The Wicked Surrounding the Remnant
The Wicked Surrounding the Remnant
Psalm 53. The inscription indicates that this is a psalm of David. It was written to the tune of “Mahalath”, meaning “sickness”. This psalm describes the diseased state of the nation of Israel, and the remnant’s acknowledgement of it before God. See also Psalm 88. Psalm 53 is very similar in wording to Psa. 14, the main difference being that Psalm 14 is Jehovahistic, and Psalm 53 is Elohistic, in keeping with the character of the second book. The enemies in Psalm 14 are the ungodly Jews, and in Psalm 53 the ungodly Gentiles.1
To the chief Musician. On Mahalath: an instruction. Of David.
1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God! They have corrupted themselves, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
v.1 The Atheistic Character of the Wicked. These verses bring out the character of the wicked as “the fool”. In v.1a we find that the wicked live without reference to God; “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” While this is prophetic of the circumstances in the world in the future, morally this is true of men even today who live without reference to God. The apostasy that will be full blown in a future day has already begun. In v.1b we find the results of living without reference to God; “They have corrupted themselves, they have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good”. Man cannot have morals without reference to God.
2 God looked down from the heavens upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
3 “Every one of them is gone back, they are together become corrupt: there is none that doeth good, not even one.” [quoted Rom. 3:11-12]
vv.2-3 The Condition of Man Without Reference to God. As in Gen. 6:5 and 11:5, again “God looked down from the heavens upon the children of men”. He looked to see if there were “any that did understand, that did seek God”. The conclusion? “Every one of them is gone back, they are together become corrupt, etc.” The apostle Paul quotes this in Romans 3 to establish the lost condition of man, but especially of the Jews, but also the Gentiles. Perhaps this is why the same verse is found in Psalm 14 (Jews) and Psalm 53 (Gentiles).
4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, eating up my people as they eat bread? they call not upon God.
5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was; for God scattereth the bones of him that encampeth against thee. Thou hast put them to shame, for God hath despised them.
vv.4-5 The Error of the Wicked. The “workers of iniquity” really are insensible to God and His claims. This leads them to abuse and consume (“eat”) the Lord’s people; i.e. the faithful Jews. They “call not upon God” because they have abandoned true worship and instead worship the beast. But though they say “there is no God”, the wicked are still in “great fear” when persecuting the faithful, because “God scattereth the bones of him that encampeth against thee”. The psalmist remarks on the irony of the fear that that wicked experience, who had no fear of God, yet they come to fear Him when He judges.
6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God turneth again the captivity of his people, Jacob shall be glad, Israel shall rejoice.
v.6 The hope of the remnant. The remnant is looking forward to “the salvation of Israel” – a reference to the Messiah Himself – to come out of Zion (Zech. 14:3; Amos 3:16). When the Lord appears, then the restoration of Israel will occur; not just of the two tribes, but also the ten tribes. The expression “turneth again the captivity” refers to a full return of Israel, not the partial return under Zerubbabel, nor that under Nehemiah, but that of the future, under Messiah. When their proper national hopes are realized, “Jacob shall be glad, Israel shall rejoice”. When the Lord roars out of Zion, He will already have restored His people. He comes to Zion to restore them, and He will come out of Zion to judge His enemies at the winepress judgment!