297 – Psalm 14 – Introduction

Psalm fourteen is another short but beautiful Psalm weighing in at just seven verses.  It is packed with incredible detail that is easy to miss if we don’t approach it with a teachable attitude. What I mean by that is, often what we read in the Bible seems so obvious that we don’t spend the time to study the passage at hand. We carelessly reach conclusions about the text without effort to keep what we read in context. Because all of the words used are familiar to us we take no time to look up keywords in the original language lexicons.

With just a little effort we can make some interesting observations about the text. For example, did you notice the word “God” is used three times in this Psalm, and the word “Yahweh” is used four times? You might be asking, “why is that important?” I think it’s interesting in light of the first sentence in verse one. The fool has concluded that there is no God, and yet this song from King David makes some interesting declarations about Him. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Let’s go back up to verse one and make a few observations.


Psalm 14:1 (NKJV)

       1       The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

    They are corrupt,

    They have done abominable works,

    There is none who does good.


Let’s look up our first keyword in the original Hebrew, the word fool. We all know what a “fool” is by modern-day definitions, but how did the Old Testament writer define a fool? I consulted about nine different Hebrew lexicons and the glosses they provided were words like worthless, godless; good-for-nothing, miser, unbeliever, senseless, stupid, impious, and wicked.  As a reminder, not every gloss (possible meaning) represents the meaning of a particular word in a particular sentence. For example, the word “start” can mean to begin, commence, be the first step in a process, etc. But if I say, “I’m going to start my car” it does not mean “I’m going to begin my car”. Not every possible meaning is appropriate for every word usage, we must let context help determine the correct definition.

So looking at the list of glosses for the word “fool” it does seem an appropriate synonym for the word “fool” is the word “stupid”. We could accurately read the first sentence as “The stupid person has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Maybe the use of the word “stupid” seems unnecessarily harsh to you. But is the word “fool” really any less harsh? In any case, harsh or not an important truth is declared. The first verse of the Bible declares God’s existence (“in the beginning God…”). All throughout the Holy Bible God’s existence is declared and yet man reaches the conclusion, “there is no God”? 

Let’s look up another word, the word “heart”. According to the Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon the Hebrew word for “heart” can mean inner man, mind, will, and heart. It seems pretty clear that the fool did not decide in his blood-pumping organ that God does not exist, but rather in his mind or his will. The fool, no matter how hard he might try to convince you, did not pour over all the evidence, then come to the natural conclusion that there is no God. No, he chose to not believe in God.

The remaining sentence in verse one gives us some detail about the category of people known as fools. The sentence is declarative and does not allow for exceptions. What does it tell us about fools? “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” According to this passage, it is never correct to say of an atheist, “he is a good person, he just doesn’t believe there is a God”. He’s not a good person. He’s corrupt and his behavior is wicked. Yahweh felt this was an important enough truth to repeat in Psalm 53:1.


Psalm 53:1 (NKJV)

           1       The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

    They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;

    There is none who does good.


As a matter of fact, it is uncanny how much of Psalm 14 is repeated in Psalm 53. Putting them side by side for comparison would be a powerful study in itself. When I read Psalm 53 I thought there was something wrong with my Bible software. I thought it didn’t navigate to Psalm 53 but was still on Psalm 14. Do you know what it means when God repeats Himself? It’s a big billboard shouting PAY ATTENTION!

I found Psalm fourteen to be a very rewarding study so far and worthy of meditation. It is simply one more piece of evidence that Yahweh truly is worthy of all praise, worship, adoration, and service.

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