The Treasury of David

Psalm 14

Title. This admirable ode is simply headed, “To the Chief Musician, by David.” The dedication to the Chief Musician stands at the head of fifty-three of the Psalms, and clearly indicates that such psalms were intended, not merely for the private use of believers, but to be sung in the great assemblies by the appointed choir at whose head was the overseer, or superintendent, called in our version, “the Chief Musician, “and by Ainsworth, “the Master of the Music.” Several of these psalms have little or no praise in them, and were not addressed directly to the Most High, and yet were to be sung in public worship; which is a clear indication that the theory of Augustine lately revived by certain hymn book makers, that nothing but praise should be sung, is far more plausible than scriptural. Not only did the ancient Church chant hallowed doctrine and offer prayer amid her spiritual songs, but even the wailing notes of complaint were put into her mouth by the sweet singer of Israel who was inspired of God. Some persons grasp at any nicety which has a gloss of apparent correctness upon it, and are pleased with being more fancifully precise than others; nevertheless it will ever be the way of plain men, not only to magnify the Lord in sacred canticles, but also, according to Paul’s precept, to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord. As no distinguishing title is given to this Psalm, we would suggest as an assistance to the memory, the heading—Concerning Practical Atheism. The many conjectures as to the occasion upon which it was written are so completely without foundation, that it would be a waste of time to mention them at length. The apostle Paul, in Romans 3:1-31, has shown incidentally that the drift of the inspired writer is to show that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; there was, therefore, no reason for fixing upon any particular historical occasion, when all of history reeks with terrible evidence of human corruption. With instructive alterations, David has given us in Psalms 53:1-6 a second edition of this humiliating psalm, being moved of the Holy Ghost thus doubly to declare a truth which is ever distasteful to carnal minds.

Division. The world’s foolish creed (Psalms 14:1); its practical influence in corrupting morals, Psalms 14:1-3. The persecuting tendencies of sinners, Psalms 14:4; their alarms, Psalms 14:5; their ridicule of the godly, Psalms 14:6; and a prayer for the manifestation of the Lord to his people’s joy.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 14:3

Exposition

They are all gone aside. Without exception, all men have apostatized from the Lord their Maker, from his laws, and from all the eternal principles of right. Like stubborn heifers they have sturdily refused to receive the yoke, like errant sheep they have found a gap and left the right field. The original speaks of the race as a whole, as a totality; and humanity as a whole has become depraved in heart and defiled in life.

They have altogether become filthy; as a whole they are spoiled and soured like corrupt leaven, or, as some put it, they have become putrid and even stinking. The only reason why we do not more clearly see this foulness is because we are accustomed to it, just as those who work daily among offensive odours at last cease to smell them. The miller does not observe the noise of his own mill, and we are slow to discover our own ruin and depravity. But are there no special cases, are all men sinful? “Yes, “says the Psalmist, in a manner not to be mistaken, “they are.” He has put it positively, he repeats it negatively,

There is none that doeth good, no, not one. The Hebrew phrase is an utter denial concerning any mere man that he of himself doeth good. What can be more sweeping? This is the verdict of the all seeing Jehovah, who cannot exaggerate or mistake. As if no hope of finding a solitary specimen of a good man among the unrenewed human family might be harboured for an instant. The Holy Spirit is not content with saying all and altogether, but adds the crushing threefold negative, “none, no, not one.” What say the opponents to the doctrine of natural depravity to this? Rather what do we feel concerning it? Do we not confess that we by nature are corrupt, and do we not bless the sovereign grace which has renewed us in the spirit of our minds, that sin may no more have dominion over us, but that grace may rule and reign?

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Ver. 2-3. See Psalms on “Psalms 14:2 for further information.

The ungodly are “vile” persons (Nahum 1:14). “I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.” Sin makes men base, it blots their name, it taints their blood: They are altogether become filthy; in the Hebrew it is, they are become stinking. Call wicked men ever so bad, you cannot call them out of their name; they are “swine” (Matthew 7:6); “vipers” (Matthew 3:7); “devils” (John 6:70). The wicked are the dross and refuse (Psalms 119:119); and heaven is too pure to have any dross mingle with it. Thomas Watson.

Altogether become filthy. Thus the Roman satirist describes his own age: “Nothing is left, nothing, for future times To add to the full catalogue of crimes; The baffled sons must feel the same desires, And act the same mad follies as their sires, Vice has attained its zenith.” Juvenal, Sat. 1.

There is none that doeth good, no, not one. Origen maketh a question, how it could be said that there was none, neither among the Jews nor Gentiles, that did any good; seeing there were many among them which did clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and did other good things: he hereunto maketh this answer:—That like as one that layeth a foundation, and buildeth upon it a wall or two, yet cannot be said to have built a house till he have finished it; so although these might do some good things, yet they attained not unto perfect goodness, which was only to be found in Christ. But this is not the apostle’s meaning only to exclude men from the perfection of justice; for even the faithful and believers were short of that perfection which is required; he therefore showeth what men are by nature, all under sin and in the same state of damnation, without grace and faith in Christ: if any perform any good work, either it is of grace, and so not of themselves, or if they did it by the light of nature, they did it not as they ought, and so it was far from a good work indeed. Andrew Willet (1562-1621), on Romans 3:10.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Ver. 2-3. God’s search for a naturally good man; the result; lessons to be learned therefrom.

Total depravity of the race.
The Treasury of David.

Ver. 2-3. God’s search for a naturally good man; the result; lessons to be learned therefrom.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms

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