This evening my catechism students and I looked closely at Pss 14 & 53. A question worth asking is, why did the Holy Spirit use up two spots in the canon of 150 Psalms to breathe out two nearly identical ones? At verses 4 & 5 of the Psalms there are some differences, but the most notable difference is the use of names for the Lord God. Both Psalms refer to God seven times, but whereas Psalm 14 alternates between “LORD” and “God,” Psalm 53 uses only “God.” Behind LORD is the personal and covenantal name YHWH, the name for God given to and owned by the covenant community.
Psalm 14 is about “the fool” in the covenant community who has begun to deny the existence of God. This brother or sister has exchanged godliness for corruption and for that which is vile. The LORD looks down from heaven and shakes his head at the fool who becomes a covenant breaker.
By the time we get to Psalm 53, the name LORD is no longer in the picture in the thinking of “the fool.” He has drifted so far from the ways of the covenant LORD that only the most common, almost generic, name for the deity can be used. By this time the fool is not only denying the covenant claims of the LORD; in his rebellious madness he is denying the existence of God.
May God have mercy on those who abandon the covenant claims of God and end up in unbelief.