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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 14:1

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

The 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.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Atheism;   Blindness;   Character;   Depravity of Man;   Fool;   Infidelity;   Quotations and Allusions;   Skepticism;   Thompson Chain Reference - Atheism;   Corruption;   Evil;   Faith-Unbelief;   Infidelity;   Nation, the;   Times, Evil;   The Topic Concordance - Corruption;   Foolishness;   Goodness;   Heart;   Righteousness;   Sin;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Character of the Wicked;   Fools;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Fool;   Psalms, the Book of;   Unbelief;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Fool, folly;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Fool, Foolishness, Folly;   Nature, Natural;   Paul the Apostle;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Existence of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - God;   Wise, Wisdom;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abigail;   Muth-Labben;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ethics;   Fool, Foolishness, and Folly;   Good;   Psalms, Book of;   Tradition;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - English Versions;   Fool;   God;   Greek Versions of Ot;   Heredity;   Psalms;   Regeneration;   Sin;   Text, Versions, and Languages of Ot;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - God;   Quotations;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Righteousness;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Fool;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Psalms the book of;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Fool;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Atheism;   Belly;   Fool;   God;   Justification;   Psalms, Book of;   Text of the Old Testament;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Circus;   Huna Bar Abbin Ha-Kohen;  
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for July 20;   Every Day Light - Devotion for March 16;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The sentiments of atheists and deists, who deny the doctrine

of a Divine providence. Their character: they are corrupt,

foolish, abominable, and cruel, 1-4.

God fills them with terror, 5;

reproaches them for their oppression of the poor, 6.

The psalmist prays for the restoration of Israel, 7.

There is nothing particular in the title; only it is probable that the word לדוד ledavid, of David, is improperly prefixed, as it is sufficiently evident, from the construction of the Psalm, that it speaks of the Babylonish captivity. The author, whoever he was, (some say Haggai, others Daniel, c.,) probably lived beyond the Euphrates. He describes here, in fervid colours, the iniquity of the Chaldeans. He predicts their terror and destruction he consoles himself with the prospect of a speedy return from his exile; and hopes soon to witness the reunion of the tribes of Israel and Judah. It may be applied to unbelievers in general.

Verse Psalms 14:1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.נבל nabal, which we render fool, signifies an empty fellow, a contemptible person, a villain. One who has a muddy head and an unclean heart; and, in his darkness and folly, says in his heart, "There is no God." "And none," says one, "but a fool would say so." The word is not to be taken in the strict sense in which we use the term atheist, that is, one who denies the being of a God, or confounds him with matter.

1. There have been some, not many, who have denied the existence of God.

2. There are others who, without absolutely denying the Divine existence, deny his providence; that is, they acknowledge a Being of infinite power, c., but give him nothing to do, and no world to govern.

3. There are others, and they are very numerous, who, while they profess to acknowledge both, deny them in their heart, and live as if they were persuaded there was no God either to punish or reward.

They are corrupt — They are in a state of putrescency and they have done abominable works - the corruption of their hearts extends itself through all the actions of their lives. They are a plague of the most deadly kind; propagate nothing but destruction; and, like their father the devil, spread far and wide the contagion of sin and death. Not one of them does good. He cannot, for he has no Divine influence, and he denies that such can be received.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Psalms 14-17 Godly people in ungodly society

Continuing the theme of Psalms 10-13 (concerning the godly person who is downtrodden), the psalmist notes what happens when people refuse to acknowledge God and live as if he does not care about their actions. The result is a corrupt society (14:1-3). Because they have rejected God they have rejected the true standard by which to judge good and evil. They live solely for themselves, with no consideration for others and no thought for God (4). But in the end victory will go to the poor and downtrodden, because God is on their side (5-7).

In Psalms 15:0 David considers the requirements necessary to enter the presence of God (15:1). These all have to do with character and behaviour, not with religious beliefs and observances. People must be honest in their actions, truthful in their speech, and disciplined in their avoidance of slander and gossip (2-3). They must know how to make right judgments between things that are good and things that are not. In addition they must be reliable and trustworthy, keeping their word even when it hurts. They must be generous and helpful, and never take advantage of the poor or defenceless (4-5a). Such people will dwell in the presence of God and enjoy the lasting security that only God can give (5b).

Psalms 16:0 is David’s thanksgiving for one of the many occasions when God rescued him from what seemed to be certain death. He finds pleasure in the fellowship of God and his people, and rejects all other gods and those who worship them (16:1-4). Possessions may satisfy people and property may enrich them, but David considers that because he has God, he has all the satisfaction and wealth he desires (5-6). God is David’s instructor, friend and protector, the source of his stability and security (7-8). God delivers him from death and leads him through life, giving him the constant joy of his presence (9-11).

(The feelings that David expressed in Psalms 16:0 may have represented ideals that he himself never fully experienced. They find their full meaning in Jesus Christ; see Acts 2:25-28; Acts 13:35-37.)

In another prayer that probably belongs to the time of David’s flight from the murderous Saul, David emphasizes his innocence in the strongest terms (17:1-5). He asks God to protect him from his enemies (6-9), after which he describes their wickedness (10-12) and pronounces their certain destruction. Their hunger for wickedness is only building up a heavier weight of judgment, which will not only fall on them but will also affect their offspring (13-14). The wicked are never satisfied, but the psalmist finds full satisfaction in his experience of God (15).

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible




The title we have chosen here is our own, and it is derived from the apostle Paul's use of this psalm in his description of the Judicial Hardening of Mankind in the first three chapters of the Book of Romans. A study of this phenomenon is of fundamental importance in the understanding of God's ultimate prophecies concerning the repeated apostasy and final destruction of the Adamic race.

We have devoted many pages to this subject in Romans, Amos, Genesis and Revelation.

The great Biblical type of God's hardening men is of course the example of Pharaoh, whose heart the Lord hardened, but not till Pharaoh had hardened his own heart no less than ten times. The three centers of this phenomenon called judicial hardening are (1) in wicked men themselves, (2) in God who hardens men's hearts in the sense of allowing it, and (3) in Satan himself who, with the proper advantage afforded by the conduct of the wicked is able to "blind men," (2 Corinthians 4:4).

What happens when men are hardened? (1) They are blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4), meaning that they are incapable of seeing or understanding the plainest truth. (2) "Their foolish heart (the scriptural heart is the mind) is darkened (Romans 1:21), with the meaning that an essential element of human intelligence has been judiciously removed by God Himself. (3) They become vain in their reasonings (Romans 1:21). (4) They become fools (Romans 1:22), and (5) God gives them up (Romans 1:22,26,28).

The universal hardening of mankind has already occurred three times: (1) in the total apostasy that preceded the Great Deluge; (2) in the conceited trust of mankind in their tower of Babel; and (3) again in the universal wickedness and rebellion against God described by Paul in Romans first three chapters. God's response to that shameful and reprobate condition was epic in all three instances. The first was terminated by the flood; the second resulted in the call of Abraham and the introduction of the device of a Chosen People who, in God's purpose, were to keep the knowledge of God and his commandments before all the world, and in the fulness of time to deliver to the human family the Messiah himself. God's response to the third judicial hardening of the race (so vividly described by Paul in Romans) was the First Advent of Christ, the coming of the Messiah. This, of course, was a mission of mercy.

There will yet be a fourth and final judicial hardening of mankind, as categorically stated in Revelation 15-16, fulfilling the prophecy of the apostles that, "Wickedness would wax worse and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13), and the searching question of Christ himself, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).

God has already revealed what his response to the fourth and final hardening of the Adamic race will be: namely, the Second Advent of Jesus Christ; and contrasted with the first Advent, which was a mission of mercy, his Second Advent will be a mission of judgment on that Day which God has appointed (Acts 17:31).

The determination that the fourth judicial hardening of Adam's race will be the terminal one is derived from the remarkable prophecy of Amos who in eight successive prophecies of God's judgments upon the wicked prefaced each one with the word:

For three transgressions of Damascus, yea for four ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Gaza, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Tyre, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Edom, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Ammon, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Moab, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Judah, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

For three transgressions of Israel, yea for four, ... JUDGMENT.

- Amos 1:3-2:6.

The inability of any man to identify the "three transgressions" or the "four" in a single one of these cases is the only proof needed that something far more important than the destruction of ancient nations was in view here. It is our conviction that these "three" and "four" transgressions are references to the four times that human morality and love of God shall virtually perish from the earth; and the "yea for four" indicates that the fourth such instances of it will usher in the Final Judgment itself.

But does this psalm actually prophesy such a judicial hardening. Romans 3:10-18 is quoted verbatim from this psalm; and while it is true that the last five verses of Paul's quotation are not in our version, there is all kinds of evidence to the effect that the five verses do indeed belong. "They are in the LXX, and the Latin Vulgate, in the Syriac and in another ancient version, the PBV."[1]

There is very little likelihood that the apostle Paul could have found that language anywhere else except in this psalm; and his statement that, "It is written," at the head of his quotation is the only proof of this that is needed.

Furthermore, as many scholars have pointed out, this psalm is repeated almost verbatim in Psalms 53, where the name God is used instead of the word Jehovah, proving, of course, that the Jews used the words interchangeably.

In that passage in Romans from Paul, there is no doubt whatever that the universal judicial hardening of the human race is Paul's theme; and it appears to us that this is the best of reasons for our conviction that the same subject is the focus here.

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."

"The fool." This word, in the singular, is actually a word for the whole race of Adam, as indicated by the next three lines. The atheist here is not a single individual but the whole rebellious race of Adam. Again in Zephaniah 1:2, we have the whole Adamic race referred to in the singular "man." It is the same here.

The Hebrew word for "fool" here is [~nabal], which does not mean a simpleton, but one whose moral thinking is perverted and who has deliberately closed his mind against the reality of God and to the imperatives of God's moral government.[2]

We believe that Kidner struck a note of solemn truth when he wrote that, "This might well be twentieth century man.[3]

We have already pointed out that atheism is not the product of knowledge, education, intelligence, or discernment of any kind, but the child of corruption. "Atheism is the essence of ingratitude, injustice, pride, hatred and selfishness."[4]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The fool - The word “fool” is often used in the Scriptures to denote a wicked man - as sin is the essence of folly. Compare Job 2:10; Psalms 74:18; Genesis 34:7; Deuteronomy 22:21. The Hebrew word is rendered “vile person” in Isaiah 32:5-6. Elsewhere it is rendered “fool, foolish,” and “foolish man.” It is designed to convey the idea that wickedness or impiety is essential folly, or to use a term in describing the wicked which will, perhaps, more than any other, make the mind averse to the sin - for there is many a man who would see more in the word “fool” to be hated than in the word “wicked;” who would rather be called a “sinner” than a “fool.”

Hath said - That is, has “thought,” for the reference is to what is passing in his mind.

In his heart - See the note at Psalms 10:11. He may not have said this to others; he may not have taken the position openly before the world that there is no God, but such a thought has passed through his mind, and he has cherished it; and such a thought, either as a matter of belief or of desire, is at the foundation of his conduct. He “acts” as if such were his belief or his wish.

There is no God - The words “there is” are not in the original. The literal rendering would be either “no God,” “nothing of God,” or “God is not.” The idea is that, in his apprehension, there is no such thing as God, or no such being as God. The more correct idea in the passage is, that this was the belief of him who is here called a “fool;” and it is doubtful whether the language would convey the idea of desire - or of a wish that this might be so; but still there can be no doubt that such is the wish or desire of the wicked, and that they listen eagerly to any suggestions or arguments which, in their apprehension, would go to demonstrate that there is no such being as God. The exact state of mind, however, indicated by the languaqe here, undoubtedly is that such was the opinion or the belief of him who is here called a fool. If this is the true interpretation, then the passage would prove that there have been people who were atheists. The passage would prove, also, in its connection, that such a belief was closely linked, either as a cause or a consequent, with a corrupt life, for this statement immediately follows in regard to the character of those who are represented as saying that there is no God. As a matter of fact, the belief that there is no God is commonly founded on the desire to lead a wicked life; or, the opinion that there is no God is embraced by those who in fact lead such a life, with a desire to sustain themselves in their depravity, and to avoid the fear of future retribution. A man who wishes to lead an upright life, desires to find evidence that there is a God, and to such a man nothing would be more dark and distressing than anything which would compel him to doubt the fact of God’s existence. It is only a wicked man who finds pleasure in an argument to prove that there is no God, and the wish that there were no God springs up only in a bad heart.

They are corrupt - That is, they have done corruptly; or, their conduct is corrupt. “They have done abominable works.” They have done that which is to be abominated or abhorred; that which is to be detested, and which is fitted to fill the mind with horror.

There is none that doeth good - Depravity is universal. All have fallen into sin; all fail to do good. None are found who are disposed to worship their Maker, and to keep his laws. This was originally spoken, undoubtedly, with reference to the age in which the psalmist lived; but it is applied by the apostle Paul, Romans 3:10 (see the note at that passage), as an argument for the universal depravity of mankind.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Many of the Jews are of opinion that in this psalm there is given forth a prediction concerning the future oppression of their nation: as if David, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, bewailed the afflicted condition of the Church of God under the tyranny of the Gentiles. They therefore refer what is here spoken to the dispersed condition in which we see them at the present day, as if they were that precious heritage of God which the wild beasts devour. But it is very apparent, that in wishing to cover the disgrace of their nation, they wrest and apply to the Gentiles, without any just ground, what is said concerning the perverse children of Abraham. (279) We cannot certainly find a better qualified interpreter than the Apostle Paul, and he applies this psalm expressly to the people who lived under the law, (Romans 3:19.) Besides, although we had not the testimony of this Apostle, the structure of the psalm very clearly shows that David means rather the domestic tyrants and enemies of the faithful than foreign ones; a point which it is very necessary for us to understand. We know that it is a temptation which pains us exceedingly, to see wickedness breaking forth and prevailing in the midst of the Church, the good and the simple unrighteously afflicted, while the wicked cruelly domineer according to their pleasure. This sad spectacle almost completely disheartens us; and, therefore, we have much need to be fortified from the example which David here sets before us: so that, in the midst of the greatest desolations which we behold in the Church, we may comfort ourselves with this assurance, that God will finally deliver her from them. I have no doubt that there is here described the disordered and desolate state of Judea which Saul introduced when he began to rage openly. Then, as if the remembrance of God had been extinguished from the minds of men, all piety had vanished, and with respect to integrity or uprightness among men, there was just as little of it as of godliness.

The fool hath said. As the Hebrew word נבל , nabal, signifies not only a fool, but also a perverse, vile, and contemptible person, it would not have been unsuitable to have translated it so in this place; yet I am content to follow the more generally received interpretation, which is, that all profane persons, who have cast off all fear of God and abandoned themselves to iniquity, are convicted of madness. David does not bring against his enemies the charge of common foolishness, but rather inveighs against the folly and insane hardihood of those whom the world accounts eminent for their wisdom. We commonly see that those who, in the estimation both of themselves and of others, highly excel in sagacity and wisdom, employ their cunning in laying snares, and exercise the ingenuity of their minds in despising and mocking God. It is therefore important for us, in the first place, to know, that however much the world applaud these crafty and scoffing characters, who allow themselves to indulge to any extent in wickedness, yet the Holy Spirit condemns them as being fools; for there is no stupidity more brutish than forgetfulness of God. We ought, however, at the same time, carefully to mark the evidence on which the Psalmist comes to the conclusion that they have cast off all sense of religion, and it is this: that they have overthrown all order, so that they no longer make any distinction between right and wrong, and have no regard for honesty, nor love of humanity. David, therefore, does not speak of the hidden affection of the heart of the wicked, except in so far as they discover themselves by their external actions. The import of his language is, How does it come to pass, that these men indulge themselves in their lusts so boldly and so outrageously, that they pay no regard to righteousness or equity; in short, that they madly rush into every kind of wickedness, if it is not because they have shaken off all sense of religion, and extinguished, as far as they can, all remembrance of God from their minds? When persons retain in their heart any sense of religion, they must necessarily have some modesty, and be in some measure restrained and prevented from entirely disregarding the dictates of their conscience. From this it follows, that when the ungodly allow themselves to follow their own inclinations, so obstinately and audaciously as they are here represented as doing, without any sense of shame, it is an evidence that they have cast off all fear of God.

The Psalmist says that they speak in their heart They may not utter this detestable blasphemy, There is no God, with their mouths; but the unbridled licentiousness of their life loudly and distinctly declares that in their hearts, which are destitute of all godliness, they soothingly sing to themselves this song. Not that they maintain, by drawn out arguments or formal syllogisms, as they term them, that there is no God, (for to render them so much the more inexcusable, God from time to time causes even the most wicked of men to feel secret pangs of conscience, that they may be compelled to acknowledge his majesty and sovereign power;) but whatever right knowledge God instils into them they partly stifle it by their malice against him, and partly corrupt it, until religion in them becomes torpid, and at last dead. They may not plainly deny the existence of a God, but they imagine him to be shut up in heaven, and divested of his righteousness and power; and this is just to fashion an idol in the room of God. As if the time would never come when they will have to appear before him in judgment, (280) they endeavor, in all the transactions and concerns of their life, to remove him to the greatest distance, and to efface from their minds all apprehension of his majesty. (281) And when God is dragged from his throne, and divested of his character as judge, impiety has come to its utmost height; and, therefore, we must conclude that David has most certainly spoken according to truth, in declaring that those who give themselves liberty to commit all manner of wickedness, in the flattering hope of escaping with impunity, deny in their heart that there is a God. As the fifty-third psalm, with the exception of a few words which are altered in it, is just a repetition of this psalm, I will show in the proper places, as we proceed, the difference which there is between the two psalms. David here complains that they have done abominable work; but for the word work, the term there employed is iniquity. It should be observed that David does not speak of one work or of two; but as he had said, that they have perverted or corrupted all lawful order, so now he adds, that they have so polluted their whole life, as to make it abominable, and the proof of this which he adduces is, that they have no regard to uprightness in their dealings with one another, but have forgotten all humanity, and all beneficence towards their fellow-creatures.

(279) “ Ce qui est dit de ceux qui, fausses enseignes serenomment enfans d’Abraham vivans autrement qu’il n’appartient.” — Fr. “What is said of those who, according to false marks, call themselves the children of Abraham, while living a different life from what they ought.”

(280) Some critics observe, that as יהוה, Yehovah, the name which denotes the infinite, self-existent essence of God, is not the word here employed, but אלוהס, a name which they regard as referring to God as judge and governor of the world, the meaning of the first verse is not that the fool denies the existence of God, but only his providence and government of the world; that he persuades himself God has no concern about the actions of men, and that there will be no judgment to come; and, therefore, goes on in sin, in the hope of escaping with impunity. — See Poole’s Synopsis Criticorum. The Targum paraphrases the words, “There is no God,” thus, “There is no אלוהס government of God in the earth.”

(281) “ Et abolir de leurs esprits toute apprehension de sa majeste.” — Fr.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Psalms 14:1-7

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. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one ( Psalms 14:1-3 ).

God's estimation of man. None righteous. None that seeketh after God. None that are good, no, not one. Paul quotes this in Romans, chapter 2, as he is laying out his premise and developing the theme of, "The whole world guilty before God." Paul then quotes this, "There is none that seeketh after God. There is none that is good. There is none that is righteous, no, not one."

Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! [Oh that the Messiah would come!] when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad ( Psalms 14:4-7 ).

Looking forward, actually, to the Kingdom Age when God finally restores the people from captivity, and the rejoicing that shall take place. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

A fool (Heb. nabal) is a person who has a problem in his or her heart more than in the head. He does not take God into account as he goes about living and is therefore morally insensitive (cf. 1 Samuel 25:25; Isaiah 32:4-7). He may or may not really be an atheist, and he is not necessarily ignorant, but he lives as though there is no God. This conclusion leads him to disregard the revelations God has given of Himself, attention to which are essential for wise living (cf. Proverbs 1:7; Romans 1:22). Instead, he gives himself over to corrupt living and deeds that are vile in the sight of God. Really, David observed, there is no one who does what is good in the sight of God on his own (unmoved and unaided by the Spirit of God). If we did not have the Apostle Paul’s exposition of the depravity of man in Romans 1-3, we might conclude that David’s statement was emotional hyperbole (cf. Romans 3:11-18).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. David’s appraisal of humanity 14:1-3

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 14

This reflective psalm and Psalms 53 are almost identical. The commentators take differing views concerning the genre since elements of individual lament, wisdom, prophetic, communal lament, and philosophical psalms are all present in this one. Merrill called it a psalm of exhortation. [Note: Merrill, "Psalms," p. 414.]

The failures of human beings that he experienced, and the knowledge that God will judge folly and corruption, led David to long for the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth. The psalmist’s perspective was very broad in this psalm. He spoke of the godly and the ungodly, and he noted their antagonism throughout history.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The fool hath said in his heart,.... This is to be understood not of a single individual person, as Nabal, which is the word here used; nor of some Gentile king, as Sennacherib, or Rabshakeh his general, as Theodoret; nor of Nebuchadnezzar, nor of Titus, as some Jewish writers y interpret it, making one to be here intended, and the other in the fifty third psalm: the same with this; but of a body, a set of men, who justly bear this character; and design not such who are idiots, persons void of common sense and understanding; but such who are fools in their morals, without understanding in spiritual things; wicked profligate wretches, apostates from God, alienated from the life of God; and whose hearts are full of blindness and ignorance, and whose conversations are vile and impure, and they enemies of righteousness, though full of all wicked subtlety and mischief: these say in their hearts, which are desperately wicked, and out of which evil thoughts proceed, pregnant with atheism and impiety; these endeavour to work themselves into such a belief, and inwardly to conclude, at least to wish,

[there is] no God; though they do not express it with their mouths, yet they would fain persuade their hearts to deny the being of God; that so having no superior to whom they are accountable, they may go on in sin with impunity; however, to consider him as altogether such an one as themselves, and to remove such perfections from him, as may render him unworthy to be regarded by them; such as omniscience, omnipresence, c. and to conceive of him as entirely negligent of and unconcerned about affairs of this lower world, having nothing to do with the government of it: and thus to deny his perfections and providence, is all one as to deny his existence, or that there is a God: accordingly the Targum paraphrases it,

"there is no שולטנא, "government" of God in the earth''

so Kimchi interprets it,

"there is no governor, nor judge in the world, to render to man according to his works;''

they are corrupt; that is, everyone of these fools; and it is owing to the corruption of their hearts they say such things: they are corrupt in themselves; they have corrupt natures, they are born in sin, and of the flesh, and must be carnal and corrupt: or "they do corrupt", or "have corrupted" z: they corrupt themselves by their atheistic thoughts and wicked practices, Judges 1:10; or their works, as the Chaldee paraphrase adds; or their ways, their manner and course of life, Genesis 6:12; and they corrupt others with their evil communications, their bad principles and practices, their ill examples and wicked lives;

they have done abominable works: every sinful action is abominable in the sight of God; but there are some sins more abominable than others; there are abominable idolatries, and abominable lusts, such as were committed in Sodom; and it may be these are pointed at here, and which are usually committed by such who like not to retain God in their knowledge; see Romans 1:24;

[there is] none that doeth good; anyone good work in a spiritual manner; not in faith, from love, in the name and strength of Christ, and with a view to the glory of God: nor can any man do a good work without the grace of God, and strength from Christ, and the assistance of the Spirit of God: hence, whatsoever a wicked man does, whether in a civil or in a religious way, is sin; see Proverbs 21:4. Arama takes these to be the words of the fool, or atheist, saying, there is no God that does good, like those in Zephaniah 1:12.

y Vid. Jarchi, Kimchi Ben Melech in loc. z השחיתו "corruperunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus "corrumpunt", Junius Tremellius "corrumpunt se", Piscator.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Human Depravity.

To the chief musician. A psalm of David.

      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.   2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.   3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

      If we apply our hearts as Solomon did (Ecclesiastes 7:25) to search out the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness, these verses will assist us in the search and will show us that sin is exceedingly sinful. Sin is the disease of mankind, and it appears here to be malignant and epidemic.

      1. See how malignant it is (Psalms 14:1; Psalms 14:1) in two things:--

      (1.) The contempt it puts upon the honour of God: for there is something of practical atheism at the bottom of all sin. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. We are sometimes tempted to think, "Surely there never was so much atheism and profaneness as there is in our days;" but we see the former days were no better; even in David's time there were those who had arrived at such a height of impiety as to deny the very being of a God and the first and self-evident principles of religion. Observe, [1.] The sinner here described. He is one that saith in his heart, There is no God; he is an atheist. "There is no Elohim, no Judge or governor of the world, no providence presiding over the affairs of men." They cannot doubt of the being of God, but will question his dominion. He says this in his heart; it is not his judgment, but his imagination. He cannot satisfy himself that there is none, but he wishes there were none, and pleases himself with the fancy that it is possible there may be none. He cannot be sure there is one, and therefore he is willing to think there is none. He dares not speak it out, lest he be confuted, and so undeceived, but he whispers it secretly in his heart, for the silencing of the clamours of his conscience and the emboldening of himself in his evil ways. [2.] The character of this sinner. He is a fool; he is simple and unwise, and this is an evidence of it; he is wicked and profane, and this is the cause of it. Note, Atheistical thoughts are very foolish wicked thoughts, and they are at the bottom of a great deal of the wickedness that is in this world. The word of God is a discerner of these thoughts, and puts a just brand on him that harbours them. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him; for he thinks against the clearest light, against his own knowledge and convictions, and the common sentiments of all the wise and sober part of mankind. No man will say, There is no God till he is so hardened in sin that it has become his interest that there should be none to call him to an account.

      (2.) The disgrace and debasement it puts upon the nature of man. Sinners are corrupt, quite degenerated from what man was in his innocent estate: They have become filthy (Psalms 14:3; Psalms 14:3), putrid. All their faculties are so disordered that they have become odious to their Maker and utterly incapable of answering the ends of their creation. They are corrupt indeed; for, [1.] They do no good, but are the unprofitable burdens of the earth; they do God no service, bring him no honour, nor do themselves any real kindness. [2.] They do a great deal of hurt. They have done abominable works, for such all sinful works are. Sin is an abomination to God; it is that abominable thing which he hates (Jeremiah 44:4), and, sooner or later, it will be so to the sinner; it will be found to be hateful (Psalms 36:2), an abomination of desolation, that is, making desolate, Matthew 24:15. This follows upon their saying, There is no God; for those that profess they know God, but in works deny him, are abominable, and to every good work reprobate,Titus 1:16.

      2. See how epidemic this disease is; it has infected the whole race of mankind. To prove this, God himself is here brought in for a witness, and he is an eye-witness, Psalms 14:2; Psalms 14:3. Observe, (1.) His enquiry: The Lord looked down from heaven, a place of prospect, which commands this lower world; thence, with an all-seeing eye, he took a view of all the children of men, and the question was, Whether there were any among them that did understand themselves aright, their duty and interests, and did seek God and set him before them. He that made this search was not only one that could find out a good man if he was to be found, though ever so obscure, but one that would be glad to find out one, and would be sure to take notice of him, as of Noah in the old world. (2.) The result of this enquiry, Psalms 14:3; Psalms 14:3. Upon search, upon his search, it appeared, They have all gone aside, the apostasy is universal, there is none that doeth good, no, not one, till the free and mighty grace of God has wrought a change. Whatever good is in any of the children of men, or is done by them, it is not of themselves; it is God's work in them. When God had made the world he looked upon his own work, and all was very good (Genesis 1:31); but, some time after, he looked upon man's work, and, behold, all was very bad (Genesis 6:5), every operation of the thought of man's heart was evil, only evil, and that continually. They have gone aside from the right of their duty, the way that leads to happiness, and have turned into the paths of the destroyer.

      In singing this let us lament the corruption of our own nature, and see what need we have of the grace of God; and, since that which is born of the flesh is flesh, let us not marvel that we are told we must be born again.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 14:1". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.