Psalm 14

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David’s name is linked to this psalm, but the subject matter does not make it possible to relate it to any particular period in his life. The superscription is the same as in Psalm 13 (which see for a note).

In his heart, or within himself, the fool says that there is no God. This expression is not a spoken denial of God’s existence but an inward rejection of any accountability to the Most High. The senseless one does not lack mental capacity but is morally deficient, conducting his affairs as if God did not exist.

From the divine standpoint, senseless persons are corrupt and engage in abhorrent practices. Not a person among them does what is good or godly.

The psalmist portrays YHWH as looking down from his heavenly position upon the “sons of man” (earthlings) to determine whether any among them are acting wisely (in harmony with his purpose and will) and seeking him, earnestly desiring a good relationship with him. According to this penetrating divine examination, all have strayed from the path of uprightness. All were corrupt, without even as much as one doing good or what is divinely approved. In view of the mention of God’s people thereafter, evidently this is not a blanket condemnation of all humans, but a description of those who are enemies of his people.

The question about their having no knowledge probably is to be understood as meaning whether they do not recognize that lawlessness merits punishment. These practicers of evil are depicted as devouring God’s people like bread. This may be descriptive of their ruthlessness in seizing life’s essentials from upright persons, especially the poor, and thereby putting their lives at risk. Unlike the upright, the hateful oppressors banish YHWH from their lives, never calling upon him.

Confident that YHWH will not indefinitely allow the affliction of his people to continue, the psalmist referred to a time when the oppressors would be in great terror, evidently when faced with punitive judgment. According to the reading of the Septuagint, “they were afraid with fear, where there was no fear.” Although they had no reverential fear of God, they experienced fear or terror. The basis for the psalmist’s confidence is God’s being with the generation of the righteous one. Therefore, those whom YHWH recognizes as belonging to this “generation” can rest assured that he will sustain them in their affliction and come to their aid.

The “counsel of the poor” probably refers to the standards or principles by which they live, including their reliance on YHWH and their faithful application of his commands in dealing with others. The wicked would “shame” this counsel, either by mocking it or by making it appear to be of no benefit. Nevertheless, the poor had YHWH as their refuge, indicating that they would not come to disappointment.

Because YHWH’s sanctuary or representative place of dwelling was in Zion, the psalmist prayed for Israel’s deliverance to come from there. Upon YHWH’s “turning the captivity of his people,” delivering them from their state of affliction, Jacob (as their ancestor representing the people) would be able to exult and Israel (the new name given to Jacob and which also designated his descendants) would have reason to rejoice.


In Rahlfs’ printed text, the expanded reading of verse 3, found in Romans 3:13-18, is enclosed in brackets to indicate that it is not considered a part of the original text of the Septuagint. The apostle Paul quoted these words to show that both Jews and Greeks (non-Jews) are all under sin. With the expanded portion, verse 3 of the Septuagint and Romans 3:12-18 (with the exception of one transposition) are identical. The Masoretic Text does have the words quoted in Romans 3:12 but does not include those found in Romans 3:13-18. Portions of the quotation are, however, found in other psalms (5:9; 10:7; 36:1; 140:3) and in Isaiah 59:7, 8.

In verse 6, the phrase including the Hebrew word bosh (put to shame) has been variously rendered. “You may set at naught the counsel of the lowly” (Tanakh). “Ye would put to shame the counsel of the poor” (Margolis). “You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor” (NIV). “You may spoil the plans of the poor” (CEV). “You would confound the plans of the poor” (NRSV). “They would crush the hopes of the poor” (NAB).

In the Septuagint, the opening words of verse 7 are a question: “Who will give the salvation of Israel from Zion?”

Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.