First Off…read Psalm 14!
As with all things, when we read scripture we must try and take in all that is being said (and usually there is a lot). Drawing in context, not allowing “feelings” to get in the way of the intentionality of the text and so forth. Really it’s a matter of simply allowing the text to speak and TEACH us something…or REMIND me of something. Revealing not only truth but fact. And ultimately, declaring who God is above whom we feel we are and what he not only HAS done but IS doing in response to what we HAVE done and CONTINUOUSLY do.
What’s hard for me is that when we read texts like Psalm 14 I am automatically struck by this opening “understanding” – that the fool says that “there is no God. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Wait a minute…the psalmist says that only a FOOL says there is no “God” and so their words are focused on the “fool”…but then the psalmist takes one big swing at ALL people and says not only is there “no one who does good” (the end of verse 1) but then, yet again, verse 3 says “All have turned away, all have become corrupt”…then they restate what they already proclaimed earlier that, “..there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Hold up here! I may not be the “best” Christian out there…but I don’t consider myself a “fool” when it comes to knowing God. I have NEVER said “There is no God” and I pray that those words never run across my lips! I have never uttered the words “I do not believe in you any more God!” … nor have I ever done anything remotely close to that kind of blasphemy. So what’s the deal Psalmster!?
I think we need to understand that it’s not about what is said verbally by us – it’s about what the heart speaks of (as given to us at the beginning of this text). And honestly…our hearts don’t fully speak of our love of God. Not always. Our hearts don’t always beat in tune and step with His. The psalmist is right when she says, “the fool says in their heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Do any of us seek God (vs 2)? Honestly seek and search and live lives in response to Him?
Our lips may not say it…but our hearts reveal it. We are all under sin – and the world IS guilty before God.
We, you and me, are the “fool”. There’s no way around it. In Hebrew the word “fool” is pronounced “na-bal”…and it can mean a wide range of things: godless; futile; worthless; good-for-nothing; miser; fool; unbeliever…the list is kinda long. And it’s hard for us to throw all of those together because we look at that list and we see something different in each one – and never would we actually admit that WE were, or are, one of those “nabal-ers”. But in actuality this is the reality we live in. And in a way…the first half of this psalm is kind of laid out that way. We are all these fools. God does look down and sees that ALL OF HUMANITY does not understand. ALL of humanity has turned away and become corrupt. Even the “good” we try to do is tainted with ego, dirt, loathing, hatred, anger, indifference, and many other things.
And that there is the problem.
We have become so corrupt within that often times we don’t want to see what we do and what we are capable of. Sin and self-love is so deeply entrenched in us that it hits us to the core: it has affected our heart. Paul says in Rom 3:11 that nobody understands…for there is no one who seeks God. But this, ultimately, isn’t about US seeking God…it’s about God’s response TO US failing to seek him. God’s response to us failing to love and live lives with hearts that beat as His. So yes, God looks down…sees all this corruption and hatred and disgust and contempt…but he doesn’t just sit there. He doesn’t ask us to stand up and come UP to him – for he knows we cannot. Instead, he comes to us (this is Christ’s birth).
This, as verse 7 reminds us, is the “salvation” that comes out of Zion – and not only for Israel but for the world. The Lord doesn’t simply come and restore his people, the people of Israel, but he expanded that understanding and restores all people that see their hearts, understand that in Christ that heart can BE BETTER…and turn to Him. But it’s not THEIR turning that happens – it’s God turning THEIR hearts to him. It’s God “HEALING” us with his love to thus GIVE AND BE his love to others.
Evildoers never DO learn because learning, turning away from harm of others is something we see and experience in God as He is the source of all good (Mark 10:18; Matthew 19:17). But thanks be to God that even in the midst of our own hearts having a hard time learning…God has given us his Spirit of Truth, his Spirit of Peace, his Spirit, of Reconciliation, his Spirit of Love to act upon our hearts and to lead our hearts at BEING good stewards of each other, lovers of God almighty and each other…and doing so above ourselves (Psalm 143:10).