Psalms – Chapter 53

The Second Temple

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This Psalm (and the nearly identical Psalm 14) prophetically address the destruction of the Temple and subsequent exile. (This Psalm deals specifically with the second Temple, destroyed by Titus and the Romans.) The introduction to this version of the Psalm specifies that it is to be accompanied on an instrument called a machalas, which denotes tragedy.

David says that a base person thinks there is no G-d. Such people perpetrate acts of evil without fear of consequences. G-d looks down upon mankind to see if anyone is looking for Him. He sees these people (referring now to the Roman forces) have become totally corrupt. They’re devouring Israel as if the Jews were food. Ultimately, there will be a reckoning and the Romans will be terror-stricken, as G-d scatters the bones of the invaders. When G-d redeems Israel and returns the exiles, the Jewish people will rejoice.

A significant difference between this Psalm and Psalm 14 is that this Psalm frequently uses Elokim for the Name of G-d, where Psalm 14 uses Hashem (i.e., the Tetragrammaton). The Name used here represents the attribute of G-d’s judgment, as opposed to that in the earlier Psalm, which reflected the attribute of G-d’s mercy.

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