The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Thus begins Psalm 53, our passage for today. It ends with a great hope: Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. —Psalm 53:6 ESV
God, in this Psalm, “speaketh twice,” for this is the same almost verbatim with the fourteenth Psalm. The scope of it is to convince us of our sins, to set us blushing, and to set us trembling because of them: there is need of “line upon line” to this purpose. God, by the psalmist, here shows—
1. The fact of sin. God is a witness to it. He looks down from heaven and sees all the sinfulness of men’s hearts and lives. All this is open and naked before him.
2. The fault of sin. It is iniquity (Ps 53:1,4); it is an unrighteous thing; it is that in which there is no good (Ps 53:1,3); it is going back from God (Ps 53:3).
3. The fountain of sin. How comes it that men are so bad? Surely, it is because there is no fear of God before their eyes; they say in their hearts, there is no God at all to call us to account, none that we need to stand in awe of. Men’s bad practices flow from their bad principles.
4. The folly of sin. He is a fool (in the account of God, whose judgment we are sure is right) who harbours such corrupt thoughts. The “workers of iniquity, “whatever they pretend to, “have no knowledge; “they may truly be said to know nothing that do not know God. Ps 53:4.
5. The filthiness of sin. Sinners are “corrupt” (Ps 53:1); their nature is vitiated and spoiled; their iniquity is “abominable; “it is odious to the holy God, and renders them so; whereas, otherwise he “hates nothing that he has made.” What neatness soever proud sinners pretend to, it is certain that wickedness is the greatest nastiness in the world.
6. The fruit of sin. See to what a degree of barbarity it brings men at last! See their cruelty to their brethren! They “eat them up as they eat bread.” As if they had not only become beasts, but beasts of prey. See their contempt of God at the same time—they have not called upon him, but scorn to be beholden to him.
7. The fear and shame that attends sin (Ps 53:5). “There were they in great fear” who had made God their enemy; their own guilty consciences frightened them and filled them with horror. This enables the virgin, the daughter of Zion, to put them to shame and expose them, “because God hath despised them.”
8. The faith of the saints, and their hope and power touching this great evil (Ps 53:6). There will come a Saviour, a great salvation, a salvation from sin. O that it might be hastened! for it will bring in glorious and joyful times. There were those in Old Testament times that looked and hoped, that prayed and waited for this redemption. Such salvations were often wrought, and all typical of the everlasting triumphs of the glorious church.
Condensed from Matthew Henry,1662-1714.