Psalm 14 TALK: What Kind of Fool are They

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

 PSALM 14 TALK

WHAT KIND OF FOOL ARE THEY

(THE CONSEQUENCES OF DENYING GOD)

 INTRODUCTION

 On both sides of my family amongst the older generation I have lots of Frank Sinatra fans and the song they seem to like the most is “I did it My Way”. As a Christian I find this song very offence. What I don’t like about this song is probably best understood in the last verse that reads, “For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels, The record shows I took the blows, and did it my way !”. I love the tune and Frankie really pulls your heartstrings with his amazing rendition but those words express the views of a person who is kind of putting their fist in the air and saying to God, “I don’t believe in you and I don’t need you”.

According to Psalm 14 they are the words of a fool. The title at the top of the Psalm tells us again that this is a Psalm penned by David. What incident in his life led him to write this? We cannot be positive about this but many experts point to a very tragic incident in his life that does serve as a great backdrop to the truths of this Psalm. In 1 Samuel 21 and 22 we read about how, when David was on the run from King Saul, he went to a place called Nob and sought shelter and food from a priest of Israel named Ahimelech. Ahimelech could only offer David and his men consecrated bread and of all things the sword of Goliath the Philistine who David famously killed years before this. The problem was a servant of Saul named Doeg a heathen Edomite was also in Nob at the time. Later Saul hears through Doeg of how Ahimelech helped David and in 1 Samuel 22 : 17 – 23 we read of how Saul ordered his guards to kill Ahimelech and his family but as God fearing Israelites they could not bring themselves to kill priests of Israel . So Saul orders Doeg to do it. Doeg dutifully obliges and slays Ahimelech and his family except for one of Ahimelech’s sons named Abiathar who escapes death and goes to David to tell him the tragic news of his families slaying at the hands of Saul and his Godless servant Doeg.

This incident offers us a very good setting for the writing of this Psalm which will teach us how black and defiant is the heart of all men and how much they need a Saviour who is Jesus Christ our Lord.

This Psalm can be divided up into three parts :

  1. HOW FOOLISH AND EVIL ARE ALL MEN  (1 – 3)

 

  1. WHAT THIS FOOLISHNESS AND EVIL CAN LEAD TO   (4 – 6a)

 

  1. THE SALVATION THAT ALL FOOLS NEED   (6b – 7)

 Lets now read Psalm 14

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

1 The fool says in his heart,

“There is no God.”

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;

there is no one who does good.

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

4 Will evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD ?

5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.

6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

 1.       HOW FOOLISH AND EVIL ARE ALL MEN  (1 – 3)

 Verse 3 of this Psalm is quoted by Paul in Romans 3 : 10 – 12 and we will look at this later in our New Testament application section. However, David commences this Psalm with some very famous and well known words’, “The fool says in his heart there is no God”. Why is a person a fool id he doesn’t believe in God?

The answer to this can be understood on many levels, but let me point out three levels,

Level one : The evidence for God is everywhere

As we look at any part of creation whether it is the vastness of space or the properties of the smallest particle, we see order and purpose. We see that the universe runs or falls on laws and this fact makes scientific investigation possible. Those who choose to deny a creator behind everything generally believe that over many years order came out of chaos by accident. They argue that because the time frame is so vast  this is possible. This is as logical as a monkey randomly hitting the keys of a typewriter for billions of years and producing a large and spectacular novel.

Level two :  God has not left whether he exists or not in the dark

If we only had the evidence of the wonder and order of creation we might say that maybe God is so remote and great he cannot be known. However we know that God has not left us in the dark but has made himself known. He has done this in the most easy to see and understand way of all. His Son changed into a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. Now non believers say that Jesus is just a myth but  we have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than we have for just about any ancient historical figure. We have for instance more written evidence of the reliability of the New testament than the writings of Julius Caesar’s Gaelic Wars. Others will admit that Jesus existed but deny he was God. The New Testament of course claims Jesus proved he was God by rising from the dead and the evidence for this is very convincing as well.

Level 3. ALL PEOPLE KNOW THERE IS A GOD BUT BECASUSE OF THEIR

SINFUL HEART THEY REFUSE TO ADMIT THIS.

The greatest reason why people are fools if they say there is no God is that, according to the bible, in their hearts they know there is a God but because of sin they choose to deny this. Paul makes this very clear in Romans 1 : 21 – 23,

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles”.

If you want to live your life answerable to no one but yourself than why acknowledge the existence of a God?

God might not like the way I live. God might want me to change. God might get in the road of my good time party fun lifestyle. H.C Leupold says, “When men deny God’s existence or live a though he were not then wickedness prevails”.

So if he doesn’t exist then like the song I quoted at the start I can live my Life, “My Way”.

This is just what the rest of verse one of Psalm 14 says, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good”.

How does God view such people?

Verses 2 and 3 answer this question. God first of all thinks we are foolish and as he looks down he cannot find much faith in him on the earth. He sees people walking around blind to the most important truth of the universe. He sees people turned away from him and committing vile things against each other. He sees doing evil instead of good. John Calvin, a famous theologian of the 17th Century calls the state of the human heart, “Total Depravity”, that means every part of the human existence is turned over to and effected by sin. In Psalm 8 we were reminded that we are made special by God and that means we are made in the image of God but because of sin that image is blurred and distorted. We can only see what that image should look like by looking at Jesus who knew no sin.

2. WHAT THIS FOOLISHNESS AND EVIL CAN LEAD TO   (4 – 6a)

 As I said at the start of this study there is a good chance that David wrote this Psalm after Saul had a priestly family killed by a foreigner who did not believe in the God of Israel named Doeg. The man named Ahimelech and almost his entire family were slaughtered because they offered shelter to David when he was on the run from Saul and his men. To make matters worse this was a priestly family who were only seeking to serve God.

Even if this is not the incident that led David to write this Psalm it offers a brilliant but very sad illustration of what these verses are saying. Let me read to you verses 4 to 6a again,

“Will evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD ? 5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor”

The give away words of theses verses are, “those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD”. The only food Ahimelech could give David and his men was the consecrated bread he had in his home.

When people turn away from God and act as though he does not exist then they can do some pretty nasty things and Saul’s mad and unfounded hatred for David led him to kill a priest and most of his family (except one son who escaped) and he still would have thought he was doing the right thing. David says Saul is frustrated just like a lot of people who hate the idea of God and those who identify with him. People who refuse to acknowledge God are often overwhelmed with dread when they see God’s people prospering and receiving blessings from God.

This dread and frustration can cause some pretty terrible things and they often strike out against the more vulnerable members of society like the poor or aged. In my home city of Sydney in recent times many have been sickened by attacks on very old people and to see their smashed and bloodied faces on the evening news points to some pretty pathetic results of sinful actions.

However God’s Kingdom is so radically different as God cares more for the poor and suffering of this world then any high and mighty selfish, self made individual. As Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, Matthew 5 verse 3. Being poor here is not just a matter of money but points to those who are not proud in a number of ways.

3.  THE SALVATION THAT ALL FOOLS NEED   (6b – 7)

 Finally David makes the obvious conclusion that what everyone needs is salvation, “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!’. So bad is the state of mankind, they cannot save or even reform themselves they need a Savoir. In old Testament terms this could only come from the nation of Israel. Of course this is exactly right, Israel’s destiny is to provide a The Savior to the world in Jesus Christ and his death for sin on the cross. Isaiah predicted 700 hundred years before exactly how this would happen in his words in Isaiah 53 : 4 – 6,

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all”.

David longed for the day of Christ when out of Zion, the spiritual home of God on earth the promised Messiah would come. As we saw in Psalm 2, this promise of the coming Messiah is a constant theme in many of the Psalms.

David then speaks of the restoration of the fortunes of his people which has a double application. Through the decay of the reign of Saul, Israel was in bad shape so David would have had that in mind in these words. However these words also apply to greater restoration  which will finally come when Jesus, the true and great King of the universe will return to do away with all evil and take his faithful people to glory forever.

The final words of the Psalm seem to be a bit puzzling ,

“let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”

Jacob of course had a name change to Israel after he struggled with the strange man from God and would not let him go and the man gave him the new name. The name meanings are interesting, Jacob means something like sup planter as Jacob was a twin who came out of the womb clutching his brothers heel. While the new name Israel means something like “people who struggle with God”.

It seems on the night Jacob struggled with God through his angel he had a change of heart and instead of being a proud and conniving character he became a more humble submissive person who sought to live with and for God.

Maybe David has this right attitude in mind here. An attitude we must have to really know God. So he starts with the fool who says there is no God in his heart and finishes with the man who submits to God in his heart and as a result rejoices.

3 NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS FROM PSALM 14

 PAULS DESCRIPTION OF THE SINFUL STATE OF ALL PEOPLE

 As I said before Paul quotes from this Psalm using verse 3 in Romans 3 : 9 – 20. Lets read what Paul has to say about the state of all people,

“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away,

they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

13“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16ruin and misery mark their ways,

17and the way of peace they do not know.”18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin”.

This is the end of a long argument Paul has been developing about how obeying the law cannot save a person. He points out the law shows us how much a sinner we are and how powerless to save ourselves we are. Just like David did in Psalm 14, Paul states we and our world are in a real mess and in desperate need of a Saviour.

2.  PAULS PRESENTATION OF THE SAVIOUR

 At the end of Psalm 14 David speaks of his desire to see the Saviour, who in the Odl Testament was the hope of the Messiah. Following Paul’s presentation  of the sinful state of all people he presents the message of the promised Saviour. Lets read in Romans 3 : 21 – 26 , Paul’s presentation of this great Saviour,

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonementthrough faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”.

Jesus is the one and only way for our salvation and he provides the one and only remedy for sin.

      3.    THE PARABLE OF THE RICH FOOL

In Luke 12 : 16 – 21, we read Jesus parable of the rich fool, a parable that always send a chill down my spine when I read it. In this parable Jesus shows us clearly why people who live without God in there lives are so foolish. Lets read this parable together and then see what it has to say to us about foolish living.

16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

This story is so true to life it is scary. How many people do you know live just like this man, even if they are not even rich. As I said at the beginning of the study most people don’t believe in God, or at least say they don’t believe in God because they don’t wont to be accountable to anyone else but themselves. That is how this man lived his life. Paul says in Corinthians 15 verse 32 that if what we believe about Jesus rising from the dead is not true then we might as well just, “eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. I have heard of pop stars professing the motto of life of , “party hard, die young” although some of those pop stars who said that 30 years ago and are still alive and now wish they shouldn’t have lived by that motto. The rich foolish man lived that way. He also built up more and more material things and what did it lead to. The saying is very true, “You can’t take it with you” but I did see on TV once a man who got himself buried in his beloved Cadillac car, if that would do him any good, just a waste of a good car.

The point of Jesus parable is the foolishness of living without God in view and the foolishness of living for material wealth. As the David told us in this Psalm, The fool says in his heart,  “There is no God.” Sadly there are many fools and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2 : 13 – 15,

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment”.

CONCLUSION

 In this study of Psalm 14 we have looked at the cause and cure of real foolishness ?

We have seen that people don’t wont to believe or even acknowledge the existence of a God because they want to live there lives as the Frank Sinatra song says, “I did it my way”. This is the heart of foolishness and David shows that this kind of thinking and living leads to some pretty terrible consequences. In his day it led to the death of almost all of a priestly family that helped him when he was on the run from King Saul.

However we have also learnt that through the life and death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ we can be saved and find the wisdom only that salvation can find, the wisdom of God.

Let me read to you a poem based on this Psalm 

 WHAT KIND OF FOOL ARE THEY

 Some people say there is no God

Therefore they can do what they like.

No one can stop them harming ,hurting and lying

What is right and wrong is for them to say.

Yet if there is a God

What kind of fools are they?

 

God looks down at man from above

He looks for wisdom in our hearts

Yet all he sees are people doing what they want.

What is right and wrong is for them to say.

They deny God above

What kind of fools are they?

 

God calls out through his world and word

Why don’t you know that I am real?

But they say I am happy not to know

And I can chose what is right and wrong to say.

Yet one day they will die

What kind of fools are they?

 

Some people oppress the poor each day

They turn from God and go their way.

They despise the people who obey,

“Saying I will choose what is right and wrong today”.

Yet God will judge one day

What kind of fools are they?

 

God hears his people who turn and pray

He helps them through the trials of life.

Helps, protects and gives them victory.

Yet people all around them despise their way,

They claim that God is dead

What kind of fools are they?

 

One day we’ll rise with Christ above

We’ll enjoy the fruits of God’s great love.

And when we sit with Christ on heavens shores

Those who laughed at us each day

Will wish they turned and prayed

What kind of fools are they?

 

Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

Father in heaven I confess my many sins to you and for doing them I am truly sorry. I now turn away from denying and defying you in my like and accept, by faith, your forgiveness. Forgiveness made possible by the death of your dear Son Jesus Christ. I now look to him the risen and living saviour as the Lord of my life. In his name I pray this. Amen.