Psalm 14

Notes (NET Translation)

Ps. 14 is nearly duplicated in Ps. 53, but there are some differences. One difference is that Ps. 14 uses the divine name Yahweh whereas Ps. 53 uses the word Elohim.

For the music director; by David.

1 Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.

The Hebrew word nabal (“fool”) “implies an aggressive perversity”.1 The fool does not necessarily deny God’s existence, but rather denies personal accountability to God for his actions.2

2 The Lord looks down from heaven at the human race, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.

Wisdom is the opposite of foolishness.

3 Everyone rejects God; they are all morally corrupt. None of them does what is right, not even one!

The fool of v. 1 is merely one kind of sinner, for everyone has sinned. But, in this context, the “everyone” might not refer to faithful Israelites (v. 4).

4 All those who behave wickedly do not understand – those who devour my people as if they were eating bread, and do not call out to the Lord.

Verses 1-3 have a universal feel, but verse 4 indicates that the psalmist has in mind an experience that is effecting his people.

LXX assumes that they devour people as easily as they eat food, but this is not explicit. Perhaps they can move easily from eating people to eating a good meal, like a contract killer going out to dinner; the repetition of the verb underlines the incongruity of the movement. Or perhaps it is by devouring the people that they eat bread. They live on the basis of making life hard for others.3

5 They are absolutely terrified, for God defends the godly.

6 You want to humiliate the oppressed, even though the Lord is their shelter.

The meaning of vv. 5-6 is difficult to determine.

It is probable that the psalmist contrasts the passive and active estates of the wicked with those of the righteous. To paraphrase: “the wicked lived in a state of fear as a result of their folly, but the righteous had peace of mind (greater than their oppression) as a consequence of God’s presence in their midst. The fool attempted to do ill to the righteous, but found that the righteous benefited from the presence of God as a refuge.”4

7 I wish the deliverance of Israel would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the well-being of his people, may Jacob rejoice, may Israel be happy!


Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.

  1. Kidner 2008, p. 95 
  2. VanGemeren 2008, p. 175 
  3. Goldingay 2006-11-01, loc. 4326-4329 
  4. Craigie 2004, p. 148 

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