Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
Jesus once told a story about a rich farmer whom God blessed with abundant harvests. He kept storing his surplus crops so that he could relax and indulge himself. Jesus concluded: ″But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you'″ (Luke 12:20). This man was foolish because he didn't fear God and the coming judgment, and didn't use his wealth to care for those in need (see v. 33).
We meet the same kind of fool in Psalm 14. In the Bible, folly is both intellectual and practical. It's expressed in how we think and how we live. David goes on to describe such people as ″corrupt, their deeds are vile″ (v. 1). As in many of his other psalms, he is describing the wicked in Israel who oppress God's people. ″They devour my people as though eating bread . . . evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge″ (vv. 4, 6, emphasis added).
You see, folly of the heart is often expressed by wickedness in action. The fool says: ″There is no God″ (v. 1). This doesn't mean the fool is an atheist. He believes in God, but lives as if He weren't there.
Sadly, there are people in the church who are like this. They may recite a creed and sing songs of praise, but in their everyday life they are practical atheists. The fact that God ″looks down from heaven″ (v. 2) and will judge them one day never enters their thinking and, therefore, never affects how they live.
There is, however, a group of people who have called upon the Lord and look to Him for refuge. He is ″present in [their] company″ (v. 5) and will deliver them one day. The psalm ends with David looking forward to that day when there'll be ″salvation for Israel″ from Zion (v. 7). David never lived to see that day, but we have. And David could never have imagined how God would bring salvation to the entire world through His own descendant, the Lord Jesus.
Paul quotes Psalm 14:1-3 in Romans 3:11-12 to demonstrate that ″all have turned away″. He then reminds us that God has brought salvation through the atoning death of Jesus. By this salvation-even greater than the one David had hoped for-the Lord has destroyed all our enemies and given His people an eternal restoration and inexpressible joy (Psalm 14:7).
Paul says this of humanity: ″Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools″ (Romans 1:22). What evidence of this foolishness does he give (vv. 23-32)? What similarities can you see between this passage and Psalm 14?
″There is no one who does good, not even one″ (Psalm 14:3). Of course, we all know good people who aren't Christians, and bad people who are capable of some good deeds. What do you think, then, that David (and Paul in Romans 3) means by this?