PSALM 14 - The Godless Fool, and the Fear of God.
1. To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David.
Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 are nearly identical. Their few differences amplify the message (as will be shown in the notes below).
     To the Title (above), Psalm 53 adds: "...upon Mahalath {lit., affliction, sickness; perhaps prescribing a somber tune or minor key}, Maschil {lit., instruction; ie., a didactic poem}."
The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God.
They are corrupt, they have done abominable works,
[there is] none that doeth good.
2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men,
to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy:
[there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.
The fool {HB=nabal, a stupid, vile or wicked person}...
The root of this word is HB=nabel {fade, fall away, wither}. When used of trees and leaves, it refers to an outward form which is cut-off from vital nourishment. Likewise, men, who are disconnected from God and His Word, have no life in themselves (eg., Isa 40:6-8; cp. Joh 15:1-6).
     Nabal, whose name means 'fool,' is a prime example. (see 1Samuel ch. 25)
  • David and his men provided free protection for Nabal's flocks and herdsmen for many months. At a time of bounty for Nabal, David suggested that he should provide a token of appreciation, in the form of food for his men.
  • Nabal retorted: 'Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? There are many runaway slaves in these days. Shall I give my bread and meat to strangers?'
  • David would have rewarded the insult, if Abigail (Nabal's wife) had not intervened. But within a matter of days, God judged Nabal's insolence with a stroke that took his life.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God...
  • 'There is no God' is the assertion of 'atheists' {from GK 'a-theos', no-god}.
         Like Nabal, the atheist has received benefits and blessings from God, without charge. Yet, he denies his Benefactor's existence and significance.
         Who is 'God'? The word is 'Elohim', the first name given for God in the Bible (Gen 1:1). If there is 'no Elohim'... then, the world began by other means... then, I am not under the authority of my Creator.
         This is the root of 'the lie' proposed by Satan, and promoted by 'the spirit of antichrist' (Gen 3:4,5; 1Joh 2:22).
         But not all atheists admit to this attitude. There are 'professing' Christians who are practical atheists...
  • hath said in his heart...
         As a man thinketh in his heart so is he (Prov 23:7). Do I believe God sees my secret thoughts and secret sins? What difference does it make to me? It means nothing to the fool...
They are corrupt {ie., full of decadence, destruction, waste}...- cp. Gen 6:5,11-12
Refusing God's authority, Godless men tend toward gross immorality and senseless destruction (of self, family, society...).
They have done abominable {ie., detestable} works - Mat 15:19; Joh 3:19,20
'They' is plural. While there are individual atheists, 'they' includes the whole human race as 'practical atheists.' So, who is corrupt and abominable?...
There is none that doeth good (v.1)... they...all... they...altogether (v.3)...-
In Rom 3:10-19, Paul quotes v.1-3 (and several other passages) to prove that all of us are sinful by nature. Paul was not giving his opinion, but rather the Lord's assessment of the human condition.
The LORD looked down... to see if there were any that did understand. and seek God.
In Abraham's day, the LORD, not only looked upon Sodom and Gomorah, but He went down to examine the situation and to separate the righteous from the unrighteous (Gen 18:16,20-21). He found those cities ripe for judgment. But He saved righteous Lot (2Pet 2:6-8).
     Yet, Lot was saved by God's Grace because of Lot's feeble faith, not because he understood that Sodom's sin desperately deserved judgment, and not because he was seeking God, for Lot had been pursuing possessions and position in the corrupt world. His reluctance to forfeit those things caused the angel to take him by the hand and drag him out of the city.
     At the incarnation, God became man. He came down from heaven and walked among us. He knows what is in our hearts. (Mat 1:21-23; Joh 2:24,25; 1Tim 3:16).
     Here is the report of His assessment...
They are all gone aside {ie., departed, revolted}...- Isa 59:7-8,13-15; Rom 3:10-12,23
They are all together become filthy {ie., morally corrupt}...- Isa 64:6
Decay has engulfed us. We are putrid, but we don't perceive our stench, because we have become accustomed to the odor of evil.
There is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Here, the emphasis of these words, repeated from v.1, becomes profound: ...none... no... not one.
     Apart from the Grace of God, that would be the end of the story, for united in our foolishness, all mankind disregards the God who condemns our sinfulness. We neither understand nor seek God.
     But... "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luk 19:10). He did, for us, what we could not do for ourselves (Rom 3:19-26 and Titus 2:14).
     At great cost to Himself, God has called out a people of His own, from a race where there had been "none... no, not one." How many of His people might there be? See Joh 1:11-13 and also Rev 7:9,10.
     In the context of that last passage, we see that God's people suffer persecution for His sake (see Rev 7:13,14 and Joh 15:18-21). Since the world of men is contrary to God, it is also contrary to His people.
4. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?
who eat up my people [as] they eat bread,
and call not upon the LORD.
5 There were they in great fear:
for God [is] in the generation of the righteous.
6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor,
because the LORD [is] his refuge.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? -
It is so. Having rejected the wisdom of God, they have become fools. Rom 1:21-22,28
...who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.
  • They prey upon God's loved ones.-
    If they would be done with God, they will gladly do away with His people. For the ungodly world, persecution of God's people, is common place (like eating bread). Disregarding God, they disregard the consequences of their actions against His people.
  • They do not pray to God.- v.1; Heb 11:6; 2Cor 4:3,4
There were they in great fear...-
  • 'There' - at the height of their rebellion against God...
    - at the height of their oppression of God's people.
  • ...were they in great fear {lit., they feared a fear}...-
    Psa 53:5 adds "...where no fear was." The workers of iniquity have nothing to fear from their persecuted victims, who lack the weapons or political power to resist them. Yet, they will be overcome with a horrible foreboding, which seems to them, to be without reason.
    What is the source of this fear?
For God is in the generation of the righteous.
     The 'generation' of the righteous is a 'new race' of people, born not of Adam but of God. Psa 22:30; 1Pet 1:23; 2:9
     When the ungodly oppress God's people, they are attacking God Himself, because He dwells in the midst of His people (Psa 46,5,7).
Consider 2Cor 2:14-16 - The essence God's Presence within a believer...
  • encourages other believers living in this corrupt world,
    for it brings the refreshing aroma of heaven and of wonderful things to come.
  • unsettles the unbeliever, with the scent of coming judgment,
    especially as they oppress God's children. Php 1:28,29
Ye have shamed the counsel {ie., purpose, prudence} of the poor {ie., lowly}, because the LORD is his refuge.
"Though fools themselves, the ungodly mock at the truly wise, as if the folly were on their side." [C.H.Spurgeon]
     The persecutors ridicule and undermine the believers' confidence in God and His Word (Psa 3:2; 42:10; eg., Dan 3:15; 2Pet 3:3,4). Yet, He will not fail His own (eg., Psa 9:9; Mat 5:1-12).
     In v.4-6, the references to God's people are plural, except at the end of v.6, where the pronoun is singular. The world mocked our Savior, as He paid the price of our salvation (eg., Mat 27:40-43). Because God the Father was His refuge, we also have strong confidence in Him (Psa 91:15; 1Pet 2:21-25; Heb 6:17-20).
     Thus, in addition to a warning for the ungodly, v.6 provides real encouragement to the shamed and persecuted children of God. However, Psalm 53 does not include that text. Instead it provides specific causes for the fear of the persecutors, in the time of their judgment (Psa 53:5).
  • God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee...-
    The enemy of God's people will be destroyed. (Note the singular pronoun.) 1Pet 5:8; 1Joh 3:8
  • thou hast put them to shame, because thou hast despised them.
    Not only Satan, but all who array themselves against God and His people, will be put to shame {ie., confounded}. Their godless plans and their ungodly world system will be brought down to nothing, by the God whom they despised.
7 Oh that the salvation of Israel [were come] out of Zion!
when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people,
Jacob shall rejoice, [and] Israel shall be glad.
About a thousand years after David penned these words, the salvation {HB=Yeshuah} of Israel did come from the heavenly Zion into this world to defeat the enemy. He accomplished that victory outside the walls of Jerusalem, the earthly Zion (Joh 12:31-33). Then, He returned to the heavenly Zion (Joh 16:28; Acts 3:19-21).
     When He returns, He will judge the ungodly world, depose its defeated king, and restore the Kingdom to Israel under His reign (Isa 59:20; Rom 11:26,27; 2The 1:6-10). In that day, God's people will rejoice greatly (Isa 12:1-3).

This Concludes the study in Psalm 14.
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