Romans 11:22). After that, Israel will again become the object of His public love.

That the deliverance or the Deliverer comes from Zion to redeem His people, that is, the believing remnant who have repented, means that He will come first to Zion (Isaiah 59:20). That will happen at His second coming, which is His return to earth. Then He will have let “His captive people” return from the scattering, and all the people, the two and the ten tribes, will be under one King and one Shepherd in the land (Ezekiel 37:21-Lamentations :). He has brought a turn in their fate.

A pre-fulfillment, which is only partial and also temporary, is the return from exile in Babylon, also with mainly Israelites from the two tribes (Ezra 1:1-Deuteronomy :). The final fulfillment will occur in the realm of peace. In Psalm 15 we are given a description of the features of those who will partake of it.

The psalm concludes with the joy of “Jacob” and the gladness of “Israel”. Jacob means “heels holder” (Genesis 25:26). It is the name of weakness and deviation that have characterized the patriarch Jacob, while at the same time there has been a longing for the blessing of God. That shows his entire history. In this regard we may consider that God calls Himself “the God of Jacob” just when He is about to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt (Exodus 3:6; Exodus 3:15Exodus 4:5). This name of God also appears several times in Psalms (Psalms 20:1; Psalms 46:7Psalms 46:11; Psalms 75:9Psalms 81:1; Psalms 81:4Psalms 94:7; Psalms 114:7Psalms 146:5).

Israel means “prince of God” (Genesis 32:28). Jacob received this name from God after his struggle with Him. In that struggle he begged for the blessing. Whoever begs for the blessing is in God’s eyes His prince. It is the name that expresses the value of God for such a person. Jacob is the name of practice, Israel is the name of position before God. That Jacob rejoices shows that even in enjoying full redemption and blessing, there will always be the awareness that it is undeserved, and bestowed by mere grace. That Israel is glad shows that God is above all weakness and has made of Jacob an Israel.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.