Foolish Hearts, Faithful God

Psalm 14 begins with a very blunt statement: “The fool says in his heart there is no God.” Does that mean that all atheists are intellectually deficient? Absolutely not. Many of them are incredibly brilliant. But when the Bible speaks of being a fool, it’s speaking more about being morally deficient. This is a person who essentially has no place for God in their lives. They don’t want there to be a God because then they might have to change their lifestyle and believe the teachings of the Bible.

In the first three verses of Psalm 14 we find a rather morbid picture of this type of person, one who rules out even the possibility of there being a God. Verse one reads: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Those who choose to not believe in God are described as being “corrupt.” What does that mean? One commentator says that the word translated “corrupt” has the meaning of being like milk which sours and goes bad. These persons eventually degenerate into doing more and more evil. The psalmist goes on to say that, in fact, “There is no one who does good,” meaning that all of us have been corrupted by sin in some way and on some level.

Verse two parallels what God said when He looked down on human beings before the flood. “The Lord looked down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” The verdict is that all have sinned. All have fallen short. Verse three reiterates that: “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” That’s pretty hard for most people to swallow, especially in a day of self-proclaimed goodness and righteousness. We know we’re not perfect, but we’re as good as anyone else, right?

Verses four and five start out with a rather harsh question: “Do these (foolish) evildoers know nothing?” In a sense the psalmist is asking, “Haven’t they learned anything from observing the evidence for God in the world all around them? And haven’t they seen the results and devastation of a living in a world that is in rebellion to God? He lists three things that these evil ones do. First, they seek to “devour” (destroy) God’s people. Second, they never call on God or ask for his help (except perhaps from a foxhole). And third, they live in dread because they’ve realized that “God is present in the company of the righteous.” They fear death and even the thought of a coming Judgment Day.

Verse six brings some hope into the picture because we see that the Lord takes note of the poor who suffer at the hands of the unrighteous. They see that God cares for the downtrodden and has, in fact, become their refuge and hope.

In verse seven David calls out to the Lord for help and salvation. “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people,  let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” Zion is often a synonym for Jerusalem in the Bible. I believe this is also somewhat prophetic, in that Jerusalem was the place where Jesus died on the Cross, rose again from the dead, commissioned his disciples and where the Holy Spirit also came. We believe in God who not only revealed himself in Creation, but who also, in love and faithfulness, sent His Son to be our Savior. That’s something to be joyful about!

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church and Lemon Cove Community Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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