Summary: Betrayal is one of the hardest things we have to deal with, especially if it is a friend or brother or sister. David experienced much betrayal in his life and in these Psalms we learn how to effectively deal with friends who become enemies.
Psalm 53 was probably adapted from Psalm 14 after Israel experienced a tremendous military victory over a godless people. It acknowledges that there are some people who reject God so thoroughly that they live as if they will never have to give an answer for their behavior. In the Scriptures, that is the definition of foolishness.
1 – 3
What David is describing here is “practical atheism.” It isn’t a fool like we think of—someone who is stupid, but fool here describes someone who chooses to not accept the reality of God. It is moral insensitivity and spiritual ignorance. The person described here “says in their heart” there is no god. The attitude pervades their character. This isn’t someone who just hasn’t made up their mind. This is someone who has flat out rejected God.
This decision has consequences. The person who rejects God rejects good. When they do that, they are then led to do the opposite of good. The Holman calls it “corrupt” and “they do vile deeds.” Corrupt here means “decayed”. Vile is “loathsome”.
We like to think that man, in the absence of a supreme being, would evolve to moral goodness. Quite the opposite is actually true.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7-9: “Don't be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”
God has investigated and found that as a race, no one deserves mercy from God—no one seeks God—and no one can be considered “good” given God’s holiness.
Paul repeated the words of the end of verse 3 in Romans 3:12.
What is lacking is a sense of the peril this puts people in.
4 – 5
The enemies of God’s people trample them with no more thought than eating a slice of bread. But they ignore God to their own peril. They put God’s people in terror but it is they who will feel terror “like no other.”
They have rejected God—and so God in turn rejects them. But what they don’t realize is that apart from the life of God there is only death. They don’t realize or refuse to acknowledge that withiut God they are without anything they have ever considered to be good.
Verse 6 is a rejoicing that though these kind of enemies who take no thought of God do wicked things against God’s people, that ultimately He will prevail and we will rejoice and be glad in His victory.
There are two vital questions we must all face as humans: is there a God and if so, does He care what I do?
I personally think the evidence for the existence of God is all around us. There is evidence in the creation, evidence in the Scriptures, evidence by eye witnesses, and even evidence in our own hearts. I think the more important question is: does God care? The answer is: absolutely.
God said: “Be holy as I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2) and “no man can see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Paul said: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In fact, Jesus said: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34). The truth is that as humans we sin by nature and cannot help it. In fact, without God, our human nature draws us further away from thinking, speaking, and acting like God.