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Psalm chapter 53

What does Psalm chapter 53 mean?

This psalm opens with a declaration that "the fool" denies God's existence. The Hebrew word translated as "fool" in this verse is nā'bāl. This doesn't imply someone who is stupid or incapable. It means someone senseless, irrational, or lacking in wisdom. Even intelligent people can act like fools, and there is nothing more foolish than denying the very existence of God (Psalm 53:1).

The name used for "God" in this psalm is Elohim, the God of creation. This contrasts to other Old Testament passages which use the expression YHWH, sometimes transliterated as Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God. Those who deny the existence of their own creator are not only foolish but also corrupt. Immorality is not something reserved for atheists, of course. God observes the entire human race as wayward, corrupt, and void of meritorious good deeds (Psalm 53:2–3).

David notes that there are wicked ones who persecute God's people, but he realizes God will cause those evildoers to be destroyed. This psalm makes a strong point that God puts those who attack Him and His people to shame. Some scholars think this might be a vague prophecy about what God did to the Assyrian army that encamped around Jerusalem in the time of King Hezekiah. The depiction of God scattering bones evokes bodies being strewn around without burial—this is a graphic and potent warning about the eternal wrath of God (Psalm 53:4–5).

As David considers the rampant evil in the world, he longs for God to deliver Israel and establish His kingdom on earth. When God fulfills David's desire for the kingdom, Israel will experience great joy. According to prophecies in books such as Zechariah, this plea will be granted, someday (Psalm 53:6).
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