Atheism has become quite fashionable in western societies. In his 2006 book The God Delusion prominent atheist Richard Dawkins said of the traditional God that, ‘God, in the sense defined, is a delusion, and, as later chapters will show, a pernicious delusion’. The Bible says something profoundly different. We consider Psalm 14 The fool exposed.
1. God’s enemies
The psalm has a dramatic beginning: ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”’ (v1). We see and hear the outworking of the fall described in Genesis 3. Human depravity is depicted in all its darkness. In the Bible the designation ‘fool’ is not a matter of intellect, but of spiritual evaluation. It speaks of the spiritual lostness and deadness of the sinner. David makes the connection found throughout Scripture between belief and conduct.
(i). The claim. ‘There is no God’. In its historical setting, this is probably practical atheism – living as if there were no God, whether he exists or not. Today we also encounter theoretical atheism – the assertion that God does not exist. Both entail living without reference to God and such people are viewed by God as ‘fools’ (cf Luke 12:20). They ignore the evidence from creation and conscience for God’s existence and use the minds the Creator gave them to deny his existence.
(ii). The character. Every aspect of life is corrupted by denial of God’s existence – ‘They are corrupt, their deeds are vile’ (v1). Even when sinners do what God’s law requires (Romans 2:14), it is not done for God’s glory. In Romans 3:10-12 Paul quotes v1-3 regarding the universal sinfulness of mankind. They cannot abide the presence of ‘my people’ (v4) and oppress them in various ways – ‘eating’ them.
2. God’s evaluation
No denial of God’s existence prevents his thorough examination of all men (v2). His verdict – ‘All have turned aside’ (v3). The root cause is man’s spiritual deadness (Ephesians 2:1). Even efforts to satisfy God by our efforts are themselves sinful, the ‘filthy rags’ of Isaiah 64:6. But ‘God is present in the company of the righteous’ (v5) – his presence is with them in the face of all attacks. It is full of comfort for believers to know that they are precious to the Lord and are never separated from him.
3. God’s equity
The faith of the Lord’s people is in him – ‘the Lord is their refuge’ (v6). He is committed to them in a bond of everlasting love. In justice he will act to deliver his people. Hence David’s longing – ‘Oh that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion’ (v7). The Lord liberates his people from sin, from oppression, from all their enemies and from death. At Christ’s return persecutors will be ‘overwhelmed with dread’ (v5), whilst believers will ‘rejoice…and be glad’ (v7). God’s equity ensures full salvation and deliverance.