The fool who says “There is no God,” is not merely an atheist spewing out his vain philosophy, but is a reference to the man whose moral compass makes no recognition of God’s presence, involvement or jurisdiction in the affairs of men. This man lives as though there is no God who will ultimately hold him accountable for his thoughts, words and actions (or, inactions).
The psalmist describes the godless as “corrupt” men whose “deeds are vile” and do no good. The reason they live this way is that they do not believe God will hold them accountable. Yet, in reality God’s view of them is described in three steps that get increasingly closer moving from the transcendent to the immanent:
- “from heaven”
- “looks down”
- “on all mankind”
So, even from his lofty, immanent position the Lord is closely observing all mankind. The Lord looks to see:
“if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”
This Psalm 14 is the same as Psalm 53 with one slight change. In Psalm 14 God is identified with the Hebrew word Elohim in four places (Ps. 14:2, 4, 6, 7) and translated as “God” in the NIV, but in Psalm 53 those same four references use the Hebrew name YHWH, or Yahweh, which is translated “LORD” in the NIV.
A contrast is built between the self-serving wicked and the deity-indwelt righteous. The godless reveal their lack of knowledge and their absence of understanding as they devour “people as though eating bread,” not knowing that the very God they ignore is the one who overwhelms them with dread.
While at the same time, the righteous have in their presence the manifestation of the Lord himself serving as their refuge the whole time the evildoers are trying to devour them and frustrate their plans.
This psalm that began with a meditation on some basic truths has taken on a prophetic element and in the final verse has become a prayer that can be prayed and a promise that can be held on to throughout all generations waiting for the completion of salvation and the manifestation of the glorious Lord in his kingdom. The Lord’s presence with us today is a two-sided guarantee. First, to us the Lord’s presence is a sign of a future day that will have fullness of salvation and joy for us who understand and seek him today. But, the Lord’s presence with the righteous is also a sign to those who live as though “there is no God.” Today the Lord calls from among the righteous to the evildoers and asks the fools to change their heart and seek the one they now deny.