Jesus Creed

If there is a god, and if a person knows there is a god, then to deny God is to be a fool. So Psalm 14’s famous opening line: “Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.””  But there’s more to it than this.

Both of our companions, John Goldingay’s commentary (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) and Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary , translate “fools” with “scoundrels” (nabal). I’m not so sure the point is the atheist as much as the one who lives with no conviction that God is watching, who contends God will not intervene, and who believes he or she can do whatever one wants. David’s sights are on the scoffer and not the doubter; on the arrogant and not the one shaken in faith. Goldingay points us to 2 Ki 18:29-30 and Isa 14:14.

And David does not have in mind a single person but a character in society: “They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.” One wonders if in our culture today David would have in mind the atheist or the irreligious who don’t care. Not the one who busies herself faithfully in her job and at home; not the one is wealthy necessarily but the one who violates the Eikon of God in others, the one violates the will of others, the one who climbs over others in order to acquire what one wants. Not so much the wounded as the wounder. More like those in Genesis 6:11-12.

For the music director; by David.

14:1 Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.”

They sin and commit evil deeds;

none of them does what is right.

14:2 The Lord looks down from heaven at the human race,

to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.

14:3 Everyone rejects God;

they are all morally corrupt.

None of them does what is right,

not even one!

14:4 All those who behave wickedly do not understand –

those who devour my people as if they were eating bread,

and do not call out to the Lord.

14:5 They are absolutely terrified,

for God defends the godly.

14:6 You want to humiliate the oppressed,

even though the Lord is their shelter.

14:7 I wish the deliverance of Israel would come from Zion!

When the Lord restores the well-being of his people,

may Jacob rejoice,

may Israel be happy!

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