Psalm 53

53:0Psalm 53 is nearly the same as Psalm 14. There are two differences:

– You will find the word Lord 4 times in Psalm 14 and the word God 3 times. In Psalm 53, the word Lord is nowhere, but God appears 7 times.

– Verse 5 in Psalm 53 is not the same as in Psalm 14.

Why are there these differences?

There is an English hymn (or Christian song) that starts ‘Eternal Father, strong to save.’ It is a hymn that asks God to give help to sailors. W. Whiting wrote it in 1860. There were no planes in 1860. Since people have travelled by plane, we have needed a new hymn. So, someone has written ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’ again. This time it asks God to give help to airmen. We describe the hymn as ‘rewritten’ (or ‘somebody wrote it again.’) This happened to Psalm 14.

In Psalm 14, David wrote about Moses bringing the Israelites through the Red Sea. God had saved them from Egypt. But now, nearly 300 years after David died, God saved them again. This time he saved them from Assyria. So, Psalm 14 was ‘rewritten.’ It became Psalm 53. It was still David's psalm, but they had to make two changes:

– They put the name God instead of Lord. Perhaps this was because they wanted everyone to know that he was God of the whole world. Lord is a name that only God's people use.

– They changed verses 5 and 6 in psalm 14 to verse 5 in Psalm 53. This says that God threw away the bones of the people that attacked Judah. Those people were the Assyrians.

Will They Never Learn?

This is for the music leader.

Use the music called Mahalath.

It is a special song that David wrote.

1 A fool thinks that there is no God.

People like that are bad. They are evil.

None of them does anything that is good.

53:1Verse 1: There are two groups of fools:

– Those that make us laugh

– Those that are stupid.

This psalm is about the second group. ‘Thinks’, in Hebrew is ‘says in his heart.’ The Jews believed that you thought with your heart. But you also feel in your heart. It makes you do things good or bad.

2 God is looking down from heaven on the people on earth.

He wants to see if there is:

· anyone that understands

· anyone that is looking for God

53:2Verse 2: ‘The people on earth’ in Hebrew is ‘sons of men.’ This probably means not the people, but the leaders of the enemies of God. But they make the people do what they want them to do. In this verse, we find the Hebrew word ‘maskil.’ We translate this ‘teaching psalm’ when it is at the top of a psalm (like this one). Here we say that it means ‘understands.’ In other words, people have learned something!

3 But they have all turned away and have become evil.

Nobody does anything good, not one person.

4 Will the evil doers not learn?

They eat my people as easily as they eat bread.

They do not speak to God.

53:4Verse 4: ‘Eat my people as they eat bread’ means that bad men kill God's people. They do it as easily as they eat a meal. They do not feel that they have done something that is bad.

5 They were very much afraid when there was nothing to fear!

God threw away the bones of the people that attacked you, his people.

He made the evil doers ashamed because God did not like them.

53:5Verse 5: This is about the way that God's angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. The story is in 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37. The Assyrians were winning the war. So they went to sleep one night and they were not afraid. In the morning, when they awoke, 185,000 of them were dead! Then the others that did not die ‘were afraid, very much afraid.’ They went home to Assyria and Jerusalem was free!

6 Oh, who will come from Zion and make Israel safe?

When God makes his people rich and happy again,

Jacob will sing and Israel will dance.

53:6Verse 6: So, Jacob sang and Israel danced! Jacob and Israel are names for God's people.