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Psalm 14



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

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


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.



 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.

14:1 "fool" This psalm is almost exactly like Psalm 53. 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. Deut. 32:6,21; 2 Sam. 13:13; Ps. 10:4,11,13; 53:1; 74:22; Ezek. 13:3). The proverb of Luke 12:48 surely applies to these 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.


▣ "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 Ps. 14:2-3. Notice how fallen humanity is characterized.

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

2. no one understands

3. no one seeks after God

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

5. all have become corrupt

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

14:2 "The Lord has looked down from heaven" YHWH was envisioned to dwell in heaven (see Special Topic at Ps. 8:1), from which He sees and knows all that occurs on earth (acts, motives, intents, cf. Ps. 33:13,14; 102:19; Job 28:24). YHWH, so different from the idols, sees, knows, and acts!

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. Exod. 32:8; Deut. 9:12; 11:16; 17:11,17; Jdgs. 2:17; 1 Sam. 12:20; 2 Kgs. 22:2; Jer. 5:23; 17:13; 32:40). The turning away was not an act of ignorance but purposeful rebellion!

 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.

14:4-6 This strophe heightens the results of "not knowing" (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal perfect, see Special Topic at Ps. 1:6). 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. Deut. 10:17-19; 14:29; 24:17,19-22; 26:12,13; 27:19)!

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


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 — Ps. 99:6

2. of the prayers of the covenant people — Ps. 4:2; 20:10; 50:15; 86:5; 91:15; 107:6,13; 116:2; 141:1

3. the nations do not call on YHWH (i.e., Ps. 79:6) but Israel does — Ps. 14:4; 50:15; 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; 22:16; Rom. 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! 

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).

 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.

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 Ps. 53:6, which means it may be proverbial. The LXX makes this first line a question (cf. Ps. 53:6).

▣ "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 Gen. 32:22-32.


▣ "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



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 verse 7 imply an exile?


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