Psalm 14 is unique in that it is the first time we are introduced to the biblical definition of the word fool. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” This Psalm goes on to speak about the results of rampant disbelief and laments those that have rejected God. This is the basic impression that one gets from a casual reading of the text, but there is far more laying beneath the surface here.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” 

They are corrupt; their acts are vile. 

There is no one who does good.

The LORD looks down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if any understand, if any seek God.

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

Will the workers of iniquity never learn? 

They devour my people like bread; they refuse to call upon the LORD.

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

You sinners frustrate the plans of the oppressed, yet the LORD is their shelter.

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come from Zion! 

When the LORD restores His captive people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad!

Psalms 14

The Fool Says There Is No God

It is quite common among Christian apologists to state that there is no such thing as a disbelief in God, but rather a refusal to admit that God exists. Personally, I see no reason why both of these claims cannot be true. A person is fully capable of intellectual ignorance, which may cause their disbelief. While they may not live their entire lives this way, I see no reason why this could not be a temporarily true statement about a person. I also can comprehend how someone may refuse to believe for many reasons, both moral and otherwise. There is also a third possibility, one in which both statements are true; a person is ignorant of the facts that will lead to their belief in God, as well as a refusal to seek out those facts because of moral objections. Just for clarity, an example of a moral objection would be a refusal to concede the idea that God is the authority on the subject of good and evil. It is important to draw the distinction between an intellectual atheist and a moral atheist because this particular Psalm is referring to the latter.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalms 14:1

Here we are given the biblical definition of the word fool, but it is important to understand that the Hebrew word Nabal, translated here as fool, already has history within the Bible, as well as with David to whom this Psalm is attributed. The Hebrew definition of Nabal is stupid or wicked. Also, in 1 Samuel 25, David encounters a man named Nabal, who is exceptionally wicked and is renown for being that way. Given this, I believe it is reasonable to assume that this Psalm is speaking about the sort of person who denies God’s existence exclusively on moral grounds. This sort of person likely refuses to accept that some portion of God’s law is good or required.

They Are Corrupt

As we consider the state of the moral atheist, rejecting God’s existence based on moral grounds, let me ask a question. Can any good come from the outright rejection of a portion of God’s law? If we know that God exists, yet refuse to believe it because we disagree with a portion of God’s law, this disbelief does not change the fact that God created our world, including the rules by which life within our world functions. There is no one but God who is able to fully distinguish the moral law required in order to best maintain our existence, and the existence of creation itself. Therefore, it follows that any deviation outside of God’s moral law would result in the slow corruption of God’s creation.

There Is No One Who Does Good

Regardless of our moral beliefs regarding God’s ways, to reject God is to reject His mercy, and God’s mercy is the reward of everlasting life. No good can come from any actions which persuade others to reject God in their hearts, even if we are unable to understand the moral goodness of God’s law.

  • To reject God is to reject His gift of everlasting life.
  • To be granted everlasting life without God is to be everlasting suffering, much like we suffer in this life.
  • To reject God and His gift of everlasting life is to die a needless death.

There is no good that can come from any of these paths. Will the workers of iniquity never learn?

They Devour My People Like Bread

Is there any difference between a self-professed atheist who knows that God exists, but denies it so that he can live life according to his own moral standard, and a Christian that refuses to follow God’s law? I would argue that any difference between these two examples is meaningless. As Cristian’s we profess that God is the absolute standard of morality, if this is true then no good can come from purposefully and repeatedly denying God’s law. Yet, this becomes far more likely to happen as Christians become increasingly intermixed with society at large, and as society itself increasingly rejects God. The fool rejects God in his heart and believes that his own ways are superior to those of God, whether he professes to believe or not, in his heart he rejects.

At the end of our lives, would we not be filled with dread if we had spent our whole lives rejecting God, but knowing that God is in the company of the righteous? Would it not be the same for our loved ones? Would we not be filled with dread for them, knowing that they had lived as fools?

Frustrating The Plans Of The Oppressed

This verse is uniquely phrased, calling the saved “oppressed”. However, in a society of fools, would the saved not continuously be oppressed? Unable to straighten the paths of those around us, filled with dread for them, frustrated that we cannot help, God is our only shelter. If our society disagrees with God’s moral truths, they will not listen to our pleas. Oh, that salvation would come! When it does, let us rejoice.

Written by James Dusenbery

I am the Founder/Lead Editor at CanonOfReason.com. I do not claim to be an "expert" at anything, although the title is afforded to me quite often. I simply want to spread understanding of different Biblical positions and shine some light on the versatility and brilliance of the Bible. You can follow me on Twitter (@JamesDusenbery) and Instagram (@CanonOfReason).

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