To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3 They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call on the Lord?
5 There they are in great fear,
For God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You shame the counsel of the poor,
But the Lord is his refuge.
7 Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
Very similar to Psalm 53.
For the heading, see notes on Psalms 3 and 4.
As with the preceding four psalms, Williams sees this as having an application during the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ.
Though the focus of the psalm is on the lack of faith of the Gentile nations in and around Canaan and their opposition to the God of Israel and His people (see especially verses 4-7), phraseological similarities between verses 1-3 and other Old Testament passages, as well as the citation of these verses in Romans 3:10-12, indicate that the indictment for lack of faith (= folly, biblically defined) applies in principle to “both Jew and Gentiles.” — Wechsler, page 52
fool (v.1) = one with a withered intellect — In Scripture, it refers to the wicked who aggressively and intentionally boast of their independence from God and His commandments, who deny His existence or deny the existence of divine justice.
abominable (v.1) = abhorred, detested
looks down (v.2) — referring to God’s assessment of the heart of men
That this passage is applied to Jews as well as Gentiles is shown by the use of the same phrases in other passages applying directly to Israel. For example, “they have become corrupt” (Deuteronomy 31:29); “they have turned aside” (Isaiah 1:23).
there (v.5) = at that time
David here concludes by focusing on the object of faith for the righteous among his people (vs.4-5) — to wit: the future and final salvation of Israel, when God restores the fortunes of His people and makes them what they were always intended to be: “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), redeemed, righteous, and at rest. — Wechsler, page 54.
I think what the psalmist is getting at here is that those who deny God’s existence (fools), or deny that He is concerned over the fate of men or deny that He will judge them will be very afraid when the day of God’s judgment comes. They claim to live apart from God, but when Jesus Christ returns, they will have no doubt about who He is or what their fate will be. The righteous, in the meantime, are suffering persecution but they can be assured that God will keep His promises and bring salvation from trouble and eternal rest.