What does Psalm 14:1 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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.
CSB: The fool says in his heart, "There's no God." They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.
NLT: Only fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
KJV: {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.
NKJV: {To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.} The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
Verse Commentary:
Scripture is clear that those who reject God's existence—or live as if He does not exist—are recklessly irrational. The Hebrew word used here is nābāl. Other verses in Proverbs use different Hebrew words which can be translated into English as "fool" (Proverbs 1:7; 10:23; 12:15). Those other words tend to focus on moral evil and ignorance, but none require someone who lacks intelligence. Nābāl, used here, implies someone senseless, with an emphasis on being willingly disobedient. The "fool" of this type is characterized by animal stereotypes (Psalm 49:20) such as donkeys and mules.

First Samuel 25 introduces a man named Nabal (1 Samuel 25:3). He exemplifies the type of "fool" this psalm condemns. Nabal was obstinate, ignorant, crude, and unreasonable (1 Samuel 25:17). He refused to help David and his men when messengers from David requested provisions. This was after David's men had protected Nabal's workers (1 Samuel 25:7). Despite clear evidence, and good reasons , "Fool" chose to act arrogantly and selfishly. David was tempted to retaliate until Abigail, Nabal's wife, persuaded him not to shed blood (1 Samuel 25:21–35).

According to Scripture, rejecting or dismissing God's existence is corrupt and leads to an evil life (Romans 1:18–32). Even those respected as good citizens are depraved fools if they reject the truth that God exists. Such a person lacks spiritual wisdom, so they are incapable of doing anything that pleases the Lord. Their heart is wicked. Their head lacks spiritual knowledge. Such a person continues to be entirely depraved, meaning every part of their being has been marred by sin.

Romans 3:10–12 includes this verse's phrasing as part of Paul's explanation of sin.

The word translated "corrupt" here is from the Hebrew root shachath, meaning "marred, ruined, polluted, or destroyed" (Genesis 6:11; Proverbs 25:26). Jeremiah 13:7 applies the same word to a ruined item of clothing: it had become "spoiled" and "good for nothing." This is subtly different from the term used in Psalm 14:3, which more specifically refers to moral corruption.
Verse Context:
Psalm 14:1–3 comments on the general state of humanity. Those who reject the existence of God are described as fools. Moral corruption is widespread, and the earth if filled with evildoers who refuse to seek God. Sin has tainted everything humanity does, and everyone has turned away from God.
Chapter Summary:
David begins this psalm by describing those who live as if God does not exist as "fools." From God's perspective, the entire human race has become corrupt and estranged from God. Especially heinous are the evildoers who persecute the poor and weak. However, God stands up for the righteous and subjects the wicked to the terror of His judgment. Believers find their protection in the Lord. David concludes with a bright hope: a longing for God's kingdom to arrive. At that time, the Lord will bless Israel with fortunes, and Jacob's descendants will rejoice and be glad.
Chapter Context:
This psalm and Psalm 53 are extremely similar. Romans 3:10–12 quotes from these passages. Like previous psalms, this describes David's enemy as corrupt, ignorant of God, and thoroughly evil. The psalm ends with David's prayer for God to establish the kingdom for Israel.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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