A Psalm of David

Another psalm by Israel’s great king.  As psalm 11 discussed wicked men in the future days of the anti-Christ and psalm 12 discussed wicked men in our current situation at the end of the dispensation of grace, now psalm 14 discusses the wicked men of the past who lived in David’s own day.  David examines these men and tells us about them.

1.  The fool has said in his heart,

Unfortunately, we get the wrong idea when we see the English word “fool” here.  In Hebrew the word does not mean MENTALLY deficient, as we think of it when we think of the word “fool,” but rather means MORALLY deficient.

“There is no God.”

David reveals to us by the Spirit of God the real motivation of those who claim there is no God.  It is not some intellectual conclusion they have come to as a result of impartial reasoning.  No, it is a biased view brought about by their desire to have no one to answer to for their morally deficient lifestyles.  It is this that causes them to claim there is no God, but this is just wishful thinking on their part.  For creation is full of evidence that there is indeed a God!

This is another emendation of the Sopherim.  The originally text here read not “There is no God,” but rather “There is no LORD,” or “There is no Yahweh.”  It is not just the concept of a God that they reject, but the concept of a God like Yahweh.  A God in their own image would suit many fools just fine, but a God like Yahweh would never do!

They are corrupt,

I have met people who claim to be atheists, and this seems to apply to them perfectly!

They have done abominable works,

And it is these that they do not want to have to answer to Yahweh for!

There is none who does good.

This is the censure of the fool.  Yet the truth goes far beyond this, as we will find out in the subsequent verses.

2.  The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men,

We are presented with the picture of Yahweh (the all-capitals “LORD” always indicates that the original text read “Yahweh” or “Jehovah,”) looking down from heaven upon His people.  No doubt this is not just a picture of something He does now and then, but rather something He is constantly doing.  He is ever concerned with what is happening upon His planet Earth.  Moreover, it is upon the sons of Adam that He looks.  Adam’s race is indeed the dominant feature upon this earth.

To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.

We are presented with the picture of Yahweh looking for a man like this.  Of course, we know that He already knows what He will find, but this picture is presented to us to remind us of Who it is Who is looking, and why it is we can trust that the results He finds are accurate.

3.  They have all turned aside,

What a grim reality this is!  If it were not God Himself Who said it, we would have a hard time believing it.  Men would always like to justify themselves and believe that somehow they can be righteous in their own merit.  Yet God knows the truth and has declared it for us to learn and take to heart.

They have together become corrupt;

Not one is excluded!

There is none who does good,

How we would all like to think of ourselves as “good people!”  Yet this is not true.  We do not do good.  So many of our “good works” have selfish motives…often such that we do not even realize it.  Yet our righteousnesses are like filthy rags in His sight.  (Isaiah 64:6)

No, not one.

This solemnly emphasizes the universality of the condemnation.  There is not even one exception to this rule.  Even those translated like Enoch and Elijah were no different in this regard.

4.  Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge,

Although these words apply beautifully to every day and age since the fall of Adam, the fact is that David was specifically focusing on the wicked men of his own time.  Now he in frustration questions how it is that they can do these things and think they can get away with them?

Between verses 3 and 4 there are four extra verses in the Septuagint.  It appears that these verses were a scribal note that found their way into the text, so we will not attempt to reinsert them here.

Who eat up my people as they eat bread,

In other words, they are destroying their fellow man to meet their own selfish desires.  We have many like them among us today!

And do not call on the LORD?

It is hard for us to think that during the reign of such a righteous king as David that such men were common, but it is unfortunately so.

5.  There they are in great fear,

In Hebrew this reads, “They feared a fear.”  This is the Hebrew figure of speech “Polyptoton” or “Many Inflections,” where a verb is repeated in different inflections as a form of emphasis.  The translators have interpreted the sense of the figure of speech by suggesting a “great” fear.

For God is with the generation of the righteous.

This looks ahead to the great Day of the Kingdom, when God will be with the righteous and all who oppose them will have good reason to be afraid.  These wicked men don’t seem to understand that this day will ever come, which fact caused David’s complaint in verse 4.  Yet to David that this day will come is as sure as yesterday, and then these wicked men will face the fear they thought would never come as they did their destructive acts.

The word “God” here is again supposed to be Yahweh, but was changed by the Sopherim.  It seems they thought that Yahweh is too high and mighty to be with the generation of the righteous!

6.  You shame the counsel of the poor,

The “poor” here are the oppressed, not necessarily those who lack material possessions.  This is David’s condemnation of those who shame them and do not fear the Day to come.

But the LORD is his refuge.

He was the refuge for the oppressed in David’s day, and He still is a true refuge today for those who trust in Him!

7.  Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!

Just as verse 6 returned to the topic of verse 4, verse 7 returns to the topic of verse 5.  The Kingdom is when the wicked will be repaid and the righteous protected, and how David longed for that day to come!  And how we must long for it even today, for we see these same sorrows on every side among us as well!

When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people,

This is one of the first things the LORD will do when His Kingdom takes control of the earth.  In fact, Jeremiah 16:14-15 states that the miracle will be so great when He returns all the Israelites everywhere to their land that no one will even think to mention the miraculous departure from Egypt in comparison!

Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

This will indeed be a great day for God’s chosen people.  No doubt they will be rejoicing, and those who love the things of God from all nations will no doubt rejoice with them.

Notice that this psalm does not close with a dedication to the Chief Musician.  That indicates that this was a more private psalm for David’s own use, although it now has been canonized in Scripture for our learning.