Psalm 14:2
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
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(2) Looked down.—Literally, bent forward to look as from a window. (Comp. Song of Solomon 6:10.)

Did understand.—Better, any man of understanding, in contrast with “fool,” in Psalm 14:1, and certainly meaning one who regulates his conduct on the conviction of the existence of a holy and just God.

Psalm 14:2. The Lord looked down from heaven — God knows all things without any inquiry: but he speaks after the manner of men. Upon the children of men — Upon the whole Israelitish nation, and upon all mankind; for he speaks of all except his people, and the righteous ones, who are opposed to these, Psalm 14:4-5. If there were any that did understand, &c. — That did truly know God, namely, so as to fear, love, trust in, and obey him, (all which particulars are frequently included in the Scriptures, under the expression of knowing God,) and seek God — Did diligently endeavour to learn his mind and will, that they might do it, and to seek his grace and favour.

14:1-7 A description of the depravity of human nature, and the deplorable corruption of a great part of mankind. - The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. The sinner here described is an atheist, one that saith there is no Judge or Governor of the world, no Providence ruling over the affairs of men. He says this in his heart. He cannot satisfy himself that there is none, but wishes there were none, and pleases himself that it is possible there may be none; he is willing to think there is none. This sinner is a fool; he is simple and unwise, and this is evidence of it: he is wicked and profane, and this is the cause. The word of God is a discerner of these thoughts. No man will say, There is no God, till he is so hardened in sin, that it is become his interest that there should be none to call him to an account. The disease of sin has infected the whole race of mankind. They are all gone aside, there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Whatever good is in any of the children of men, or is done by them, it is not of themselves, it is God's work in them. They are gone aside from the right way of their duty, the way that leads to happiness, and are turned into the paths of the destroyer. Let us lament the corruption of our nature, and see what need we have of the grace of God: let us not marvel that we are told we must be born again. And we must not rest in any thing short of union with Christ, and a new creation to holiness by his Spirit. The psalmist endeavours to convince sinners of the evil and danger of their way, while they think themselves very wise, and good, and safe. Their wickedness is described. Those that care not for God's people, for God's poor, care not for God himself. People run into all manner of wickedness, because they do not call upon God for his grace. What good can be expected from those that live without prayer? But those that will not fear God, may be made to fear at the shaking of a leaf. All our knowledge of the depravity of human nature should endear to us salvation out of Zion. But in heaven alone shall the whole company of the redeemed rejoice fully, and for evermore. The world is bad; oh that the Messiah would come and change its character! There is universal corruption; oh for the times of reformation! The triumphs of Zion's King will be the joys of Zion's children. The second coming of Christ, finally to do away the dominion of sin and Satan, will be the completing of this salvation, which is the hope, and will be the joy of every Israelite indeed. With this assurance we should comfort ourselves and one another, under the sins of sinners and sufferings of saints.The Lord looked down from heaven - The original word here - שׁקף shâqaph - conveys the idea of "bending forward," and hence, of an intense and anxious looking, as we bend forward when we wish to examine anything with attention, or when we look out for one who is expected to come. The idea is that God looked intently, or so as to secure a close examination, upon the children of men, for the express purpose of ascertaining whether there were any that were good. He looked at all men; he examined all their pretensions to goodness, and he saw none who could be regarded as exempt from the charge of depravity. Nothing could more clearly prove the doctrine of universal depravity than to say that an Omniscient God made "an express examination" on this very point, that he looked over all the world, and that in the multitudes which passed under the notice of his eye not "one" could be found who could be pronounced righteous. If God could not find such an one, assuredly man cannot.

Upon the children of men - Upon mankind; upon the human race. They are called "children," or "sons" (Hebrew), because they are all the descendants of the man that God created - of Adam. Indeed the original word here is "Adam" - אדם 'âdâm. And it may be questionable whether, since this became in fact a proper name, designating the first man, it would not have been proper to retain the idea in the translation - "the sons of Adam;" that is, all his descendants. The phrase occurs frequently to denote the human race, Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalm 11:4; Psalm 21:10; Psalm 31:19; Psalm 36:7; Psalm 57:4; et soepe.

To see if there were any that did understand - If there were one acting wisely - to wit, in seeking God. "Acting wisely" here stands in contrast with the folly referred to in the first verse. Religion is always represented in the Scriptures as true wisdom.

And seek God - The knowledge of him; his favor and friendship. Wisdom is shown by a "desire" to become acquainted with the being and perfections of God, as well as in the actual possession of that knowledge; and in no way can the true character of man be better determined than by the actual interest which is felt in becoming acquainted with the character of him who made and who governs the universe. It is one of the clearest proofs of human depravity that there is no prevailing desire among people thus to ascertain the character of God.

2. looked—in earnest enquiry.

understand—as opposed to "fool" [Ps 14:1].

2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one

"The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men." As from a watchtower, or other elevated place of observation, the Lord is represented as gazing intently upon men. He will not punish blindly, nor like a tyrant command an indiscriminate massacre because a rumour of rebellion has come up to his ears. What condescending interest and impartial justice are here imagined! The case of Sodom, visited before it was overthrown, illustrates the careful manner in which Divine Justice beholds the sin before it avenges it, and searches out the righteous that they perish not with the guilty. Behold then the eyes of Omniscience ransacking the globe, and prying among every people and nation, "to see if there were any that did understand and seek God." He who is looking down knows the good, is quick to discern it, would be delighted to find it; but as he views all the unregenerate children of men his search is fruitless, for of all the race of Adam, no unrenewed soul is other than an enemy to God and goodness. The objects of the Lord's search are not wealthy men, great men, or learned men; these, with all they can offer, cannot meet the demands of the great Governor: at the same time, he is not looking for superlative eminence in virtue, he seeks for any that understand themselves, their state, their duty, their destiny, their happiness; he looks for any that seek God, who, if there be a God, are willing and anxious to find him out. Surely this is not too great a matter to expect; for if men have not yet known God, if they have any right understanding, they will seek him. Alas! even this low degree of good is not to be found even by him who sees all things; but men love the hideous negation of "No God," and with their backs to their Creator, who is the sun of their life, they journey into the dreary region of unbelief and alienation, which is a land of darkness as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death without any order and where the light is as darkness.

"They are all gone aside." Without exception, all men have apostatized from the Lord their Maker, from his laws, and from the eternal principles of right. Like stubborn heifers they have sturdily refused to receive the yoke, like errant sheep they have found a gap and left the right field. The original speaks of the race as a whole, as a totality; and humanity as a whole has become depraved in heart and defiled in life. "They have altogether become filthy;" as a whole they are spoiled and soured like corrupt leaven, or, as some put it, they have become putrid and even stinking. The only reason why we do not more clearly see this foulness is because we are accustomed to it, just as those who work daily among offensive odours at last cease to smell them. The miller does not observe the noise of his own mill, and we are slow to discover our own ruin and depravity. But are there no special cases, are all men sinful? "Yes," says the Psalmist, in a manner not to be mistaken, "they are." He has put it positively, he repeats it negatively, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one." The Hebrew phrase is an utter denial concerning any mere man that he of himself doeth good. What can be more sweeping? This is the verdict of the all-seeing Jehovah, who cannot exaggerate or mistake. As if no hope of finding a solitary specimen of a good man among the unrenewed human family might be harboured for an instant. The Holy Spirit is not content with saying all and altogether, but adds the crushing threefold negative, "none, no, not one." What say the opponents to the doctrine of natural depravity to this? Rather what do we feel concerning it? Do we not confess that we by nature are corrupt, and do we not bless the sovereign grace which has renewed us in the spirit of our minds, that sin may no more have dominion over us, but that grace may rule and reign?

The Lord looked down from heaven, to search out the truth. God knoweth all things without any inquiry; but this is a figure called anthropopathia, whereby Scripture oft speaks of God after the manner of men.

Upon the children of men; upon the whole body of the Israelitish nation, and upon the generality of mankind under heaven; for he speaks of all except his people, and the righteous ones, who are here opposed to these, Psalm 14:4,5.

That did understand, and seek God; that did truly know God, to wit, so as to love, and fear, and trust, and obey him, (for all these are frequently signified in Scripture by this expression of knowing God) and that did diligently seek him, i.e. study his mind and will, that they might do it, and seek his grace and favour.

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men,.... As he did when all flesh had corrupted its way, and before he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly, Genesis 6:12. This is said in direct opposition to the atheistic thoughts and reasonings of wicked men, in Psalm 14:1. There is a God, and he takes notice of the children of men, and of what is done by them; though his throne is in the heavens, and his dwelling there, yet he looks down from thence, and takes cognizance of all human affairs. This must be understood consistent with the omniscience and omnipresence of God; it is an anthropopathy, or a speaking after the manner of men; and denotes the exact notice which God takes, and distinct observation he makes, and the perfect and accurate knowledge he has of men and their actions; see Genesis 11:5;

to see if there were any that did understand: not things natural, civil, and moral, but things spiritual as the Apostle Paul interprets the words, Romans 3:11. For though man has not lost the natural faculty of his understanding, and may have an understanding of the things of nature, yet not of the things of God, until a supernatural light is put into him; not any spiritual experimental knowledge of God in Christ, nor of the way of salvation by Christ, nor of the work of the Spirit of God upon the heart, nor of the doctrines of the Gospel, nor any true sight and sense of his own state and condition;

and seek God; that is, "after God"; as the apostle in the same place explains it; after the knowledge of him and his ways, and communion with him; after the things of God, his interest and his glory: they do not seek after him in prayer, or by an attendance on his worship and ordinances; at least with their whole hearts, earnestly, diligently, constantly, and in the first place; nor do they seek after him in Christ, where he is only to be found; nor under the influence, and with the assistance of the blessed Spirit.

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
2. For a while Jehovah as it were overlooked the growing corruption. At length He ‘looked down’ (Psalm 33:13-14). So in the yet simpler language of the Pentateuch He is said to have ‘come down to see’ the wickedness of Babel and Sodom (Genesis 11:5; Genesis 18:21; and note the use of ‘look down’ in the latter narrative though in a different connexion, Psalm 18:16). Are not these typical examples of human corruption in the Psalmist’s mind? ‘Jehovah looked down … to see if there were any that did understand (or deal wisely, R.V. marg., for the verb often denotes right action as well as right purpose), that did seek God.’ Cp. Psalm 9:10. The use of God, not Jehovah, is significant. It is of mankind in general, not of Israel, that the Psalmist is speaking. God made Himself known through the voice of conscience, and in the works of creation, but men would not follow the light of conscience, or read the book of nature. See Acts 14:17; Acts 17:27; Romans 1:19 ff.

Verse 2 - The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men. Corruption having reached such a height as it had, God, is represented as looking down from heaven with a special object - to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. To see, i.e., if among the crowd of the "abominable" doers spoken of in ver. 1 there were any of a better spirit, and possessed of understanding, and willing to seek after God. But it was in vain. The result of his scrutiny appears in the next verse. Psalm 14:2The second tristich appeals to the infallible decision of God Himself. The verb השׁקיף means to look forth, by bending one's self forward. It is the proper word for looking out of a window, 2 Kings 9:30 (cf. Niph. Judges 5:28, and frequently), and for God's looking down from heaven upon the earth, Psalm 102:20, and frequently; and it is cognate and synonymous with השׁגּיח, Psalm 33:13, Psalm 33:14; cf. moreover, Sol 2:9. The perf. is used in the sense of the perfect only insofar as the divine survey is antecedent to its result as given in Psalm 14:3. Just as השׁהיתוּ reminds one of the history of the Flood, so does לראות of the history of the building of the tower of Babel, Genesis 11:5, cf. Psalm 18:21. God's judgment rests upon a knowledge of the matter of fact, which is represented in such passages after the manner of men. God's all-seeing, all-piercing eyes scrutinise the whole human race. Is there one who shows discernment in thought and act, one to whom fellowship with God is the highest good, and consequently that after which he strives? - this is God's question, and He delights in such persons, and certainly none such would escape His longing search. On את־אלהים, τὸν Θεόν, vid., Ges. 117, 2.
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