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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 14

Verses 1-7


David describes the universal depravity of mankind, and the enmity of the wicked against the people of God, 1- 6. He longs and prays for the salvation of Israel, 7

Psalms 14:1-7.

V. 1. This psalm is thought to have been written on occasion of Absalom’s rebellion, and the people’s defection from their aged and pious king ; and the mention of Zion, as the place whence salvation was to come (71), shews that it was composed some time after David came to the kingdom over all Israel. From the degeneracy of Israel shewn in that instance, the Psalmist takes occasion to lament the entire depravity of human nature : and the psalm is almost entirely the same as the fifty-third.

The word fool (h:) in scripture, denotes one who not only is destitute of true wisdom, but who hates it ; the openly ungodly and wicked man. (Mary. Ref. a.) Persons of this description, " like not to retain God in their knowledge," and therefore " say in their hearts, No God." Averse from obedience and submission to the authority of any superior, and even from the thoughts of an omnipotent ever-present, heart-searching, and righteous Governor and Judge ; and disliking his spiritual worship and holy law ; they secretly wish that there were no God ; they try to hope there is none ; they seek for arguments and objections against his existence, perfections, or authority ; they try to believe what they wish to be true, and by the aid of Satan, through the just judgment of God, they in a measure succeed. In order, however, to exclude troublesome misgivings, and to strengthen their cause, they propagate these absurdities, and endeavour to make proselytes. This is the real history of the rise and progress of atheism, that deepest stigma of human nature. Man, having done abominable works, being conscious of guilt, and bent on further transgression, expects nothing but wrath from God, and so runs into atheism for a shelter from terror and alarm : unless idolatry, or some species of false religion, can be rendered equally efficacious in quieting the conscience, and giving encouragement in sin. And, as specuitivc atheism is the offspring of a depraved heart and vicious life, it _also tends to the increase of wickedness : thus the fatal infection spreads, and produces general degeneracy and profligacy. (Note, Romans 1:28-32.)

V. 2, 3. Upon the strictest scrutiny, the all-seeing Judge could not find one of the children of men, who understood his obligations, duty, and interest, or that sought the favour and glory of the Lord. All were turned aside from the right way ; nto different ways of disobedience : all were become filthy and corrupt, or putrid, in his sight : not one could be found disposed to do that which is spiritually good. This must be understood of man left to himself, man as he is by nature, without regeneration : and St. Paul quotes the passage to prove the need which both Jews and Gentiles have of redemption and salvation by grace, and through faith in Christ. (Notes, Romans 3:9-20.) Between this verse and that which follows, three verses are inserted in the version used in the common Prayer Book, which are taken from some copies of the Septuagint : for in other copies they are not found, any more than in the Hebrew and Syriack. The apostle in the third chapter of Romans, has the same verses ; and it is evident that he selected them from several parts of the Old Testament, especially from the fifth, thirty-sixth, and one hundred and fortieth Psalms, and the fifty-ninth chapter of Isaiah : it is therefore probable, that some transcriber of the Septuagint inserted those verses from that remarkable passage of the apostle.

V. 4- 6. Every kind of wickedness will in the event be found contrary to prudence and wise self-love. But those who persecute the worshippers of God, and take pleasure in this hateful employment, and refuse to ask any mercy or favour from him, do in effect set him at defiance; which is the height of madness and folly. (Notes, John 15:17-21. Acts 8:1; Acts 26:9-11.) Yet, when they would cast off the fear of God, they become slaves to various terrors ; and often add one crime to another, from fear of offending their fellow-creatures, or to avoid the consequences of their former misconduct. Whereas God dwells among the righteous, to protect them from dangers and alarms. The Psalmist having stated these general principles, remonstrates with his insulting enemies, for deriding the counsel of the poor believer, who makes the Lord his refuge : when their own inward terrors evince, thai they cannot find security and comfort elsewhere.

V. 7- The more fully and deeply David experienced and witnessed the depravity of man, and the disposition of Israel to apostatize} the more fervently he longed and prayed for the salvation of Israel, by the power and favour of JEHOVAH, who was worshipped on mount Zion. By this it is reasonable to suppose, that he did not merely intend Israel’s deliverance from bondage, or from subjection to foreign enemies or domestick usurpers : nor did he pray only for his own restoration to the throne, and return to the courts of God ; but especially for the promised kingdom and salvation of the Messiah, and for the deliverance of his people from the " captivity " or bondage of Satan, to the liberty of God’s service, with all its glorious and joyful effects.

(Notes, 1 Chronicles 16:34-36. 2 Timothy 2:23-26.)

Salvation.] nearly the same as JESUS. (Note, Matthew 1:20-21.)


All the wickedness of men’s words and actions springs from the corrupt fountain of their hearts: and if the thoughts of ungodly persons were detected and published, (as they will be at the day of judgment,) how vile would they appear! (Note, 1 Corinthians 4:3-5.) Infidelity and iniquity have a reciprocal influence on each other ; and they are progressive, till men’s foolish hearts become darkened, and atheism is conceived and promulgated. Men differ in their peculiar propensities and outward characters : but they are all naturally carnal, alienated from God, destitute of true wisdom, incapable of things spiritually good, gone aside from the right way, and corrupt in their desires and imaginations : and therefore all would have gone further, and sunk deeper in " abominable works," continually and eternally, if it had not been for the inestimable redemption of Jesus Christ. We should be thankful, if we have been restrained from the more destructive excesses, into which so many are hurried ; but we ought not to rest in any thing short of union with Christ, and a new creation unto holiness by his Spirit. If we have experienced this blessed change, let us give the Lord all the glory ; and let us pity and pray for our fellow-sinners. The enmity of the human heart against God appears, not only from man’s proud aversion to call upon his name, but from the delight, which in all ages men have taken in persecuting his inoffensive people : all however who engage in this attempt will prove their own folly; and the terrors, to which they have often been exposed, evince that they do violence to the light of their own consciences. However the poor believer may be derided for his confidence in God, he has obtained such a Refuge from every danger and enemy, as .shall never make him ashamed : for God himself dwells among the righteous, and is their Protector in every generation. All our acquaintance with the depravity of human nature, should endear to us " salvation out of Zion : and while we rejoice in the earnests, and are waiting for the completion, of our own salvation, we should long and pray for the enlargement and prosperity of the church. When that expected season shall arrive, that the Jews shall be re-admitted among the people of God ; then indeed " will Jacob rejoice, and Israel be glad," and the event shall prove " as life from the dead " to the whole race of men. (Note, Romans 11:11-15.) But in heaven alone shall the whole company of the redeemed rejoice, without alloy or interruption for evermore.

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 14". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.