Psalm Bible Study (Worshiping God)

Psalm 14, The Way of the Fool

I. The Words of the Fool (14:1)

A. There is no God

  1. Psalm 14 is a psalm composed by David. The very first word to come out of David’s mouth as he pens this psalm is “fool.” To call someone a fool is to use very strong and harsh language to someone. I do not think anyone appreciates being called a fool. Furthermore, I think being called a fool is one of the more insulting things that can be said about someone. So grave are these words that Jesus said if we were to slanderously call our brother a fool, we are in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22).
  2. David begins by describing what many people say within their hearts, “There is no God.” The idea of atheism is not a new invention that we face in our battle for the Lord. There have always been and will continue to be people who will not believe that there is a God. David says that those who say in their hearts that there is no God are fools.
  3. But this is not really just a matter of theoretical atheism. The fool is not only the person who has a belief that there is no God. Some of the translations use italics in the statement “there is no God” on the words “there is” to show that these words are added by the translators. Literally, the fool says “no God, no God.” Essentially, the person says that there is no room for God for me. No God for me, please, no God for me.
  4. Therefore, we are not merely dealing with the scholarly of the world who believe they can prove that there is no God. We are also looking at those people who by their actions show that there is no God in their lives. People who live with no room for God in their lives are called fools. Why would David say these people who make no room for God in their lives are fools?

B. Why are these fools?

  1. God has revealed Himself (Romans 1:20 ). Paul, in the first chapter of Romans, gives many good arguments as to why people are fools for not accepting that there is a God and not making room in their lives for God. Paul said, “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 ). We are fools if we cannot look at the things of the world and realize that there is someone greater than ourselves. We are fools if we cannot see the power of this universe and that something divine created us. These attributes of God can be seen by anyone, not just the really smart, scholarly people. Because of these things, God says we are without excuse for not knowing there is a God.
  2. People suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-19). If God’s invisible attributes can be clearly seen through the creation, why do people still claim there is no God and make no room for God in their lives? Paul addresses this question two verses earlier. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:18-19). Paul tells us that people are suppressing the truth that has been shown to them by God because of their ungodliness and unrighteousness. People do not believe in God because they do not want to believe in God, and it is as simple as that. God has revealed Himself to all people. To then say that there is no God, or that there is no room for God, they simply suppress the truth which they know. This is why they are fools: they are ignoring the clearly revealed truths of God’s existence.

C. Result: corruption

  1. The result of believing that there is no God and refusing to make room for God in our lives is that we become corrupt. David makes this point clearly in the rest of the first verse of Psalm 14. “They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
  2. When we choose to either be theoretical atheists by saying there is no God or be practical atheists by making no room for God in our lives, we will become corrupt. We will begin to do abominable things. We are fools when God is not in our lives.

II. God Speaks About the Fool (14:2-3)

A. The Lord looks down from heaven

  1. Having spoken about the words of the fool, David now offers the Lord’s perspective. David shows us our position in reference to God. David says that the Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man. God maintains His position of power, authority, and glory. God looks down from heaven on the children of men.
  2. God’s purpose of looking down upon the children of men is to see if there are any who understand and if there are any who seek after God. This is an interesting parallel that David draws. To be a person who understands is to be a person who seeks after God. If we are not seeking after God, we do not understand and, therefore, are fools.
  3. This is an interesting perspective that we are reading about. God is about to look down and see if there are any on the earth who are not fools. God is going to see if there are any people who do have understanding. What will the Lord find on the earth?

B. All are corrupt

  1. In verse 3 David tells us the end result of the Lord’s findings. Here are the results: “All have turned aside,” “together they have become corrupt,” and “there is none who does good, not even one.” God offers judgment upon the world and the judgment is not good.
  2. We may want to raise our hands and say, “Wait a minute! We believe in God!” We may want to argue that we have made room for God in our lives. We want to say to the Lord that His findings are wrong. We believe that there is a God. God responds to us that there is no one who has not turned aside. There is no one who has not become corrupt. There is no one who does good. This is the reality of the situation and identifies our true condition.
  3. Paul quoted this very psalm and also applied it to the whole world in Romans 3:9-20. Paul says in Romans 3:9, “For we have already charged that all…are under sin.” Again, Paul says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18 ). God has decreed that based upon our actions we are all fools. We have shown that we do not understand. We have not shown that we do not believe in God because we do not keep room in our lives for God. We have turned aside from God’s law even though God’s eternal power and divine nature can be clearly seen. We are all without excuse.

III. The Way of the Fool (14:4-6)

A. The fool never learns

  1. The Lord goes further to describe for us the way of the fool. The first point we see is in verse 4 that the fool never learns. “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools” (Proverbs 26:3). Just as these animals need a continual reminder to go the proper path, so also the fool never learns, requiring a rod for repeated discipline. “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). These proverbs simply prove the point that the Lord makes in Psalm 14: the fool never learns.
  2. This is a true point that also condemns us all. We never seem to learn, either. We are materialists, we take advantage of one another, and in general do not have the Lord as the ruler in our lives. We have not given our lives over to God. We still go down our own paths while we claim to be believers in God.
  3. We go through life never changing our ways. We continue to remain in our corrupt ways never forming ourselves into the image that God has left for us. Why do we continue in our abominable deeds and not call upon the Lord? We have shown that we are worthy of judgment for our actions. None of us can say that we have learned our lesson. All of us continue to play the fool when it comes to our service and worship to the Lord. How often we accept the blessings of God and yet do not put Him first! How often we will take all that we can receive from the Lord but never offer ourselves in return! We must put God first always and do what He asks.

B. The fool should live in terror

  1. Further, the fool ought to live in terror. God is with the righteous, but is against those who have not turned their lives over to God. It must be a terrifying thought to our minds to be standing against the Lord. When we noticed Paul’s words concerning the fools who suppress the truth of the knowledge of God, Paul said, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18 ).
  2. We can see the wrath of God revealed many times in the scriptures. In the days of Noah, the wrath of God was revealed against ungodliness through the destruction of the world with a flood of water. In the days of the Lot , the wrath of God was revealed against evil when it rained fire and brimstone from heaven. The wrath of God was revealed against Nadab and Abihu, who were struck dead for not worshipping God as He had authorized. The wrath of God was revealed against Korah who led a rebellion against Moses. God’s wrath has been revealed repeatedly and we must be in fear and trembling that the wrath of God will be against us if we continue to walk the path of fools.
  3. To the righteous, the Lord is a refuge. If you have been following this series on the psalms you will recognize that this theme has been repeated in most of the psalms up to this point. God is the place that we are to run to. This is one way we renounce our foolish ways: by turning to God for relief and rest. We show that we have gained understanding when we stop turning to the world for relief and start turning to God for all our needs.

IV. Hope of Deliverance (14:7)

A. Call for salvation

  1. In the last verse, the tone of the psalm changes as David cries out to the Lord for the hope of deliverance that he has. David first asks for salvation for Israel to come out of Zion . David recognizes that Israel is in need of salvation. There is no one who has been righteous as God has looked down from heaven and seen the folly of mankind. All of us have been corrupted by our own evil practices and desires.
  2. This call for salvation is a call for the Messiah to come. Zion , another name for Jerusalem , has spiritual overtones as the redeemed home of God’s children because of the work of the Messiah. Thus Peter said, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6).
  3. Paul also spoke of this deliverance that the Messiah had brought to Israel . Romans 11:25-27 says, “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel , until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion , He will banish ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be My covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ ” Israel could only be saved when the Messiah, Jesus, would come and take away their sins. This is the only way all Israel could be saved. This is how salvation is offered to everyone since none of us are godly. All of us have been the fools. David looked forward to the salvation the Messiah would bring. David looked forward to the salvation that can be experienced today in Jesus.

B. Call for restoration

  1. David also makes a call for a restoration of the people. When the Messiah would come, the Lord was going to restore the fortunes of His people. Each of us needs a spiritual restoration. We have all been corrupted by our sins. God can create within us a new heart and a restored spirit when we will turn to Him in faith and obedience.
  2. Acts 3:19-26 tells us that all the prophets spoke of the coming times of restoration that the Messiah would bring. God’s people would not only be restored to their rightful state to receive the blessings of God, as described in Ephesians 1, but also that His people would have a restoration of their relationship with God. By renewing our spirits and cleansing us, we can enjoy a relationship with the Father because we are no longer in darkness and no longer live in the corruption of our minds and hearts. The fortunes of God’s people would be restored as God could now act favorable toward us. The wrath of God no longer awaits those who have obeyed the conditions of our Lord to receive salvation.

C. Call for rejoicing

  1. This knowledge should lead us to great rejoicing. David calls for rejoicing as he ends this psalm. All of Israel must be glad because of the salvation and restoration that has been made available. There is nothing that can come against us that can ever rob us of the joy we ought to have in Christ. This is why Paul could command us, “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ).
  2. We cannot rejoice because things in life are always good. But we are to rejoice always because of what the Lord has done for each of us. God has been very good to us. Our actions led to our corruption, which should have led to our condemnation as the Lord looked down and saw our wicked ways. Instead, God has granted mercy by sending His Son to bring salvation to Israel , thereby showing His favor to all.

Conclusion:

The promise of salvation and restoration was promised from the beginning when God said to Abraham, “All the nations will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:9). The promise stated that Abraham’s children would be blessed. Abraham and his children were set apart by God and called by God ” Israel .” We are Israel if we are the seed of Abraham. Galatians 3:29 tells us that we are Abraham’s children if we belong to Christ. When we belong to Christ, we become heirs of the promise of salvation and restoration. Galatians 3:27 tells us that we become Christ’s through baptism. If we have not been baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, we are not children of Christ, we are not children of Abraham, and we are not God’s Israel . We have no salvation or restoration, only God’s wrath awaiting us. Be baptized today and become a child of promise.

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