The Fool’s Folly & The Faithful’s Comfort
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 3/9/03
We do not know the circumstance that motivated David to write this song. But we do know from the context that he had in mind what I call practical atheists. The natural question is, "What’s a practical atheist?" It is a person who tries to convince himself that there is no God, lives like there is no God, and denies that he is accountable to God. That reminds me of a person who does not believer in fire. Just because he believes that to be true, won’t keep the fire from burning him when its flame licks some part of his body. So it is with the practical atheist! God exists, His rules apply to atheist, and He will judge him regardless of what he believes.
Let’s take a closer look at the words and verses of this song (Psalm 14)
" The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…"
First, let’s look at the word fool. It is a translation for the Hebrew word lbn nabal. I like how one author described the meaning of nabal -- fading, dying, or falling away, as a withered leaf or flower; it is a title given to the foolish man who has lost the juice and sap of wisdom, reason, honesty, and godliness." The person is focus is a sapless person, a carcass of a man, a walking sepulcher of himself, in whom all true wisdom and right reason is withered, wasted, dried up and decayed.
Next we come to the statement of this walking sepulcher -- no God! This is the thinking of the fool. So what does that mean? The word God is a translation of the Hebrew word Elohim. When you know that the word Elohim means supreme judge, ruler and sovereign, you see that the fool is saying, "There is no Elohim, no Judge or governor of the world, [and] no providence presiding over the affairs of men that will hold him accountable."
The fool desires to be rid of that Elohim, who is the great moral Governor, the Patron of rectitude and the Punisher of iniquity. But that will not happen. Romans 14:12 says, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
Let’s move on to…
"…They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."
First, they are corrupt. C. H. Spurgeon says, "this refers to all men, and we have the warrant of the Holy Ghost for so saying; see the third chapter of the epistle to the Romans." In a very real sense, those who reject God and His rules, as I pointed out earlier, are practical atheists. They are corrupt, that is they are perverted, rotten, and ruined. All unsaved sinners are corrupt in themselves; they have corrupt natures, they are born in sin.
Next, "they have done abominable works…." When you have a corrupt mind and a corrupt nature, it follows that your actions, your behavior will reflect that corruption. While every sinful action is abominable in the sight of God, there are some sins more abominable than others. Certainly those sins referenced in Romans 1:24-28, by those who "did not like to retain God in their knowledge have to rank high on the list.
"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;"
A life lived without the moral compass of God and His Word is a corrupt, futile, worthless live.
The last phrase in verse 1 is, "…there is none that doeth good." The phrase needs no explanation. All men are sinners. But, there’s more!
"The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
Put it all together and what a picture of our race it is. The Apostle Paul quotes a good portion of this section in Romans 3:10-12. The point is, all people are sinners and need salvation from sin!
"Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD."
The phrase "who eat up my people as they eat bread" refers to persecution and in this context, persecution of the Jews. You can be sure, wherever groups of unsaved people are, there will be persecution. But, what is at the root of persecution? I submit that hatred of God and corruptness of life are the forces that produce persecution. In their ignorance, unsaved people who have no heart for God, amuse themselves and try to make themselves look good by harassing, bullying, humiliating those they despise.
"There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous."
This verse is a very telling verse! It says, the wicked are afraid of judgment because they see that God is with believers. Remember, we have been talking about people who claim there is no God and ignore His Word. However, this shows that they had some knowledge of God, and a guilty conscience, which they attempted to banish out of their minds because of their fears of judgment. However, these fears of even the most atheistic of people cannot be gotten rid of. Proverbs 28:1 says, "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion."
The God will judge godless people who they refuse to acknowledge Him and obey His Word. But, the faithful, those who have faith in the Lord have a bright heavenly future. I am reminded of what the Apostle Peter wrote, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:" 2 Peter 2:9
The songwriter says the comfort for the believer is this…
The second coming of Christ will finally put an end to the dominion of sin and Satan. What a day that will be for believing Jews and Gentiles alike. The believer can’t wait for the Lord to return!
In conclusion, let review the main points of this message.
If Christ is not your Savior, you are in a precarious position. You are
on a crash course for damnation. My advice to you is this -- Repent and
believe in Christ.