Psalms 53


The sentiments of atheists and deists, who deny Divine

Providence; their character: they are corrupt, foolish,

abominable, and cruel, 1-4;

God fills them with terror, 5;

reproaches these for their oppression of the poor, 5.

The psalmist prays for the restoration of Israel, 6.


The title, To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, an instructive

Psalm of David. The word machalath, some translate the

president; others, the master or leader of the dance; others,

hollow instruments; others, the chorus. A flute pipe, or wind

instrument with holes, appears to be what is intended. "To the

chief player on the flute;" or, "To the master of the band of


Verse 1. The fool hath said in his heart] The whole of this

Psalm, except a few inconsiderable differences, is the same as the

fourteenth; and, therefore, the same notes and analysis may be

applied to it; or, by referring to the fourteenth, the reader will

find the subject of it amply explained. I shall add a few short


Have done abominable iniquity] Instead of avel, evil or

iniquity, eight of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. have

alilah, work, which is nearly the same as in Ps 14:1, &c.

Verse 4. Have the workers of iniquity] For , poaley, workers

seventy-two of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., with several

ancient editions, the Chaldee, though not noticed in the Latin

translation in the London Polyglot, the Syriac, Vulgate,

Septuagint, AEthiopic, and the Arabic, with the Anglo-Saxon, add

the word col, all,-ALL the workers of iniquity; which is the

reading in the parallel place in Ps 14:3, 4. It may be necessary

to observe, that the Chaldee, in the Antwerp and Paris Polyglots,

and in that of Justinianus, has not the word col, ALL.

Have not called upon God] Elohim; but many MSS. have

Jehovah, LORD.

Verse 5. For God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth

against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath

despised them.] The reader will see, on comparing this with the

fifth and sixth verses of Ps 14:5, 6, that the words above are

mostly added here to what is said there; and appear to be levelled

against the Babylonians, who sacked and ruined Jerusalem, and who

were now sacked and ruined in their turn. The sixth verse of

Ps 14:6, "Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the

Lord is his refuge," is added here by more than twenty of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.

Verse 6. O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!]

I have already shown that the proper translation is, "Who shall

give from Zion salvation to Israel?" The word salvation is in the

plural here, deliverances: but many MSS., with the Septuagint,

Vulgate, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon, have it in the singular.

When God bringeth back] When Jehovah bringeth back, is the

reading of more than twenty of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.,

with the Septuagint, Syriac, and Chaldee, and Justinianus'

Polyglot Psalter.

For larger notes and an analysis, the reader is requested to

refer to Ps 14:1, &c.; and for a comparison of the two Psalms he

may consult Dr. Kennicott's Hebrew Bible, where, under Ps 14:1,

&c., in the lower margin, the variations are exhibited at one


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