Friday, February 22, 2008

Studying Psalm 53

>> Background

Pslam 53 is a parallel version of Psalm 14, but it is in NO WAYS, a duplicate copy. The fact that it is written again in a very similar way, shows the intention of the Psalmist to draw closer attention to the content of it. Each repetition is not in vain but a double emphasis for us to pay closer attention to. Scripture never repeats itself needlessly, there is good cause for the second writing of this Psalm. Let us read it with more profound attention than before.

This Psalm is a variation of Psalm 14. In each of these two Psalms the name of God occurs seven times. In Psalm 14, it is three times Elohim, and four times Jehovah; in the present Psalm it is seven times Elohim. Christopher Wordsworth, 1868.

The above quote from Christopher Wordsworth suggests that Psalm 14 and 53 were written for different audiences. Psalm 14 speaks about the enemies of God who are in great fear as God will deal to them the ultimate judgment. Psalm 53 however speaks more of God’s deliverance, rather than of His judgment. He is in the midst of His righteous people, scattering the bones of their enemies who plot against them.

>> Observation

What are some common themes that you can pick out?

Q.Who is the Psalmist referring to as the fool?
A. Those who say “There is no God”. These are people who have closed their mind to God and to all instruction. For them, there is no need to reckon with God in all any areas of their lives.

Q. What is the characteristics of such a man?
1. He is corrupt
2. His ways are vile
3. Not one of them does good.

Q. What is the condition of mankind in general as God looks down?

1. Everyone has turned away.
- The Amplified Bible translates this as gone back. In Psalm 14 the word used was turn aside which was bad enough. Here, it is described as gong in the opposite direction, which emphasizes that man is drawing even further away from God.

2. There is no one who does good

3. There is no one who seeks God.

Q. What is God’s judgment on these people?
1. God despises them
2. They will be overwhelmed with dread.

>> Interpretation

The Psalm can be divided into three parts.
Verses 1-3 are an account of universal godlessness.
Verses 4-6 asks a rethorical question expressing the ‘could not care less’ attitude of the wicked followed by God’s intervention
Verse 6 concludes with a prayerful wish, expressing hope for the restoration of the well-being of the people of God.

Hewbrew 2:1 calls us to “pay more careful attention to what he have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. A double emphasis on an entire Psalm about Godlessness in the world must surely be a warning from God to us, not to follow the ways of the world but to be seekers of God.

Practical atheism, the Lord assures, is not a position we should be comfortable to accept. It is the foolishness of man that leads them to think this way. And once they do so, they will be overwhelmed with dread instead of finding the answers they are searching for.

>> Application

Spend time building our relationship with God and let Him reveal His reality to us, lest we become fools and claim, “There is no God.” Will you be counted as one of those who did not understand God or one of those that seeks the Lord? Decide today to follow Christ wholeheartedly.

Resources (Joshua Teo's materials)
1. The New Century Bible Commentary (A. A. Anderson)
2. Treasury of David (Charles Spurgeon)
3. John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible

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