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The Wickedness of the World

For the Pure and Shining One

A contemplative song of instruction To the tune of “The Dancings of Mourning”[a]

53 Only the withering soul[b] would say to himself,
    “There’s no God for me!”
    Anyone who thinks like that is corrupt and callous;
    depraved and detestable, they are devoid of what is good.
The Lord looks down in love, bending over heaven’s balcony.
    God looks over all of Adam’s sons and daughters,
    looking to see if there are any who are wise with insight—
    any who search for him, wanting to please him.
But no, all have wandered astray, walking stubbornly toward evil.
    Not one is good; he can’t even find one!
Look how they live in luxury while exploiting my people.
    Won’t these workers of wickedness ever learn!
    They never even think of praying to God.
Soon, unheard-of terror will seize them while in their sins.
    God himself will one day scatter the bones
    of those who rose up against you.[c]
    Doomed and rejected, they will be put to shame,
    for God has despised them.
Oh, I wish our time of rescue were already here.
    Oh, that God would come forth now[d]
    arising from the midst of his Zion-people
    to save and restore his very own.
    When God fully restores his people,
    Jacob will rejoice, and Israel will be filled with gladness!


  1. 53 Or “The Dance of Mourning.” This could have been a footnote to Ps. 52 instead of an inscription for Ps. 53. If so, read Ps. 52 and imagine the dancing that broke loose when David and his mighty men knew that Doeg had been judged by God for his murderous betrayal.
  2. 53:1 The word often translated as “fool” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “withering.” If we make no room for God, we have withered hearts (or souls), our moral sense of righteousness is put to sleep, and the noble aspirations of the heart shrivel up and die. Ps. 53 clearly speaks of the downfall of those who oppose Israel. Ps. 14 and Ps. 53 are very similar psalms. Ps. 14 deals with God’s verdict, while Ps. 53 speaks of God’s vengeance. If God says it once, it is to believed. If he says it twice, it demands our utmost attention!
  3. 53:5 This could refer to the scattering of the armies of Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah. See 2 Kings 18–19.
  4. 53:6 This is considered to be an ecphonesis, a rhetorical literary device that amplifies the emotion of the text. It is equivalent to an emotional outburst. Clearly, this is a passionate psalm.

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