Psalm 53 — Is Sin Everywhere? — Reading the Psalms

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For the Chief Musician; set to Mahalath. Maschil of David.

1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none that doeth good.
2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there were any that did understand,
That did seek after God.
3 Every one of them is gone back; they are together become filthy;
There is none that doeth good, no, not one.
4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge?
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And call not upon God.
5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was:
For God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee;
Thou hast put them to shame, because God hath rejected them.
6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!
When God bringeth back the captivity of his people,
Then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

David’s complaint is over the great spread and number of the wicked who know no God. They are so plentiful that in this psalm, when God looks out into the vast seas of mankind, no good person is seen. What a dire and depressing thought to settle on one’s heart. Loneliness as a child of God is no new thing.

Of course, how literal could this psalm be? Ws not David himself one who believed in God? Surely this must be a case of hyperbole – over stating the reality to make a point. It is so, to be sure, yet I think one important idea must not be forgotten: even David sinned.

The apostle Paul uses this psalm in his letter to the Romans to remind us of the universality of our failures. “For all have sinned” says Paul; is not this true What, then, do you think about this psalm Is it your encouragement in your loneliness, or your exhortation to repent? God will return his people from spiritual captivity. Will you be among them?

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