Psalm 53: A Psalm of Uncomfortableness

First Off…read Psalm 53!

“…there is no one who does good.” Ouch David! Way to start off the psalm on such a downer!

Not much is really known about this psalm, and why David essentially copies his already proclamation on “nobody is good” from Psalm 14 (you can find my blog on that here) nobody really knows. And if you’re anything like me when you read this psalm you’re probably smacked upside the head and slightly depressed.

Let’s take a look at all the “non-positive” things David has to say:

  • Nobody does good (vs 1)
  • Nobody understands (vs 2)
  • Nobody seeks God (vs 2)
  • Everyone has turned away from God (vs 3)
  • All men (and women) are corrupt (vs 3)
  • Nobody does good (yeah…we already got that David from vs 1 – but thanks for telling us again here in vs 3)
  • Evil-doers never learn (vs 4) – which is you and me and all other people
  • We drum up dread (vs 5)

So much…non joyousness! What this all means is that the entire human race, all of humanity since the fall…is corrupt, hateful, and evil. There are no “if’s, and’s, or but’s” here. It’s almost as if David is being given an opportunity to see humanity through God’s eyes. To look upon the people of earth and see just how vile and self-loving we are. Obviously this is something David recognizes in himself as well.

That’s a really interesting place to look. It’s this “outer/inner introspection” that tethers you to every other person on God’s green earth…and when you think about it – that kind of stings. You see the person who lies and no longer can see someone who is vastly different than you. You see the person who battles addiction (whether it be drugs, sexual, or anything else) and no longer can you place them opposite you.

Think of the worst person you’ve ever seen or met…you are no different. The sins they commit make them no worse than you. The sins you commit make you no better than them. Now let that sink in. Yeah. You either are ready to argue against me and make a case for YOUR “goodness” and “righteousness” – or you are shifting in your seat because you understand the full magnitude and reality of it.

Every action we do that goes against God’s will and desire for us declares that “there is no God.” Why/How? Because you are seeking your own will, your own love, your own desires and placing them above God – thus you are declaring “there is no God.” If this wasn’t so then we wouldn’t have texts like Gen 6:5; 8:21; Isa 53:6; and John 3:3-5.

Nobody does good. We do parts of goodness. There are things we do that give hope of goodness – but we are so riddled with sin and corruption that so much of what we do overshadows and taints even the best of intentions and actions. (Rom 3:23)

Everyone has turned away from God. On our own – we cannot seek God. But because of the Holy Spirit we are able to seek and turn to him. While this is beautiful and good…we must understand that on our own…we simply cannot seek and turn to God. (Rom 3:12)

For some reason you and I have amnesia and never seem to learn from our mistakes, our sins, our corrupt hearts, and our desires to keep doing what WE want. The reason? Because we are full of sin. David sees it, God sees it, and WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE IT TOO. But as David is looking down (just as God has looked down), he sees a glimpse of the glory to come: The restoration of God’s people.

For all the uncomfortableness Psalm 53 and 14 give us we must hold to the hope that is declared and given. That even though we stink about being godly men and women…our sins will not have the final say. That even though sin has tainted every area of our lives God redeems and gives salvation, thus restoring his people (1 Cor 1:30). And not because we’re good enough and deserving of it but simply because God loves.

I think the beauty I find about his psalm is that it puts me in my place. I think the worst thing we can do is try to rank people and their sins. The worst thing we can do is put ourselves or others in some type of an “order” of sins or even try to convince ourselves that we’re “good enough” for God’s love and grace. But it doesn’t work that way. What this psalm does for me is give me space to reflect on Judas and what he did to Christ. His betrayal, for many, is “unforgiveable” and even “un-graceable” (not a word…but you get it). But where I consistently find myself, when it comes to Judas and his actions, is that I am overcome with grief, pain, anger, compassion, and hope – for even Judas’ sins are atoneable.

If the God of love, grace, and mercy can find it in his heart to look past my sins – then why not Judas’?

4 thoughts on “Psalm 53: A Psalm of Uncomfortableness

  1. John 17 speaks of Judas being the “son of destruction ” that the scriptures might be fulfilled. I see Judas as someone God used to accomplish his will. Just like Pharoah and many in the Bible. God says, Jacob I loved but Esau I hated. We don’t understand why and honestly I have always felt a little bit sorry for him but like all of us he had a choice, he regretted the choice but he still made it. Just some thoughts.

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    1. Thank you Mary! And you are absolutely right – Judas had a choice and he made it…and he had to live with it too. Obvoiusly it was something that was too burdensome for him in the end…something he regretted. And I agree that God used Judas to carry out his will – which is why there HAD to be a Judas. If not Judas…it would have been someone else BECAUSE exactly what you speak of: God’s will must be carried out.

      For me there has to be some room for conversation there. BECAUSE it was God’s will for this to happen there HAD to be a Judas. I think when we reflect on that we allow room at the table for good conversation about forgiveness, grace, and God’s redemptive plan through Christ.

      I highly recommend the book, “The Gospel According to Judas” by Ray S. Anderson. It is a wonderful “hypothetical” walk through concerning forgiveness, and even more…grace that is based off of scripture. One of my favorite books of all time.

      Thanks again Mary!

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