It is not always possible to trace a connection between psalms, but sometimes it is, and that is the case with Psalm 54 and those that surround it. Psalm 54 follows nicely upon Psalm 53. The earlier psalm was about people who act as if "there is no God,” the moral and spiritual "fools" of this world. In Psalm 54 the psalmist is surrounded by just such people. He speaks of them as "ruthless without regard for God" (v. 3). The earlier psalm ends with "the faith of the saints," that is, the faith of believers living in just such a world. Psalm 54 is by one of those saints, by David.

The fruit of sin. Sin destroys the one who pursues it, of course. But verse 4 also shows how it impacts others. The verse uses a simple image, describing evildoers as "those who devour my people as men eat bread." In the Middle East, as in the western world, bread is the most common of food staples. It is eaten regularly and with scarcely a thought. This seems to be how the psalmist regards evildoers as acting when they further their own interests. They devour the weak and poor in order that they might grow strong and rich themselves. What an apt description of our own "dog eat dog" world! We know people who function exactly like that. They don't care what happens to anyone else. Underneath the glamour, that is sin's true nature.

The folly of sin. This is utter folly, of course, the fourth of Henry's points. It is folly because God exists, whether we acknowledge him or not, and because it is certain that one day we will have to stand before him to give an accounting of every word we have spoken and every deed we have done. If you are a person who has been living as if there is no God, what do you suppose you will say to God on that day? What excuse will you make?

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.”