Study of Psalm 14 (Part One)

The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good (14:1 CSB)

This psalm and Psalm 53 are twins; most of Psalm 14 is repeated in Psalm 53 with just a few minor variations. Paul quotes from this psalm in Romans 3:10-12 to prove that all people everywhere are sinners.

Few songs are written like this one. Some have thought that the best music is simply praise or worship songs, usually very upbeat. Others like “therapeutic” music, composed to soothe the soul and to give encouragement. There is nothing wrong with either, as long as you do not restrict your musical diet to either option. The Holy Spirit obviously disagrees with a limited viewpoint. Compare Ephesians 5:19 where the Spirit commends all kinds of music: speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (NIV). Our music ought to be doctrinally sound and deep. Shallow music that says little, while fine for little children, only promotes a nebulous, empty Christianity that is not equipped to stand in the day of evil. Read Ephesians 6:10-18 to refresh your memory about the war we are in. In Psalm 14 we find the “sweet psalmist of Israel” singing about the radical corruption of mankind, and as God’s king and prophet, he directed that it be used in public worship. We need to broaden modern worship to declare musically the whole counsel of God.

We can briefly outline Psalm 14 this way.

I.          The world’s foolish creed and lifestyle (14:1).
II.         God’s view of human corruption (14:2-3).
III.       The hope of God’s people in spite of evildoers (14:4-7).

David began with rebellious man’s view of God. He did not pull any punches as he described what all people everywhere are like apart from saving grace. Lost people are fools, because they reject and suppress the knowledge of the true God. Then they exchange the knowledge of God for the worship of idols (Romans 1:18-25). Yet only with the knowledge of God may anyone be wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10 CSB).

The foolish person has a simple creed, “There’s no God.” This is the confession of faith that they say in their own heart. The word used here for heart refers to the totality of a human’s inner nature, mind emotions and will. Notice that we talk to ourselves, but what foolishness we can deceive ourselves with! Someone might object, “But aren’t people everywhere seeking for God?” No, not at all! See the next two verses. People may be religious, but that does not mean that they have any room in their religion for the true and living God (cf. Psalm 10:4; Jeremiah 10:1-10). People may profess anything they choose outwardly, but a lie holds the inner person of the heart. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV).

We should understand that all sin (rebellion against God, transgression of his laws, falling short of his glory) has an element of practical atheism in it. When we sin, we say in our practice, “There is no God, no Holy One to whom we must give account.” It is like saying to the sun, “I have closed my eyes and I will act like you do not give light on the earth.” But such denials do not change the facts.

The sinner’s problem is basically moral, not an incapability of understanding the truth of God’s existence. God the Spirit communicates in plain, understandable words. People say in their hearts that there is no God, because they have another agenda. Sinners desire to follow their own ways and not walk according to the will of the Lord. David provides us with a description of what life is like when it is lived apart from God.

  • They are corrupt… People are ruined by sin; it destroys those who commit it. One of the great lies of sin is the belief that it will bring true happiness, but the actual result is destruction. Notice that the person is corrupt, and not just the actions. The bad record of activity comes from a bad heart (cf. Mark 7:20-23).
  • The lifestyle is also wrong. The Spirit says it strongly “they do vile deeds” or “detestable actions.” God has no pleasure in our sin; in fact, sin disgusts him.
  • They are unable to perform what is good. There is no one who does good.” Weep for the religious sinner who thinks he or she can be saved by doing good deeds. They cannot! What a ruin is the heart of rebellious people. They do not do good, but they do what is detestable.

Who can find any hope in the sinner? Salvation is found only in the blessed name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 NIV).

Grace and peace,