Psalm 14: Lynne McCarthy 2/2/22
Observe There is no God(1). This saddest of opening verses is uttered by “the fool”, not openly, but deep in the dark recesses of the heart, going their own foolish, corrupt ways. As God looks on these, His human creatures whose very nature is corrupt, He sorrowfully notes there is no one who does good, not even one (3, NIV); the negative repetition reveals His sadness. These unbelievers carelessly and cruelly devour my people as they eat bread (4), enjoying their evil deeds, oblivious to the Lord.
But the Lord dwells among the righteous, providing refuge for the poor and vulnerable. And the evildoers? They live in dread as they prefer darkness to light; for them, there is no refuge.
David’s song ends with a prayer of hope, when (not if) The Lord will save the resolutely faithful ones, His people; He dwells forever in His sanctuary (Zion). He IS.
Interpret Atheists, who adamantly insist ‘there is no God’, are in a dangerous place. They cling to the idea that God (if He exists) takes no interest in humanity, so life is lived by human reason and one’s own perceptions. It’s open season to live and think with no accountability (because sin doesn’t exist, either). David’s psalm is a lament by the righteous ones, mourning those who do not seek God.
In the Bible, ‘foolishness’ is a destructive self-centredness. Denying God’s reality means He can be ignored - or such is this moral delusion. Tim Keller writes, “Every sin is a kind of practical atheism – it is acting as if God is not there.” With inclination to sin buried deep in human nature, all are capable of ignoring God, whether in making and carrying out plans without Him; (look at Isaiah 31:1-3); voicing opinions and prejudices that demean others; whitewashing questionable motives and evil intent (= lying), or just being stubborn and ornery.
What is this ‘devouring my people’? It could be their depriving the poor of basic needs or dignity, enslaving so they no longer enjoy freedom, making life so difficult that suffering becomes their lot, or cruel bullying in any form. It could mean anything that treats another as less than the image of God. Because evildoers themselves do not rely on God, their choices in life produce bleakness, darkness, fear. There is no refuge for them. But God rescues those who cling to Him with even greater stubbornness, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Note: With the exception of verses 5 and 6, this Psalm is the same as Psalm 53.)
Apply We aren’t physically enslaved, nor are we materially impoverished, nor are we unjustly bullied – these come from outside ourselves. So we need to examine our own hearts to recognize our ‘atheisms’, living and thinking as if God can’t see or doesn’t care what we do. It’s so easy if we have slid into carelessness about prayer, the Word, neglecting to meet together, as some do (Heb. 10:25). We need to listen to that still small voice reminding us that the Lord sees, knows, and cares how we live our lives.
Ask If I really looked at what’s in my heart, would I shrink from what’s there? But if I don’t do this, how will I know what I’m hiding, and secretly thinking, from You? By Your grace would You nudge me to turn to You immediately, so I turn away from my darkness to Your light?
Pray Lord God, I have not loved You with all my heart and mind and soul and strength, and I have not loved my neighbour as myself. Merciful Lord, if I’m truly honest, ‘atheisms’ that ignore You are buried in my heart. I ask for Your mercy to renew my faith and trust in You, Lord Jesus, to believe with all my heart.
Sing Psalm 14: O Saviour, Come - My Soul Among Lions https://youtu.be/BF_7mSFHYyU
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.