Psalm 53

April 22, 2021

To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.

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.

2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.

5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: Thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

The Point:

The world is in perpetual rebellion against God and fiercely opposes God’s people.

How do we feel in the recitation of this psalm?

We feel oppression from those who live in rebellion against God. Moreover, we anticipate the joy that we will experience when God finally delivers His people from the tyranny of a world that denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

What does this psalm say?

Verse 1. The Fool. Do you know the definition of a fool? The Bible defines it very clearly for us in this passage as the man who denies the existence of God. Put another way, he is the man who does not live his life in the fear of God. He denies the very foundation of wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:7). But how can the Bible call these men fools when there are some very knowledgeable college professors who appear to be something better than fools? Or what about the man who designs rockets that take men into outer space, and at the same time denies the existence of God? When men deny God, they deny the right to say that anything is absolutely true or right. They undermine the only firm foundation for knowledge. For a time they may be able to use the intellectual endeavors of true men of faith from previous generations. But these fools are corrupt, and their knowledge is already corrupting. Their minds are rotted out like a half-eaten, two-week old deer carcass.

Verses 2–3. Natural Man. Anybody who rejects God as his Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer is a fool and would be put in the category of what we call “natural men.” Repeating this identical passage in his book of Romans, the Apostle Paul reminds us that every single person (Jew or Gentile) falls into this category. Short of the grace of God saving us from our blindness and spiritual death, none of us would seek out God. Occasionally, you may meet an unbeliever who says he is open minded and looking for the truth. But that is only another lie. He would admit to hating the truth, especially the truth about God. By nature (that is, before the Spirit of God renews our minds and hearts), there is none that does good. Not a single thought, nor a single word or action is directed towards God in both reverence and love. This is a hard indictment on every man, woman, and child who has ever lived, and it is hard to accept for billions of people around the world. But of course it is hard for them to accept this fact because they are blind and corrupt. They have all turned away!

Verse 4–5. Opposing God. Not only do wicked and rebellious men oppose God, but they eat up God’s people as if they are eating bread. That refers to their bold and unashamed cruelty usually exercised through persecution and martyrdoms. If the ungodly achieve the power to do it, they will eventually attack God’s people. This story has been repeated in every pagan, humanist, or just plain rebellious nation since the beginning of time. Cain killed Abel. The wicked Jews killed the prophets of God and the Son of God. The Romans killed the Christians in the first few centuries, and the Communists have been killing Christians for almost a century. But they are still fools. Why would anybody in his right mind kill the precious children of a king? Or who would kill the precious children of the King of the Universe? Or, even more, why would they murder the precious children for whom the King of the Universe sent his Son to die?

The Psalmist speaks in faith. He sees the end of these wicked rebels who have turned away from God. Their destruction is utterly complete. Their bones are scattered. Referring to the judgment of the Messiah, David speaks in verse 5 of One who will put these fools to shame.

Verse 6. Redemption. Speaking in a significant prophetic and hopeful conclusion to the psalm, David looks forward to the salvation that will come through the Messiah. God’s people spent most of their time in captivity in the Old Testament. Think about it. From the time of the Exodus, to the time of the Judges, to the captivity of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, God’s chosen people, the people of Israel, were held captive by pagan nations. Our captivity to sin is the core spiritual element of our enslavement. But there are also significant physical manifestations of enslavement. We find it in chattel slavery, debt, and big government tyranny. While our nation enjoyed a brief respite from this slavery at the beginning, over the last 100 years we have seen a significant rise in the enslavement of debt and the growth of human governments over the people, and it is the same way in most Western nations. The cry for deliverance from all types of slavery is quite legitimate.

Progressively, we do see God deliver us from the slavery of sin and the world. What a blessing! This is a cause for great rejoicing. Indeed, the coming of Jesus Christ has impacted our world in a significant way.

How do we apply this psalm?

1. First, we must be careful who teaches our children. Since the Bible tells us that the fool says, “There is no God,” we certainly do not want the fool teaching our children about knowledge and wisdom.

2. Men, by nature, do not like to hear the bad news, that there is something terribly wrong with them that needs to be fixed. But it is the very beginning of the Gospel message. If you haven’t received the bad news, there is no way you will want to receive the good news—that God saves sinners. A message concerning sin will drive the penitent to utterly rest on God for salvation.

How does this psalm teach us to worship God?

Worship takes a good hard look at the reality of the wicked. We describe the natural man who is dead in his sins with straightforward clarity. We speak of the cruel persecutions that come by the hands of wicked men. But then, we affirm the sovereignty and justice of God. In faith, we know that God exists and God will act for His people in His time. Though we may go through long periods of oppression and persecution, we will still take strong hope and confidence in God’s Story. He wins in the end, every time.

Questions:

1. How do you define a fool?

2. What is the “natural man”?

3. How does the Psalmist describe the natural man?

4. Give examples of the ungodly persecuting God’s people.

5. Who will scatter the bones of these rebels that persecute God’s people?

Family Discussion Questions:

1. Have you ever been oppressed by those who reject God? Did you assume those people were open-minded and fair when it came to the truth you were presenting?

2. How should we treat the people we know who loudly claim that there is no God?