Psalm 53 is a lament for one swallowed up in an unrighteous world. It is very similar to Psalm 14, opening with the tragic phrase, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” While we are quick to point to the antagonistic atheists, the word “fool” is synonymous with “wicked.” “This person is neither ignorant nor an atheist,” one commentator writes. “It reflects the wisdom tradition where the ‘fool’ aggressively and intentionally flouts independence from God and his commandments.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
Basically, the world is full of fools. There are those who are openly antagonistic towards Christ and Christians, while there are many more, like the passage suggests, that simply seek independence as the highest goal. This independence takes shape many ways including workaholism, materialism, pursuing knowledge, or even idolizing family. All of these things are great—God has a lot to say about work, how we should use our resources, seeking wisdom, and especially our families. However, when these things are pursued out of self-interest, rather than God’s glory, that’s idolatry.
When self is the highest priority and gratification it’s goal, corruption and wickedness will soon follow. This behavior is vividly pictured in verse 4 when it speaks of eating people as eating bread.
I love the Psalmist’s words in verse 6, “Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores His captive people, Let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.” This hope of God’s restoration has taken place. When you consider this passage, that verse 2 and 3 are almost directly quoted in Romans 3:10–12, and how Paul goes on to say that “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This heartfelt plea has been answered by God in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The opposite of foolishness is wisdom, and as we know from Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10, et al). Jesus later said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). A world in rebellion to God can be a scary place to live. However, Jesus’ words in context are an encouragement to not be afraid. We are valuable to God, he made a way for us to be in a relationship with him, and he has given us hope in Jesus.
In the comments, discuss what foolish ways you are sometimes tempted to pursue independence from God and what strategies you have employed to win. Share this with others that you may encourage them in their struggle.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate