Psalm 53:5—Doesn’t this verse contradict itself?

Problem: The psalmist said, “they are in great fear where no fear was.” But how could they be in fear if there was no fear there?

Solution: The Bible critic here manifests two serious flaws—utter presumption that the biblical writer was so stupid as to contradict himself in the same sentence, and complete ignorance of the fact that the same word is often used in different senses, even in the same sentence. For example, “You know perfectly well that you do not know anything perfectly.” (See also comments on Prov. 26:4–5 and Phil. 3:15.) The meaning in this psalm is captured by the niv: “There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread.”

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.