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Psalm chapter 14

New International Version

1 For the director of music. Of David. The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
4 Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the LORD. 5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge. 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
English Standard Version

1 To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? 5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. 6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
King James Version

1 {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} 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.
4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. 5 There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. 6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. 7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
New American Standard Bible

1 The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they have committed detestable acts; There is no one who does good. 2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of mankind To see if there are any who understand, Who seek God. 3 They have all turned aside, together they are corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. 4 Do all the workers of injustice not know, Who devour my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the LORD? 5 There they are in great dread, For God is with a righteous generation. 6 You would put to shame the plan of the poor, But the LORD is his refuge. 7 Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of His people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.
New Living Translation

1 For the choir director: A psalm of David. Only fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. 3 But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!
4 Will those who do evil never learn? They eat up my people like bread and wouldn't think of praying to the LORD. 5 Terror will grip them, for God is with those who obey him. 6 The wicked frustrate the plans of the oppressed, but the LORD will protect his people.
7 Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel? When the LORD restores his people, Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice.
Christian Standard Bible

1 The fool says in his heart, "There's no God." They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God.
3 All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.
4 Will evildoers never understand? They consume my people as they consume bread; they do not call on the Lord. 5 Then they will be filled with dread, for God is with those who are righteous.
6 You sinners frustrate the plans of the oppressed, but the Lord is his refuge. 7 Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

What does Psalm chapter 14 mean?

The opening line of this Psalm summarizes Scripture's assessment of those who reject God. The term used here for a "fool" is nābāl, which implies a stubborn, irrational form of willful ignorance. The problem with such persons is not poor intellect, or lack of evidence (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18–20), but a choice in their will—in the heart (Jeremiah 17:9)—to live as if God does not exist (Psalm 14:1).

From God's eternal and holy perspective, the human race is like something beautiful which has been ruined or corrupted. The phrasing used here is echoed by Paul when he points out the universal sin nature of humanity (Romans 3:9–12). Even when a person tries to be "good," the effort is still tainted by the effects of sin (Isaiah 64:6). In this context, David is noting the complete depravity of those who reject even God's existence (Psalm 14:2–3).

Old Testament Scripture often uses the imagery of oppressors "eating" those they abuse (Proverbs 30:14; Psalm 27:1–2; Micah 3:1–3). Despite this, David is confident that those who refuse to acknowledge God will face judgment (Hebrews 10:31; Revelation 20:11–15). Though evil people often persecute others, believers can take comfort knowing that God will make all things right (John 16:33; Revelation 21:1–5). He remains a safe place, like a shelter, for those who believe in Him (Psalm 14:4–6).

The psalm ends with a hopeful look forward, to when Jesus comes back to establish His earthly kingdom (Revelation 19:11–16). This total victory is part of many Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 9:6–7; Zechariah 13:1; Zephaniah 3:16–20). With this final triumph over sin, all of God's people will have reason to celebrate (Psalm 14:7).