because he hath dealt bountifully with me; both in a way of providence and grace, granting life and preserving it, and supporting with the comforts of it; blessing with spiritual blessings, and crowning with loving kindness and tender mercies; all which is generous and bountiful dealing, and affords a just occasion of praise and thanksgiving; see Psalm 116:7.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 14
To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. The argument of this psalm, according to Theodoret, is Sennacherib's invasion of Judea, when he sent Rabshakeh to Hezekiah, with menaces and curses; upon which Hezekiah implored divine help, and obtained it, and the Assyrian army was destroyed by an angel; of all which he thinks this psalm was prophetic.
there is no God; though they do not express it with their mouths, yet they would fain persuade their hearts to deny the being of God; that so having no superior to whom they are accountable, they may go on in sin with impunity; however, to consider him as altogether such an one as themselves, and to remove such perfections from him, as may render him unworthy to be regarded by them; such as omniscience, omnipresence, &c. and to conceive of him as entirely negligent of and unconcerned about affairs of this lower world, having nothing to do with the government of it: and thus to deny his perfections and providence, is all one as to deny his existence, or that there is a God: accordingly the Targum paraphrases it,
"there is no "government" of God in the earth;''
so Kimchi interprets it,
"there is no governor, nor judge in the world, to render to man according to his works;''
they are corrupt; that is, everyone of these fools; and it is owing to the corruption of their hearts they say such things: they are corrupt in themselves; they have corrupt natures, they are born in sin, and of the flesh, and must be carnal and corrupt: or "they do corrupt", or "have corrupted" (z): they corrupt themselves by their atheistic thoughts and wicked practices, Jde 1:10; or their works, as the Chaldee paraphrase adds; or their ways, their manner and course of life, Genesis 6:12; and they corrupt others with their evil communications, their bad principles and practices, their ill examples and wicked lives;
they have done abominable works: every sinful action is abominable in the sight of God; but there are some sins more abominable than others; there are abominable idolatries, and abominable lusts, such as were committed in Sodom; and it may be these are pointed at here, and which are usually committed by such who like not to retain God in their knowledge; see Romans 1:24;
there is none that doeth good; anyone good work in a spiritual manner; not in faith, from love, in the name and strength of Christ, and with a view to the glory of God: nor can any man do a good work without the grace of God, and strength from Christ, and the assistance of the Spirit of God: hence, whatsoever a wicked man does, whether in a civil or in a religious way, is sin; see Proverbs 21:4. Arama takes these to be the words of the fool, or atheist, saying, there is no God that does good, like those in Zephaniah 1:12.
(y) Vid. Jarchi, Kimchi & Ben Melech in loc. (z) "corruperunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus; "corrumpunt", Junius & Tremellius; "corrumpunt se", Piscator.
to see if there were any that did understand: not things natural, civil, and moral, but things spiritual as the Apostle Paul interprets the words, Romans 3:11. For though man has not lost the natural faculty of his understanding, and may have an understanding of the things of nature, yet not of the things of God, until a supernatural light is put into him; not any spiritual experimental knowledge of God in Christ, nor of the way of salvation by Christ, nor of the work of the Spirit of God upon the heart, nor of the doctrines of the Gospel, nor any true sight and sense of his own state and condition;
and seek God; that is, "after God"; as the apostle in the same place explains it; after the knowledge of him and his ways, and communion with him; after the things of God, his interest and his glory: they do not seek after him in prayer, or by an attendance on his worship and ordinances; at least with their whole hearts, earnestly, diligently, constantly, and in the first place; nor do they seek after him in Christ, where he is only to be found; nor under the influence, and with the assistance of the blessed Spirit.
they are all together become filthy, or "stinking" (a), like putrid and corrupt flesh; see Psalm 38:5; and so "unprofitable", useless, and good for nothing, as the apostle renders it, Romans 3:12. Mankind are universally filthy and unclean; they are all of them defiled with sin, both in soul and body, in all the faculties of their souls and members of their bodies; and they are originally and naturally so; nor can anything cleanse them from their pollution but the blood of Christ;
there is none that doeth good, no, not one: this is repeated partly to asseverate more strongly the depravity of mankind, and partly to express the universality of it; that there is no exception to it in any that descend from Adam by ordinary generation. Here follows in the Septuagint version, according to the Vatican copy, all those passages quoted by the apostle, Romans 3:13; which have been generally supposed to have been taken from different parts of Scripture; so the Syriac scholiast says, in some ancient Greek copies are found eight more verses, and these are they, "Their throat", &c.
(a) "faetnerunt, putruerunt", Pagninus; "aut putruerunt", Vatabulus; "putidi vel foetidi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis.
who eat up my people as they eat bread: not David's people, but the Lord's people: see Psalm 14:2; whom he chose for his people, who were his covenant people, and who professed his name, and were called by it; these the workers of iniquity ate up, devoured, and consumed; see Jeremiah 10:25; by reproaching and persecuting them, doing injury to their persons, property, and character: they devoured their persons, by using them cruelly and putting them to death; they devoured their substance, by spoiling them of it, and converting it to their own use, as the Pharisees are said to devour widows' houses and they destroyed their good names and characters with their devouring words: and this they did with as much ease, delight, and pleasure, and without any remorse of conscience, and as constantly, as a man eats his bread. Or the words may be rendered, "they eat up my people, they eat bread"; that is, though they act such a wicked and cruel part, yet they have bread to eat, and fulness of it; they are not in straits, nor afflicted and punished; and because they are not, they are hardened in their impiety and iniquity: or "they eat bread", after they have persecuted and devoured the Lord's people, with peace of mind, without remorse of conscience, as if they had done no iniquity, like the adulterous woman in Proverbs 30:20;
and call not upon the Lord; or pray to him, or serve and worship him; for invocation includes the whole worship of God; and this they do not, though they know him, and are daily supplied by him, and eat his bread. Some read this clause with the former, "they eat bread, and call not on the Lord"; as if their sin was, that when they eat bread, they did not ask a blessing upon it, nor return thanks to God for it, which ought to be done; but the accent "athnach" under "bread", will not admit of this sense, though it seems to be countenanced by the Targum.
for God is in the generation of the righteous, or "of the righteous One" (b); which some understood of Jesus Christ the righteous: and though the age or generation in which he lived was a very wicked one, yet God was with him; as was seen by the doctrines he taught, and the miracles he wrought; and which filled the Jews with panic fears, lest the Romans should come and take away their place and nation: but rather this is to be understood of the generation of the saints, who are righteous through the righteousness of Christ, and have the new man in them, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, and live soberly and righteously; these are sometimes called the generation of the upright, and of the children of God, and of them that seek him, Psalm 112:2; in the midst of these God is, among them he affords his gracious presence, and is with them, for their help and assistance against their enemies: and as this makes them fearless of them, it fills their enemies with dread and terror; see Joshua 2:9. The Targum renders it,
"the Word of the Lord is in the generation of the righteous.''
(b) "justi", Montanus, Gejerus.
because the Lord is his refuge: he betakes himself to him when all others fail; and finds him to be a refuge from the storm of impending calamities, and from all enemies.