To the choirmaster leader, according to Mahalath, a Maskil of David
“Fools say in their hearts.
‘There is no God.’
They are corrupt.
They commit abominable acts.
There is no one who does good.”
Psalm 53 is another short psalm, much like Psalm 14. At times, they are almost word for word the same. This title has the choirmaster leader, a maskil or song of David, but there is an additional comment about “according to Mahalath,” which is also mentioned at the beginning of Psalm 88. Although of uncertain meaning, Mahalath was the name of a wife of Esau and Rehoboam, here it probably refers to some kind of stringed instrument like a guitar. This first verse is exactly the same as the first verse of Psalm 14. Once again the question is posed what if there is no God. The answer was simple. Only a fool would say such a thing. There was an ancient common belief in some kind of higher power. Actually they only say this in their hearts that there is no God, since they are practical atheists. They act as if there is no God. They are the corrupt people who do terrible deeds. None of them do good deeds.
“King Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath daughter of Jerimoth the son of King David and Abihail daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. She bore him sons, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. After her he took Maacah daughter of Absalom, who bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. King Rehoboam loved Maacah daughter of Absalom more than all his other wives and concubines. He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines. He became the father of twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. King Rehoboam appointed Abijah son of Maacah as chief prince among his brothers. He intended to make him king. He dealt wisely. He distributed some of his sons through all the districts of Judah and Benjamin, in all the fortified cities. He gave them abundant provisions. He also found many wives for them.”
There is an allusion to 1 Kings, chapter 11, about King Solomon that is projected on to his son King Rehoboam. However, he never attained the high numbers of his father. He only had 18, not 700, wives and only 60, not 300, concubines. Even these numbers seem high, but more realistic than those of his father. He was a wise ruler and put his sons and plenty of provisions in all the fortified cities. He married the daughter of King David’s son Jerimoth. Thus Mahalath was the granddaughter of King David just as King Rehoboam was the grandson of King David, so that they were first cousins. King Rehoboam also married Abihail, who was the daughter of David’s brother Eliab. She would have been a first cousin of King Solomon, the son of King David. Very little is known about the 3 sons of Rehoboam, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham, except their listing here. It is not even clear whether Mahalath or Abihail was their mother. The favorite wife of King Rehoboam was Maacah. She was listed as the daughter of Absalom, the son of David, thus another first cousin. In 1 Kings, chapter 15, Maacah’s father is called Abishalom. However, Absalom’s mother was named also named Maacah in 2 Samuel, chapter 3, so that calling his daughter this name does not seem out of place. Maacah too was a granddaughter of King David. Thus King Rehoboam, the grandson of King David married 3 granddaughters of King David. One of Maacah’s 4 sons became important, Abijah, who became the next king. The other 3 sons Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith are just mentioned here.
“Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he charged him, ‘You shall not marry one of the Canaanite women.’ Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, sister of Nebaioth to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.”
Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to find a wife that was not a Canaanite. Esau then took Mahalath as his wife, in addition to his other two wives. She was Abraham’s half brother Ishmael’s daughter, his first cousin, and the sister of Nebaioth of Edom. Thus he was trying to keep his marriage within the family, only it is with Ishmael’s family.