The fault of sin. Another way we deal with sin so we can live with it and not feel too guilty is to minimize sin, thinking of sin as a weakness or imperfection perhaps but certainly not as a serious transgression that inevitably harms us and wounds others. It is evidence of our folly that we do this, but God is no fool and he “tells it like it is.”

The only significant variation in Psalm 53 is verse 5, which replaces verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 14. The earlier psalm seems to be addressing fools in Israel, saying, “There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.” The later psalm is addressing evildoers who have attacked Israel, presumably Gentiles, whom it refers to saying, “There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. God scattered the bones of those who attacked you, you put them to shame, for God despised them.”

For the first time in our study we have come to a psalm that is a very close repetition of one we have already examined. The repeated psalm is Psalm 14, appearing again as Psalm 53, except for a few minor changes and the last three lines of verse 5. This suggests two questions: Why is it repeated? and What can I say about the psalm the second time?

I wonder if you have been confronted by the power of that resurrection. The chief priests and Pharisees tried to secure their ecclesiastical world against Jesus. Saul tried to secure his religious traditions and life. Satan had been trying to secure his evil kingdom. Perhaps you too have been trying to secure your own way of doing things or your own values or your own mastery of your time. You have heard Christ's gospel, but you have tried to keep it politely in its place. Jesus is not that easily contained. You push him back, but he comes forward again. You banish him but he intrudes when you are least expecting it.

There was another character who got into the act. In fact, he had been leading the battle against the Lord Jesus Christ for centuries. His name is Satan. We see him first in the Garden of Eden, where he tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and thus participates in the ruin of the race. We see him in Egypt and in other nations as they persecuted God’s people, through whom the Messiah was to come. At last we see him waging war against the incarnate Jesus.