Psalm 53

David wrote this special song for the music leader. Use the music called Mahalath.

People are wicked

53:1Psalm 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?

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.

1 A fool thinks that there is no God.

People like that are bad.

They do evil things.

None of them does anything that is good.

53:1There 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 looks down from heaven

at the people on earth.

He wants to see if there is anyone who is really wise

and who wants to know God.

53:2‘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.

They have all become evil.

Nobody does anything that is good,

not even one person.

4 People who do wicked things understand nothing.

They destroy my people

as easily as they eat bread.

They never pray to God.

53:4‘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 But now they are very afraid

when there is nothing to be afraid of!

God has completely won against his enemies,

the people that attack you, his people.

God has turned against them,

so you are able to make them ashamed!

53:5This 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 woke up, 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 God, you are the one who saves your people, Israel!

Leave your home in Zion

and make your people safe again!

When God blesses his people,

Jacob's descendants will sing!

Yes, Israel's people will be very happy!

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