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Psalms 14:1-7

Context
Psalm 14 1 

For the music director; by David.

14:1 Fools say to themselves, 2  “There is no God.” 3 

They sin and commit evil deeds; 4 

none of them does what is right. 5 

14:2 The Lord looks down from heaven 6  at the human race, 7 

to see if there is anyone who is wise 8  and seeks God. 9 

14:3 Everyone rejects God; 10 

they are all morally corrupt. 11 

None of them does what is right, 12 

not even one!

14:4 All those who behave wickedly 13  do not understand – 14 

those who devour my people as if they were eating bread,

and do not call out to the Lord.

14:5 They are absolutely terrified, 15 

for God defends the godly. 16 

14:6 You want to humiliate the oppressed, 17 

even though 18  the Lord is their 19  shelter.

14:7 I wish the deliverance 20  of Israel would come from Zion!

When the Lord restores the well-being of his people, 21 

may Jacob rejoice, 22 

may Israel be happy! 23 

1 sn Psalm 14. The psalmist observes that the human race is morally corrupt. Evildoers oppress God’s people, but the psalmist is confident of God’s protection and anticipates a day when God will vindicate Israel.

2 tn Heb “a fool says in his heart.” The singular is used here in a collective or representative sense; the typical fool is envisioned.

3 sn “There is no God.” The statement is probably not a philosophical assertion that God does not exist, but rather a confident affirmation that God is unconcerned about how men live morally and ethically (see Ps 10:4, 11).

4 tn Heb “they act corruptly, they make a deed evil.” The verbs describe the typical behavior of the wicked. The subject of the plural verbs is “sons of man” (v. 2). The entire human race is characterized by sinful behavior. This practical atheism – living as if there is no God who will hold them accountable for their actions – makes them fools, for one of the earmarks of folly is to fail to anticipate the long range consequences of one’s behavior.

5 tn Heb “there is none that does good.”

6 sn The picture of the Lord looking down from heaven draws attention to his sovereignty over the world.

7 tn Heb “upon the sons of man.”

8 tn Or “acts wisely.” The Hiphil is exhibitive.

9 sn Anyone who is wise and seeks God refers to the person who seeks to have a relationship with God by obeying and worshiping him.

10 tn Heb “everyone turns aside.”

11 tn Heb “together they are corrupt.”

12 tn Heb “there is none that does good.”

13 tn Heb “all the workers of wickedness.” See Pss 5:5; 6:8.

14 tn Heb “Do they not understand?” The rhetorical question (rendered in the translation as a positive affirmation) expresses the psalmist’s amazement at their apparent lack of understanding. This may refer to their lack of moral understanding, but it more likely refers to their failure to anticipate God’s defense of his people (see vv. 5-7).

15 tn Heb “there they are afraid [with] fear.” The perfect verbal form is probably used in a rhetorical manner; the psalmist describes the future demise of the oppressors as if it were already occurring. The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is also used here for dramatic effect, as the psalmist envisions the wicked standing in fear at a spot that is this vivid in his imagination (BDB 1027 s.v.). The cognate accusative following the verb emphasizes the degree of their terror.

16 tn Heb “for God is with a godly generation.” The Hebrew noun דּוֹר (dor, “generation”) refers here to the general class of people who are characterized by godliness. See BDB 190 s.v. for other examples where “generation” refers to a class of people.

17 tn Heb “the counsel of the oppressed you put to shame.” Using a second person plural verb form, the psalmist addresses the wicked. Since the context indicates their attempt to harm the godly will be thwarted, the imperfect should be taken in a subjunctive (cf. NASB, NRSV) rather than an indicative manner (cf. NIV). Here it probably expresses their desire or intent (“want to humiliate”).

18 tn It is unlikely that כִּי (ki) has a causal force here. The translation assumes a concessive force; another option is to understand an asseverative use (“certainly, indeed”).

19 tn Heb “his.” The antecedent of the singular pronoun is the singular form עָנִי (’ani, “oppressed”) in the preceding line. The singular is collective or representative here (and thus translated as plural, “they”).

20 sn The deliverance of Israel. This refers metonymically to God, the one who lives in Zion and provides deliverance for Israel.

21 tn Heb “turns with a turning [toward] his people.” The Hebrew term שְׁבוּת (shÿvut) is apparently a cognate accusative of שׁוּב (shuv).

22 tn The verb form is jussive.

23 tn Because the parallel verb is jussive, this verb, which is ambiguous in form, should be taken as a jussive as well.



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