Read Psalm 14
For the director of music. Of David.
1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
In Psalm 14, the Psalmist is concerned with those around him who are living as if there is no God. They fail to acknowledge God. They ignore God. Some are even antagonistic toward those who trust in God. The author’s description of the dilemma facing God’s people is very much reflective of our own day. And his prayer at the close of this psalm is very instructive as we think through how best to respond to and engage the world around us.
As we look at the world around us, secularism is on the rise. More and more people in our country are stating they have no religious affiliation. Unbelief is on the rise. Likewise, the Psalmist states that all have turned away. The writer begins by declaring that one who states “There is no God” is a fool. While this might sound harsh, the Hebrew here is incredibly fascinating. The word used for fool is nabal, stemming from root meaning dying, fading, withering. It is related to the verb Isaiah uses in 40:8 where he says: “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” The fool denies the existence of God—but it is the existence of the fool that is fleeting. His life and accomplishments will fade away (like the grass and flower of the field). In the end, it is God that will endure.
The Psalmist continues with a common poetic device: compare and contrast. The Psalmist references back to the beginning of our study in the book of Psalms. If you recall, chapter 1 described the righteous person (those who believe and trust in God) like a tree planted by water that yields its fruit in season (Psalm 1:3). In contrast, the wicked (or the fool as seen in Psalm 14), were described as chaff that flew away with the wind (Psalm 1:4). In chapter 14, the Psalmist explains that despite the evildoer’s schemes, it is the poor who will find refuge in God—the great reversal!
Verse 7 represents a crucial turning point in the psalm. The Psalmist began with a meditation that quickly turned to a lament, but now is a petition, looking forward to a time of praise and rejoicing. The petition offered is for national renewal and restoration, but, in light of the New Covenant, we see just how God has brought about a greater salvation through the Lord Jesus. Though every human being is totally depraved and though no human being seeks after God, there is a God who overcomes our depravity and who seeks us out. God takes the initiative and comes and brings His salvation to us.
- In what ways have you denied the existence of God? Confess these things to your gracious, loving God.
- The Psalmist shows God identifies with the oppressed and marginalized. How does this affect how I interact and respond to the oppressed and marginalized? Do I interact with them now? Why not?
- The term “Zion” is used within Scripture for the “people of God.” What would it look like if salvation for the world came out of the people of God? What should our response be (individually and corporately)?
by the way
1 Samuel 25 tells the story of a rich man named Nabal, who was noted to be harsh and evil in his dealings with people (1 Samuel 25:3). When David had his men approach Nabal peacefully, asking for provisions, Nabal insulted them. David prepared to go to war with Nabal, but Nabal’s wife interceded, reminding David that her husband’s name was Nabal (fool) and that he lived up to his name. She persuaded David to spare Nabal, but “the Lord struck Nabal, and he died” (v. 38).