Psalm 14

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 11, 2019 1 comments

by Katie Erickson

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord. But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
” (Psalm 14)

I’ve seen Psalm 14:1 quoted many times and in many contexts, so that’s one of the reasons I chose this psalm to cover in a blog post. Often, this verse is quoted referring to atheists or those who don’t believe in God, but is that what it really means?

The word translated as “fool” is nabal in the Hebrew, which according to Mounce’s dictionary means “foolish, lacking understanding, fool; often pertaining to insolence, pride, and disobedience to God.” The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew lexicon gives the meaning specifically in this verse as “denying God.” This fool is one who does not acknowledge God; this can mean denying God’s entire existence, or just denying God’s importance in his or her life. Atheists would fall into this category, as would anyone who does not acknowledge God working in their lives.

The second half of verse 1 goes on to describe this fool even more: they are corrupt, do vile deeds, and are not good. This “fool” is generally a wicked person who goes against God and His ways, having no regard for the judgment that will be coming. This person is without God in their lives, not caring about God’s standards and laws to treat one another with respect and love. The psalmist is showing us, just in this one verse, the total depravity of mankind and our natural inclination to do evil rather than good.

After that dismal start to the psalm, it can only get better, right? Next, in verses 2-3, we see God’s perspective of this. God is involved in His creation and He sees what His creation is doing. God is looking for anyone who desires to seek Him rather than their own evil ways. God is looking for those who are the opposite of the fool, those who truly want to know Him and follow Him (verse 2).

But, sadly, God sees that all have turned away from Him, and again there are none who do good (verse 3). The repetition of all, no one, and not even one show us the totality of that - there is not one single person who does good and follows God.

If that sounds familiar to you from the New Testament, that’s because the apostle Paul actually quoted Psalm 14:1-3 in Romans 3:10-12 (read this for more on the context of that passage). This idea that all people are sinful is foundational to the need for a savior. If we could save ourselves, we wouldn’t need Jesus, His perfect life, or His sacrificial death on the cross for us. When we realize that every last person, even those who may appear to be “good” to us, is truly sinful and in need of a savior, then we can acknowledge and accept on faith what Jesus did for us. The psalmist would not have known Jesus by name, but he knew that all people are sinful and cannot save ourselves, and he would have had faith in the promised Savior that would come.

We see more about those who do evil in verses 4-6. Because these fools care nothing for God, they also care nothing for God’s people. The fools do not acknowledge God, and they only do evil toward God’s people, the righteous ones. But even in spite of all that evil and disrespect, God is still the refuge of His people.

This psalm concludes in verse 7 with the hope that God’s people have in salvation. Since this psalm was written hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, they had faith in God’s promise of a Savior who would come and rescue them from these evil fools. The psalmist is looking forward to that time when God would restore His people. In a short-term context, this may refer to when the people of Israel got to go back to their land after their exile in Babylon and were able to rebuild it. But looking long-term, this refers to the salvation that everyone will receive through faith in the saving work of Jesus on the cross.

Do you feel like you’re surrounded by fools and those who do evil? While this psalm was written to the people of Israel thousands of years ago, it also rings true for us today. Society seems to keep getting more and more evil, with more and more people disregarding God and His ways and doing evil toward God’s people.

But while the negative part of this psalm still rings true today, so does the hope we have in God’s salvation! Rather than looking forward to a promised Savior, we can know with certainty that Jesus is that Savior. He came, He lived a perfect life, He died on the cross, and He was raised to life again, and when we believe that in our hearts through faith, we have the assurance of our salvation, no matter what is going on in the world around us.

Like Katie’s writings? You can purchase her book What the Bible Says About... here!

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Chad Koons said...

Excellent insight. Thanks, Katie!