Psalm 53

Read: Proverbs 2:1 – 8; James 1:5 – 7

Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are three key concepts in the wisdom literature of the Bible. Wisdom is essentially fear (awe, respect) of the Lord.  Understanding is action– departing from evil to do good. Knowledge is true information that helps us to fear God and to depart from evil and do good. Psalm 53:1 – 2 asserts that unbelief is evidence of folly and lack of understanding.

Think About It: How can we attain wisdom according to Proverbs 2:1 – 8? What additional light does James 1:5 -7 shed on the attaining of wisdom?

Prayer:  Ask God for wisdom.


Read: Psalm 53:1 – 4; Psalm 10:4

Psalm 53 is nearly identical to Psalm 14.  Psalm 14 does not, however, have in its title the information given in the title to Psalm 53 that the psalm is to sung to with the accompaniment of the mahalath, which is believed to be a musical instrument which made mournful, depressing sound capable of drawing forth feelings of anxiety and sorrow from the depths of the heart.  The sorrowful music of the mahalath was perfect accompaniment for the sorrowful topic of the psalm: denial of God’s existence, the worst kind of foolishness.

Think About It:  In Psalm 53: 1 – 4 how is the fool contrasted to the essential characteristics of wisdom: wisdom, knowledge and understanding? What are some possible reasons why the fool denies the reality of God?

Prayer:  For the repentance and conversion of anyone I know who denies the existence of God.


Read: Psalm 53:3 – 4; Romans 3:10 – 12

David asserted in Psalm 53:34 that the unbeliever is not only foolish, he is also wicked. The Hebrew word translated “corrupt” means “ruined” or “completely rotten.”  The location of this Psalm, coming after David’s confession in Psalm 51 and his screed against Doeg in Psalm 52, seems appropriate. David experienced corruption and complete rottenness in himself and in others.

Think About It: What evidence do we have of the essential rottenness of human nature?  What are the consequences of denying this revealed truth about man and insisting instead on man’s “essential goodness”?

Prayer:  That I might have a humble willingness to acknowledge not only my sins, but my sinfulness.


Read: Psalm 53:1-4; Hebrews 11:6

Man’s essential corruption is spiritual in nature according to Psalm 53, the spiritual problem being a broken relationship with God.

Think About It: According to Psalm 53:1 – 4, what are the symptoms of man’s essential spiritual problem regarding God? What motivates a person to deny God? Why does a person refuse to seek God? Why does a person refuse to call upon God? How is a person’s broken relationship with God reflected in their actions according to Psalm 53:1 – 4?

Prayer:  Lord, strengthen my faith in Your existence, grant me wisdom to seek You, hear me when I call to You.


Read: Psalm 53:5, Proverbs 28:1

Even before God’s judgment comes on them, sinners live in fear.

Think About It:  How does an unbelieving, proud, and self-reliant spirit lead eventually to paranoia?

Prayer:  For the humility to trust God for protection and the wisdom to differentiate between real and imagined threats.


Read: Psalm 53:5; 2 Peter 3:7, 10 – 13

What the wicked person fears will eventually happen to him, from the very quarter whose reality he denies– from God.

Think About It:  In what sense is God’s promised judgment of the wicked a warning for me? In what sense is it good news for me?

Prayer:  For faith and patience to wait for God’s justice to be manifest against those deserving of judgment.


Read: Psalm 53:6; Isaiah 52:7 – 9

This grim psalm ends with a word of hope: salvation comes out of Zion.  Psalm 53 does not present the Gospel, but it does present the need for God’s saving grace and promises God’s deliverance for His people.

Think About It: How do I know I am one of God’s people? What can I expect of God as a result of being one of His people?

Prayer:  For the prophetic witness of the church in an increasingly unbelieving and hostile world.