October 28 2022
Today, Friday October 28
The Practical Atheist
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
“The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call on the LORD? There they are in great fear, For God is with the generation of the righteous. You shame the counsel of the poor, But the LORD is his refuge. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people, Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
From the title we know that David is the writer of this Psalm. The dedication to the Chief Musician stands at the head of fifty-three of the Psalms, and clearly indicates that such psalms were intended, not merely for the private use of believers, but to be sung in the great assemblies by the appointed choir at whose head was the overseer, or superintendent, called in our version, "the Chief Musician, or "the Master of the Music." Several of these psalms have little or no praise in them, and were not addressed directly to the Most High, and yet were to be sung in public worship.
Not only did the ancient Church chant hallowed doctrine and offer prayer amid her spiritual songs, but even the wailing notes of complaint were put into her mouth by the sweet singer of Israel who was inspired of God. According to Paul instructions to the church in Colossians 3:16, we are to, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” This is not so much a “praise” Psalm as it is a song to be sung to teach and admonish us to not go down the path of becoming a “Practical Atheist”.
“The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." Did you notice that the fool does not say out loud that there is no God. He says it in his heart, in his mind. In other words, he denies the existence of God so he can do what he wants to do and never have to give an account before a holy God one day in judgment. The real reason that a person claims there is no God is not because of a problem with their intellect or reasoning ability as they are surrounded by evidence of a Creator God, but because of the “filthiness and corruption of their own heart and their abominable deeds”. Years ago, I heard someone say that “A person’s theology will be determined by their morality.” These verses seem to bear witness to the truth of that statement.
Our English word "fool" comes from a Latin word that means "bellows," suggesting that the fool is a person "full of hot air." In the Hebrew language, there are three basic words for "fool": kesyl, the dull, stupid fool; ewiyl, the unreasonable and perverted fool; and nabal, the brutish person who is like a stubborn animal. Nabal is the word used here in 14:1. Remember it was the name of a man who was brutish and refused to help David (1 Sam. 25).
Nabal fools are self-righteous and don't need or want God. They want to live their own lives the way they please. Their problem is willful ignorance and not lack of normal intelligence (2 Peter 3:5; Rom. 1:18-28). But this decision causes sad consequences in both their character and their conduct. By leaving God out of their lives, they cause their inner person to become more and more corrupt. The Hebrew word “corrupt” means "rotten, putrid, decayed." When God looks down to investigate (Gen. 6:5, 11-12; 11:15; 18:21), He sees people who are filthy (v. 3), a word that describes milk that has become rancid. "Gone aside" means they have turned their backs on God (Jer. 2:21) and refuse to fulfill the purpose for which they were created—to glorify God.
This indictment is universal: all people, individually or all together, cannot do anything at all that is good enough to merit heaven—"no one, no, not one”. Paul quotes from this passage in Romans 3 as part of his proof that the whole world is guilty before God and can be saved only by the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:9-26). Human depravity doesn't mean that all persons are as wicked as they can be, or that all are equally bad, or that no man or woman can ever do anything good (Luke 11:13). It simply means that all have a fallen nature they cannot change, and that apart from the grace of God, none can be saved from eternal judgment.
Despite the foolish and corrupt character and nature of people and leaders around us, we should remember that one day God will restore the fortunes of His people and we should rejoice and be glad (v. 7)!