While there are many agnostics in the world today that would answer the question, “Do you believe in God?”, with the reply, “I am not sure!”, most people living today have taken sides. They either do or do not believe in God. Whether someone believes in God determines their worldview. Their faith or lack thereof directs the type of life that they are going to lead. This is what this psalm is all about.
As we have viewed in other psalms of David, of which this is one, the righteous and the unrighteous are contrasted. The unrighteous are trying to devour the righteous and God is not only in existence in heaven, but He is keenly aware of the condition of the hearts of men.
Let’s read Psalm 14 before we enter the study today:
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great dread, For God is with the righteous generation. You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, But the LORD is his refuge. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.
The wise and foolish before God
The Fool Says in His Heart, “There is no God.” (verse 1)
"The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.
The word fool in this context comes from a root word nabal which means “to wither” and this is not speculative atheism but a denial of the governing authority of God over one’s life. These aren’t people that are merely ignorant or weak in reasoning skills, but they are morally perverse and reject God and any wisdom that would be presented as from above. In the passage it says that they commit abominable deeds and not one of them is a good person. For example, turn to Deuteronomy 32:6,
“They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.”
In Isaiah 32:5-6 we read,
“No longer will the fool be called noble, Or the rogue be spoken of as generous. For a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the LORD, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty.”
For many years now people have been saying that, “God is dead!” or they deny His existence altogether. The truth is that most of these people do believe in God but instead of honoring Him as God they choose to deny Him and live for themselves according to the desires of their flesh (Psalm 10:4; Romans 1:28). He says in his heart, meaning an internal dialogue takes place as in Psalm 10:11, to convince oneself that God will not do anything to us if we make sinful choices. In Titus 1:16 we have a perfect description of this type of fool,
“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
This passage doesn’t say that there is no Jehovah God as in the existing being, but it says that there is no Elohim meaning, ultimate Governor and Judge of all mankind.
The LORD searches for men that understand and seek after Him (verse 2)
The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God.
After describing the fool and his lack of wisdom, God peers through the window of heaven with anticipation to see if He can find those that want to know Him and desire a pure relationship with Him (See Ps. 33:13-15).
God is an all-seeing eye. Nothing escapes His notice. He is not oblivious. He knows our hearts, our thoughts and even our intentions. As God views the happenings of earth, what does He see in your life or mine? The Bible describes faith or a faithful person as one who believes that God is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). The wise man seeks the Lord as contrasted with the folly of the sinner that rejects the will of God for their life from the first verse of this psalm (Psalm 24:6)
Everyone has become sinful, and no one could be called good (verse 3)
They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
This is really the gospel in a nutshell. We have all (Haccol in Hebrew meaning the totality) turned aside to sin. Every man is found to be a sinner when they rebel against God, and they become corrupted. As in the days of Noah (Gen. 6), when God saw that the thoughts of men’s hearts were evil continually, He decided to destroy the earth with water. Following that deluge to purge the evil of wickedness, God had preserved Noah with his family in the ark and promised Him that He would never destroy the earth with water again. The rainbow was then given as a sign of that covenant agreement. The issue is that wickedness returned to the earth. It wasn’t long before man continued to sin.
Paul makes the argument in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This means that we are all under the curse of sin unless we can find someone to take away the curse and its consequences by paying the price for our sins. Jesus came from heaven, sent by God, to die on the cross for our sins. God has already planned a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by His Son and those that are punished will enter the torments of hell. Those that surrender their life to the Lord will be saved.
Paul quotes verses 1-3 of Psalm 14 in Romans 3:10-12. Now go to Romans 3:21-26,
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Some will seek the Lord and be saved leading to righteousness while others will continue in unrighteousness. No one can be called "good" apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ. He is the ark into which we might find salvation! Are you in Christ today? Do you have the hope of eternal life when the judgment commences? I hope that you will consider your soul's salvation based on these truths.
Fools lack knowledge and do not acknowledge their sin (verse 4)
Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the Lord?
The fool lives senselessly and ignores the consequences of their error. They are consuming the righteous person with the same regularity as a common meal. They live off devouring the godly ones. In Jeremiah 10:25 we have an example of this type of treacherous behavior and the wrath of God required for their sin,
“Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You And on the families that do not call Your name; For they have devoured Jacob; They have devoured him and consumed him And have laid waste his habitation.” (See also Micah 3:3-4).
The point being made here is the unrighteous are so foolish that they cannot make good choices instead of evil which leads to a terrible outcome. God refers to those whom they devour as “my people” so He takes this attack as an attack against Himself (Jeremiah 2:3).
Their greatest foolish mistake is not calling upon the name of the Lord. But as Paul pointed out in Romans 10:14, we cannot call upon Him unless we believe in Him. When you start with the premise that there is no God, you are not able to believe. It is one thing to have sinned against another man, but to fail to recognize and honor God while sinning against Him is more offensive. For these evil men to rob, plunder and lead into poverty the people of God, are the same things as consuming them. In Proverbs 30:14 we read,
“There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords And his jaw teeth like knives, To devour the afflicted from the earth And the needy from among men.”
Fools will be in fear, for God is with the righteous (vs. 5)
There they are in great dread, For God is with the righteous generation.
There is a day of reckoning coming which will fall upon the fool and strike terror in them (Psalm 36:12). They might be able to deny God and try to harm believers, but God is on the side of those living for Him and seeking after His will. The Lord is coming like a thief at a time unknown to judge the world in righteousness.
In Psalm 53, which is almost an exact replica of the Psalm we are studying today, we get a few new details of what God is going to do to the wicked in verse 5,
“There they were in great fear where no fear had been; For God scattered the bones of him who encamped against you; You put them to shame, because God had rejected them.”
God will despise and punish the evildoer and reward His people.
The fool shames the counsel of the poor because they find refuge in God (vs. 6)
You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, But the LORD is his refuge.
The unrighteous call trusting in God folly and therefore they will not heed any admonition to live in truth. Instead, they will try to shame and destroy those that choose to follow the will of God.
Consider the story of God leading His people out of Egyptian bondage. In Exodus 3:7, the text says,
“I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.”
God knows what His people endure, and he hears their prayers. Now consider Exodus 3:17,
“I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Pharoah thought it was foolish to believe in God and wouldn’t listen to Moses when He said, “Let My People go”. The end of our afflictions is always to be led to a better place in God’s good blessings away from our enemies. In the case of Israel, they had a promise of something better after being delivered from the Egyptians. For the Egyptians, God struck fear in them suddenly with plagues to punish their mistreatment of God’s people.
For us, we are awaiting the coming of the Lord so that we can be caught up to meet the Lord in the air while He destroys those that remain foolish on the earth who sought to harm His church (II Thess. 1:5-10). Paul would preach,
“Don’t be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).
Rejoicing and gladness will be among God’s people when salvation comes (vs. 7)
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.
Oh that the Salvation of Israel were come out of Zion, David begins this last verse with a heartfelt plea for their deliverance from captivity. The literal rendering is a question, "Who will give out of Zion salvation to Israel?” The Jews believed that Zion was God’s holy hill and that His divine help proceeded from that place when He heard the outcry of His people.
Remember though that literal captivity was a shadow of being in the bondage of sin. During David’s time the people of Israel were not in literal captivity, so this had to point to the times of the Messiah and their being taken captive to sin (Romans 11:26). This became known as the consolation of Israel that would be ushered in by the Messiah. This is reminiscent of Paul’s desire in Romans 10:1-4,
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Salvation has come not only to Israel (Luke 1:68-75) but to the rest of the world. They reject, deny, or even try to shame and kill those that proclaim the gospel. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. Physical Israel, the stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart, didn’t rejoice nor were they glad at the coming of Jesus the Messiah on Mt. Zion (Psalm 2:6; Isaiah 59:20). They did everything that they could to act foolishly toward Him, trying to destroy Him and eventually by wicked hands, had Him nailed to the cross. It didn’t end there. The followers of Jesus were told by Jesus "if they hated Me they will also hate You". The world continues its foolish pursuit of those living for the Lord and they remain firmly set against truth while living selfishly with no concern for the coming wrath of God and the saving of their eternal soul.
God literally answers David’s plea for salvation to come out of Zion and yet both this sinful world and the original people of the first covenant of God, Israel, are living foolishly and contrary to what God has taught them under this new covenant in the blood of Jesus. His name was Jesus because the name means that He will save His people from their sins. He was God with us (Matthew 1:21-23; See also Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Beyond that the words of Christ are recorded regarding the gospel plan of salvation that would bring us into the church, which is His body.
Go back to Isaiah 2:1-3 and see the prophecy,
“The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
When Jesus foretold of the church that He would build, (Matt. 16:18) before leaving the earth, He told His disciples where the prophecy in Isaiah was fulfilled in Luke 24:44-48,
“Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
This salvation in the gospel of Jesus was to the Jew first and then to the Greek (Gentile) as explained in Romans 1:16-18. But we also learn that the wrath of God will be revealed against those that hold the truth in unrighteousness. This is the true biblical definition of a fool. You know that God has done everything to lead you out of the bondage of sin, but yet you shirk the opportunity to obey the gospel and come in trusting faith to the Savior, Jesus.
David says that Jacob will rejoice. This is another name for the people with which God had made the covenant promises to Abraham. It is common to hear the phrase, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob connected with those promises, but here Jacob is the only name mentioned (See Isaiah 10:21). In Isaiah 14:1 we find this prophecy,
“When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.”
In John 8:56, Jesus said,
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad.”
What we find in I Peter 1:10-12 gives us the bigger picture of what is happening in Psalm 14,
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.” (See Matthew 13:17).
Jesus is our Savior and is the ultimate fulfillment of the Messianic hope to which David looked for salvation for His people (Luke 4:18). Now we are faced with a choice to either come to Jesus or to remain foolish denying God and His will.
If I can assist you with your spiritual needs, please reach out to me for further study or I can get you connected to someone in your area that could be of service.
Until next time, God bless you richly in Jesus Christ our Lord.