Psalms 14
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1  For the leader. Of David. The benighted man thinks, “Hashem does not care.” Man’s deeds are corrupt and loathsome; no one does good.

lam-na-TZAY-akh l’-da-VID a-MAR na-VAL b’-li-BO AYN e-lo-HEEM hish-KHEE-tu hit-EE-vu a-lee-LAH AYN o-SAY TOV

א  לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְדָוִד אָמַר נָבָל בְּלִבּוֹ אֵין אֱלֹהִים הִשְׁחִיתוּ הִתְעִיבוּ עֲלִילָה אֵין עֹשֵׂה־טוֹב׃

 14:1   The benighted man thinks

The psalmist paints a dim picture of humanity with corruption in command and desire reigning. Hashem peers from the heavens and wonders if any people still contemplate and seek the Creator. The Hebrew word for ‘benighted’ used in this verse is naval (נבל), which means ‘foolish’ or ‘senseless.’ It is also the name of the infamous wicked man described in Sefer Shmuel I 25. David encounters Naval, who lives only to please his desires and spares nobody his evil plans. He is indeed a fool, corrupt, immoral and unjust, and is ultimately condemned by his own hubris. His wife Avigail, however, acts with kindness and love. David sees redemption in Avigail and eventually, after Naval’s death, makes her his wife. The psalm concludes with the hope of the ultimate redemption, as the salvation of Israel will come when the nation of God returns to the land. Then, Yaakov will rejoice, Israel will be happy (verse 7).3 comments

2  Hashem looks down from heaven on mankind to find a man of understanding, a man mindful of Hashem.

ב  יְהֹוָה מִשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁקִיף עַל־בְּנֵי־אָדָם לִרְאוֹת הֲיֵשׁ מַשְׂכִּיל דֹּרֵשׁ אֶת־אֱלֹהִים׃

3  All have turned bad, altogether foul; there is none who does good, not even one.

ג  הַכֹּל סָר יַחְדָּו נֶאֱלָחוּ אֵין עֹשֵׂה־טוֹב אֵין גַּם־אֶחָד׃

4  Are they so witless, all those evildoers, who devour my people as they devour food, and do not invoke Hashem?

ד  הֲלֹא יָדְעוּ כָּל־פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן אֹכְלֵי עַמִּי אָכְלוּ לֶחֶם יְהֹוָה לֹא קָרָאוּ׃

5  There they will be seized with fright, for Hashem is present in the circle of the righteous.

ה  שָׁם פָּחֲדוּ פָחַד כִּי־אֱלֹהִים בְּדוֹר צַדִּיק׃

6  You may set at naught the counsel of the lowly, but Hashem is his refuge.

ו  עֲצַת־עָנִי תָבִישׁוּ כִּי יְהֹוָה מַחְסֵהוּ׃

7  O that the deliverance of Yisrael might come from Tzion! When Hashem restores the fortunes of His people, Yaakov will exult, Yisrael will rejoice.

ז  מִי יִתֵּן מִצִּיּוֹן יְשׁוּעַת יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּשׁוּב יְהֹוָה שְׁבוּת עַמּוֹ יָגֵל יַעֲקֹב יִשְׂמַח יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

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Psalms 13
Psalms 15

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  • Someone put up a billboard which quoted the first verse of Psalm 14: "The fool says in his heart: 'There is no God'."

    A passer-by found the message on the board so offensive that he submitted a complaint, saying that the board implied that atheists were stupid. He did not believe in the existence of God but he did not consider himself to be "foolish" or "stupid".

    The fact that he was a pilot proves that the passer-by was not dumb. However, a few classes in logic could have helped him interpret the sentence properly. The quoted sentence does not imply that atheists are fools, but the converse, namely that fools are atheists. Therefore only someone claiming to be a fool but not an atheist would have a valid reason to complain about the billboard.

    Actually the sentence on the billboard does not do justice to Psalm 14:1 as it was written in Hebrew. It could be translated into English to read "the fool says in his heart no god". The original language had no upper case letters or punctuation marks. The intended meaning could have been: "The fool says in his heart 'God, I say no to you'."

    Whichever translation is accepted as correct, the verse describes character traits of a fool, not an atheist. The Bible ignores atheists, treating them as if they did not exist

Psalms 14

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