Scripture Reading: Psalms 14
‘The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.’
This can be considered a wisdom Psalm. The Psalms opens with a description of the fool and continues with YHWH’s perspective as He looks down on the corruption of humankind. It continues with the fate of those who do not call on YHWH and concludes with a statement of hope for His people. There was one time a young lady came for SOZO counselling. The download for her is ‘The fool says in his heart there is no God.’ This lady is starting to begin to take matter into her own hand because she doesn’t feel the support of the parents in her life. Even in the church she feels that Christians don’t manifest the reality of God. She felt alone and unimportant and decided that there is no God and she will take matter into her own hand. She wants to take control of her own life. Well God says, it is foolish and even stupid to say there is no God in this world. She must not allow her family environment and even the church environment to cause her to be disillusioned and come to this conclusion that there is no God. Man may fail you but God has done you no wrong. What can we learn from this portion of scripture?
1. The Judicial Hardening of Humankind
The Judicial hardening is relating to the law, judicial system. There is a hardening towards the Law of God in this world. Just 4 days ago, a one-year old male infant was found dead in an abandoned building in Makati after he was allegedly raped by a construction worker. On last Wednesday the grandmother of the victim found him lying on the floor of the building at around 12:30 a.m. and later brought him to Santa Ana Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. Rape in itself is a terrible crime but it has gone to such decadent level; rape is no more a man on a woman but man on man and here it reaches its climax when it is committed on a one-year old male child. This phenomenon of the hardening of mankind is so important in the understanding of God’s ultimate prophecies concerning the repeated apostasy and final destruction of the Adamic race. Psalms 14 points to the corruption of the last days. The godly man has ceased, it seemed; and the godless were in control. Corruption, wickedness, and lawlessness abounded. The three centers (sources) of this phenomenon called judicial hardening are:
a. Wicked men themselves
b. God who hardens men’s hearts in the sense of allowing it. YHWH observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. And he hardens their heart in the sense of allowing it. Why? Because he is about to send judgment.
c. Satan himself, who with the proper advantage afforded by the conduct of the wicked is able to ‘blind men’.
What happens when men are hardened? Firstly, they are blinded; meaning they are incapable of seeing or understanding the plainest truth. Secondly the foolish heart (in scripture the heart could refer to the mind) is darkened, with the meaning that an essential element of human intelligence has been judiciously removed by God. Thirdly they become vain in their reasonings. Fourthly they become fools. Fifthly God gives them up to their folly.
Why do people become that way? It starts with the heart (mind). Fool says in his heart there is no God. From the Italics in the King James Version, we see what the fool actually say is ‘No God for me.’ Not only he does not believe in God, he also acts on his own conviction. There is a very intelligent man who has been successful in dealing with atheists. One day he was in a group of men when an atheist said, ‘I don’t believe there is a God. Man doesn’t have a soul, and when he dies, he dies like a dog.’ This man went on raving like a madman. This Christian waited until the group began to break up and then approached this man. He said, ‘I understand you said that you are an atheist.’ Upon hearing these words, the man launched into another tirade about his belief that there is no God. This Christian guy then said,’ I would like to ask you a question. The Bible says, ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. The word fool means insane or mad. Either you were not sincere when you talked about God as you did and you were just talking for the benefit of the crowd, or you are a fool and a madman. I would like to know which one it is.’ The man turned and walked away.
This word ‘fool’ refers to people who should know YHWH but choose to live as if He does not affect their lives. They were no atheists in the philosophical sense but many of the covenant people were practical atheists. Isn’t this frightening? I have observed the Christians found in the church, especially in the First World Country. I find them practical atheists. They say to Pastor Lily and I, ‘why do you want to stay in the Philippines for so long? Isn’t time to come back? Why do you want to start works in Cambodia? My own brother said to me once, ‘God doesn’t need your help to evangelize the world. If he wants, he can do it himself.’ Another say, ‘I don’t believe in the book of Genesis. How about evolution. How about scientists stating that the earth is billions of years old.’ All these phrases are spoken to us by Christians. I can understand if you are a fool from the outside world. But if you are a fool in the church, beware.
Many years ago, a friend sent a Pastor an article that included these words: “Some men say, ‘There is no God.’ All the wonders around you are accidental. No Almighty hand made a thousand billion stars. They made themselves. The surface of our land just happened to have topsoil, without which we would have no vegetables to eat, and no grass for the animals whose meat is our food. The inexhaustible envelope of air, only 50 miles deep and of exactly the right density to support human life, is just another law of physics. We have day and night because the earth spins at a given speed without slowing down. Who made this arrangement? Who tilts it so that we get seasons? The sun’s fire does not generate too much heat so that we fry, but just enough so that we do not freeze. Who keeps its fire constant? The human heart will beat for 70 or 80 years without faltering. How does it get sufficient rest between beats? Who gave the human tongue flexibility to form words, and who made a brain to understand them? Is it all accidental? ‘There is no God’? That’s what some people say.” The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The fool says, “There is no God”.
They thought they are practical; but they are simply practical atheists. The proverbs of Luke 12:48 applies to these people: ‘but he that knew not and did commit things worthy of stripe shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask for more.’ It means these people once had the revelation from YHWH and yet committed offences, crimes and chose to live as if He does not affect their lives. God calls them fools. The Hebrew word for ‘fool’ here is ‘nabal’, which does not mean a simpleton, but one whose moral thinking is perverted and who has deliberately closed his mind against the reality of God and to the imperatives of God’s moral government. A Nabal indicates a person with aggressive perversity. A fool is an insane man or a madman. It is so interesting that a fool mean Nabal. I mean we read the story concerning Nabal in 1 Samuel 25. His name characterized him accurately. He acted a fool. He is rich like the rich men of this world. But he is hard as a stone. The way he died is that his heart is so hardened that it became a stone. He said ‘why should I give to feed those in the wilderness?’. Wilderness implies people who dwell in places that are uninhabitable, desolate, a bewildering place. His reasoning for not feeding David’s men is just alibi. He trust in his own wealth. He enjoys his own wealth but to give to the people in the wilderness is a no no. He is an arrogant materialist. The bible commentator Kidner struck a note of solemn truth when he wrote that, ‘This might well be twentieth century man’. The chief characteristic of the 21st century men is that he is a fool. He is a Nabal. This chief characteristic of the 21st Century; a fool, is such a phenomenon that Jesus would call some people fools. I mean Jesus, so gentle at time would call people fools because they exist in this world. Recorded in the Gospels a number of times, our LORD used this derogatory term to describe those He spoke about. Most of the times Jesus uses this word, it was directed at Pharisees (covenant people); practical atheist. He even used the word ‘fool’ in the parable of the foolish rich man. What made him foolish is not that he built bigger barns to store his abundant harvest. It would have been more foolish of him to leave it out in the fields where inclement (bad) weather would spoil it. Nor was he foolish because of his thought that this unexpected windfall was enough to last him a long time. After all, we are urged to follow the example of the ant in “storing up” the harvest. What made the man foolish? He left God out of the picture. He was called a fool because he failed to realize that his life was in God’s hands. While he was planning carefully for his comfortable life on earth, he failed to plan for eternity and store up treasures in heaven. Isn’t that Nabal? We are blessed to bless.
What is more frightening is that it is referring to people who should know YHWH (who knows YHWH except those in the church) but chose to live as if He does not affect their lives. Atheism is not the product of knowledge, education, intelligence, or discernment of any kind, but the child of corruption. A fool is morally perverse not mentally deficient. He is just simply corrupt. The word corrupt in the KJV is filthy. He is filthy. Again 4 days ago, 12 teenage Israelis boys between the age of 16 and 17 raped a 19 years old British woman in Cyrus. It was said that they were taking videos of the act on the mobile phones and were laughing all the way. They are God’s people. They are covenant people. It was said that Atheism is the essence of ingratitude, injustice, pride, hatred and selfishness and conceit. It is frightening but I realize YHWH is simply describing people in his sanctuary: ungrateful, unfair, arrogant, filled with hatred concerning life and self-centered. He has a highly inflated view of oneself. Some people are so conceited that they expect everybody to be impressed and to jump at their commands. A rather large and arrogant man, whom we will call John, missed a train. The next train he has to take will not make stops at his little town unless there were six or more passengers to be picked up. He sent a message to the conductor: ‘Stop the train at this station for a large party.’ When the train pulled into the station and stopped at this little town, John walked on. The conductor stepped off, looked up and down the platform, and then demanded to know where the other passengers were. John answered bluntly, ‘I am the large party.’ Isn’t this the millennial generation?
Now what is a fool in the church? One who rejects God and His ways and chooses evil. One who is simply corrupt. This is a settled condition; a predisposition of that person. The mold, rot, decay is already formed in this fool. That is why if you want a revival of the soul, the bible says you need to break up the fallow ground for goodness to dwell in again.
The Phenomenon of the 21st Century man is not only a fool but there is none that does good. The bible says ‘Iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold.’ This is a general statement on the spiritual condition of fallen mankind, even the covenant people. Notice how fallen humanity is characterized.
a. No one does good – the deeds of the fools are abominable
b. No one understand
c. No one seeks God. I said last week that ‘we are a called people who call on the name of the LORD and are then called to service! Prayerlessness is a sign of false faith and practical atheism! It is a very strong statement but what it means is that if you don’t pray you actually have a false faith and you are a practical atheism!
d. All have turned aside
e. All have become corrupt/filthy
It is so difficult for people to say the word, ‘I have sinned’. People seldom use the word sin anymore. The word sin is only found in the church and yet the church seldom say the word ‘sin’. When we do something wrong, we say we have ‘shown inappropriate behavior’, or made ‘tactical error’ or ‘mistake’. We may even say, ‘I have done a bad thing’. It seems as if people have come to believe in their innate goodness. I love David. I now understand why he is so popular with God. Because he said the word, ‘I have sinned’. ‘I have sinned’ implies that person has a relationship with God. Today we don’t say the word because we don’t have a relationship with God and have become corrupt.
2. God’s Perspective as He looks down from Heaven
Psalms 14:2 says, ‘The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.’
Look! Who is looking? YHWH is envisioned to dwell in heaven from which He sees and knows all that occurs on earth (the acts, the motives, the intents). He is observing every life. He sees every heart, thought, deed and life. YHWH is so different from the idols because he sees, knows and acts. YHWH has insights, who understands and act wisely. YHWH is looking to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. You notice ‘seek’ is mentioned here again. If you want to survive in this world, you have to have a habitual devotion with YWWH. If you say you have no time; I tell you that you cannot afford not to have time with God. They are ‘gone aside’ means they have ‘turned aside’. Bible commentator Poole says ‘turn aside’ mean ‘grown sour’, a metaphor from corrupted drink. ‘Become corrupt’ has reference to ‘rotten meat’. YHWH’s covenant is a clearly marked path, road, or way. His people are to stay on this straight, righteous and narrow road, but they did not. The turning away was not an act of ignorance but purposeful rebellion! This morning many of us need to come to God and say, ‘YHWH, please forgive me. Your path is clearly marked and yet I turn aside. My action is not an act of ignorance but purposeful rebellion.’ They are called the workers of iniquity who eat up God’s people as they eat bread and call not upon the LORD. Again, the third time, calling upon God (seeking) is mentioned again. In the various bible translations, it is replaced with ‘do not call upon the LORD’, ‘they never pray to me’, ‘they never call to YHWH’ and ‘they do not invoke the LORD.’ The verb ‘call’ is a very common one used in many ways. In Psalms it is used of
a. Of priests in ritual and prayer
b. Of the prayers of the covenant people
c. The nations do not call on YHWH but Israel does
The ritual of prayer has become a way of denoting entrance into a relationship with YHWH through Jesus. What happen when we don’t have a lifestyle of prayer? Psalms 14:5 says, ‘There they are in great dread’. Literally it means they feared a fear. Actually, it means where there is no fear they were in great fear. Charles Spurgeon in describing this verse says, ‘A panic terror seized them: they feared a fear’; as the Hebrew puts it; an undefinable, horrible, mysterious fear crept over them. The most hardened of men have their periods when conscience casts them into a cold sweat of alarm.’ I want to speak to some of you this morning. You are in depression. You cannot sleep at night. You have an unexplainable fear. You have fear where there is no fear. God wants to set you free. You don’t have to be afraid. Fear is not of God. When you open up and plead the blood of Jesus and call upon the name of Jesus, the fear will leave you. You are in this condition because you have not built a relationship with God. Mostly likely you have not been walking with God. You did not learn to seek God. Call upon the name of God. The bible says that when Seth was born, Men began to call upon the name of the LORD. You know how to get rid of this fear? Call upon the name of the LORD. If fear still lingers, take up the bible and quote from the word of God and fear will leave you and in return a settled peace will dwell upon you. I notice about my life. I am easily troubled by the saying of men, of circumstances. But I also notice that when I am in real good relationship with God manifested with a habitual prayer life, even the face of men I am not afraid, even circumstances, I am not afraid.
3. YHWH is with His People
Psalms 14:4-6 says, ‘For God is with the righteous generation. The enemy would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted but the LORD is his refuge.’ The actions of the wicked against the poor, needy, and those with no social voice or power will be judged by God, their protector. Recently we are touching base with the Indigenous People. We were trying to build a school in their vicinity. Then we heard that the place where we intend to build a school is already owned by some private company. We know the Indigenous people has no social voice or power. We believe that the barangay captain was bribed by the private companies during election and so he gave the land that rightfully belongs to the Indigenous people to this private company. I want to tell you that their creator is angry. They will be judged by God their protector. YHWH will be their refuge. To attack them is to attack Him. YHWH will defend them. I realize that if I serve God sincerely and walked with himself consistently, He is my refuge. If people attack me, they are attacking God. YHWH will defend me. There was this Singaporean pastor that belittle Pastor Lily and my service in the Philippines. He called us foolish, unwise to continue serving God in the Philippines. What he is saying is ‘What is so great serving God for so long in the Philippines’. Well God uses the Chef Mission Philippines to show him otherwise. People from Singapore called me up and cried on the phone and said, you are so faithful. Adjectives like ‘touching’ ‘amazing couple’ show that YHWH is truly with Pastor Lily and I and it is the lie of the devil that what we do for God is not remembered but noticed by God.
Even your giving and sacrifice is remembered by the LORD. There was this lady who was touched by Chef Mission Philippines and there is this tug in her heart to toward social services to the needy overseas. She said that she wants to send her little tithes regularly for a while to our organization. That very morning, I read something from the bible. I wrote to her that ‘what you consider ‘little’ will be a source of blessings to this Third World Country like Philippines’. I said, it is very interesting that this very morning in my devotion, I read concerning our giving. It says in Psalms 20:3 that YHWH ‘remember all thy offerings and accept thy burnt sacrifice.’ The statistic just came up. It is stated that 11 million Filipinos families consider themselves poor; that is 45% of all Filipinos consider themselves poor. If we continue to help them YHWH ‘remember all thy offerings and accept thy burnt sacrifice.’
4. Hope for the People of God
Psalms 14:5-7 says, ‘There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. You shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.’
Zion was the site of the Jebusite fortress captured by David as well as the site of his palace. The exact location is Mount Moriah where Moses offered up Isaac as a sacrifice; represented by Jesus paying for the sins of us. The price has been paid for our sins. Zion came to be the name used for the entire city of Jerusalem and the phrase ‘daughter of Zion’ refers to the Israelites people. Zion also refers to the temple in Jerusalem. It was not built in David’s day, as when this Psalms was written but the tabernacle of Moses was there in Zion. What this verse is trying to say is that salvation will come from the Sanctuary of God and also the Heavenly Court of God (represented by the palace of the King). Salvation will come from Etab. God told me some times ago that whatever we prayed in this sanctuary He will answer. We are the people of God ‘daughters of Zion.’ Help will come from the Sanctuary of God and also from the Throne Room of YHWH.
Workers of iniquity will shame the counsel of the poor. They sneered, make practical jokes and jest at the commitment and the those who served God sincerely. They will point at you, hurt you, mock you but YHWH remember what they do.
YHWH will restore His people. The verb ‘restores” is also the same verb as ‘repent’ or ‘turn back’. He will restore the fortunes and the word ‘turn’ is saying YHWH is turning towards His people. I do not know about your situation you are in but YHWH has a way of dealing with each and every one of our situations. At the end of the dealing we will rejoice and be glad. It denotes the result of restoration. When we say God restores my soul, this verse addresses and acknowledge the fallen human condition. We need ‘restoring’. This verb is the very verb used of ‘repentance’. We have to repent to experience the restoration. This same verb is also used of returning to the tabernacle for lifelong fellowship
Philip Yancey, a writer, lives Colorado and he love to climb mountains. On summer weekends, he would see casual hikers who have no idea what they are doing. In sandals, shorts, and T-shirts, carrying a single container of water, they start up a trail at mid-morning. They have no map, no compass, and no rain gear. Philip Yancey’s neighbor, who volunteers for Alpine Rescue, has told him stories of tourists rescued from certain death after wandering off a trail. Regardless of the circumstances, Alpine Rescue always responds to a call for help. Not once have they lectured a hapless tourist, “Well, since you ignored the rules of the wilderness, you’ll just have to bear the consequences.” Their mission is rescue. They pursue every needy hiker, no matter how undeserving. The central message of the Bible is one of rescue. Paul points out that none of us “deserve” God’s mercy and none of us can save ourselves. Like a stranded hiker, all we can do is call for help. Quoting the psalmist, he says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. The good news of the gospel is that in spite of our state, God seeks after us and responds to every plea for help. You might say that God is in the rescue business. Are you a fool today? Have you behaved like a fool in your entire life? There is hope for you even today. Come before God and say like David, ‘I have sinned.’