The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one (14:2-3 CSB)
Having expressed mankind’s view of God and the conduct that flows from that view, David shows us God’s view of mankind. God is revealing what he thinks to us! The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race… What a picture of the infinite and holy God, as if bending down to examine his creatures closely. God is letting us know that his verdict has not been reached by mere hearsay, but that he himself has examined the human heart and the way of life that comes from the heart. As in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord presents himself as a righteous Judge, establishing the facts before bringing judgment (cf. Genesis 18:20-21.) God watches us, and he knows us intimately (Psalm 139:1-6). Now to be examined so closely may comfort us or cause us to feel most uncomfortable, depending on our relationship to the God who knows us.
What has God looked for in his examination? The answer is given: to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. Sin has darkened human understanding. Although God’s revelation of himself is very clear and mankind was created with the capability of understanding it, sin has so affected people that no one understands (Ephesians 4:17-19). In addition, this search of mankind reveals that “no one seeks God” (Romans 3:11). Notice that modern evangelicalism has often denied the truth by claiming that people everywhere are seeking God, or the “Christmas card theology” of “wise men still seek him.” Wise people might, but all sinners are foolish, as we have already seen. What people fail to comprehend is that the sinner wants nothing to do with the true God. He or she will never seek the Holy One. The sinner may seek religion or some kind of a false god, but the God who judges righteously is far from their desire.
Someone might object: “But I know of someone who told me that they looked for God for many years before they found him.” We answer: Let God be true and every person a liar (cf. Romans 3:4). They may have been looking for some way out of personal difficulties or a burdened conscience because of sin, or looking for some kind of spiritual experience, but they were not seeking the true and living God. Instead, the Savior has told us that he is the one who seeks the sinner (Luke 15; 19:10).
Verse three records the condemning result of God’s investigation. While we “listen in his court,” the holy Judge of all announces three charges against all people everywhere:
- All have turned away… Sinners have turned aside from God himself and from the laws he has commanded us to obey. God himself is the highest good in the universe, and his laws proclaim the best way to live. Yet such is humankind’s perversity that sinners constantly turn aside from good to pursue evil.
- Notice that the idea of the first phrase of these verses quickly becomes the practice of this second phrase: all alike have become corrupt…” Humans cannot live in a moral vacuum. Having rejected what is good and glorious, sinners seek what stinks with corruption. We may not realize the extent of the corruption, like the person who works where there is objectionable odors often becomes used to them. But the stench is still there! Observe that sinners join in this practice of corruption together (cf. Romans 1:32).
- As if to make sure that no one wiggles out, David adds in his song, “There is no one who does good, not even one” We often hear of a person doing some noble deed, and may be tempted to think that there might be an exception to this rule. But when we understand that all good actions must proceed from a heart of love for God and others and from a desire to glorify God and to help others, we know that all have failed miserably (Romans 3:23).
Let us not lightly dismiss the words of this psalm. In the words of Spurgeon, “This is the verdict of the all-seeing Jehovah [Yahweh], who cannot exaggerate or mistake… Do we not confess that we by nature are corrupt, and do we not bless the sovereign grace which has renewed us in the spirit of our minds, that sin may no more have dominion over us, but that grace may rule and reign?”
Grace and peace