With most great literary works,
if they get published with two major sections the same,
the author, proofreader and publisher would
face much criticism for the gaffe.
So did somebody make a big mistake
for Psalms 13 & 53 to be almost identical?
The Bible is the timeless manual for human living. It claims that its every word is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16).
Noting that God purifies His words seven times (Psa. 12:6), the King James Bible translators commissioned six committees to each process a section and then selected the best representatives from those sections to make the final edit.
So did somebody make a big mistake that Psalms 14 and 53 are almost identical? Oh, there I go repeating myself.
It’s interesting that Internet analyses have surmised a few
1—David is credited with authoring both psalms, but they have different titles. Psalm 14 is “to the chief musician.” Psalm 53 is a maskil, the second of four psalms in a row to be an instructive psalm or a contemplation. The superscription “to Mahalath” is variously interpreted as to pipings on wind instruments or to dances/choreography.
Though both psalms have just about the same number of words and so many of the same words, it appears that they might have been sung in a different tune or style. Maybe like “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston vs. Dolly Parton. Both classics but very different renditions!
2—The midsection of Psalm 14 plays up God delivering the righteous; Psalm 53 God’s punishment of the wicked.
3—The name of God in Psalm 14 is YHVH (the Lord, the Eternal) while Psalm 53 cites Elohim (family God).
Hardly blockbuster differences!
It’s noted that the two psalms are in two different sections of the five sections of Psalms which at one time resided in separate sections or hymnals. So what’s wrong with wanting a beloved psalm to be handy in whichever you have in hand?
OK, I’m no Bible scholar, but my suspicion is that the biggest reason in God’s mind is:
Repetition is the best form of emphasis
If you want to impress on people how important the Ten Commandments are, proclaim them in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Jesus as the God of the Old Testament gave the same two great commandments (Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18) that He later repeated in the New Testament (Matt. 22:36-40).
A smart suspicion is that something said twice in God’s book must be important and deserves special attention.
Should that make us consider why God would repeat in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 about clean and unclean meats? They were to teach holiness (Lev. 11:44-45) and will that ever go out of style with God?
Both psalms begin with a hugely urgent and important issue:
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’”
Despite all the advanced philosophy degrees and heady arguments, those who say such things are judged by the Judge who counts as “fools.”
Let’s hope those who pronounce “God is dead” never become undertakers. Or astronomers. Or cosmologists. Because God through Paul wrote “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
I’m simple enough to simply not want God to call me a fool without excuse.
Yet for adult Americans, “atheist” or “agnostic” jumped from 16.1% in 2007 to 22.8% in 2014 (Pew Research May 12, 2015). How ironic and tragic that rejecting God is increasing with Millennials—even as the Millennium when Jesus Christ returns to earth looms ever nearer! Sadly, Satan will be given power to muster the recruits he needs who are foolish enough to fight the returning Son of God!
Could anything be more urgent and important than for us to
Prove for ourselves that God exists
The Faith Chapter says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is …” (Heb. 11:6).
How can we be a Christian without believing Jesus Christ is? A son or daughter of God without believing the Father is?
I recommend this free color booklet
Jesus said we must live by every word of God (Matt. 4:4). Even repeated ones. Great songs have great choruses. Whose permission does God need to publish a great psalm twice!
Let’s read Psalm 14 and respond. Let’s read Psalm 53 and respond!