Thursday, February 2, 2012

Psalm 14

Psalm 14
A psalm describing the corruption of atheism.

"To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. 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. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no not one." (verses 1-3)

          In this direct and open psalm, David describes for us a certain type of individual, the "fool", as well as the direct results of his beliefs, found all throughout recorded human history. To him belongs the reoccurring saga of humanity, a tragic drama played out in different eras and cultural contexts, yet with the same basic plot. Those who deny God, whose lives reflect no apparent accountability heavenward, have long been the perpetrators of the most devastating human atrocities committed throughout the ages. One needs merely to glance at the annals of history to confirm the truth of this. "Ah, but," one might argue, "what of all the crimes committed in the name of religion? Do not these far surpass the crimes of the practical atheist?" To understand this, one must look deeper into the heart of mankind as a whole, for David goes on to actually answer this question before you asked it. In God's eyes, as He examines the heart of all humanity, there is not one single individual whose heart is pure. In fact, left to himself, every last man on earth would choose his own way instead of God's way. In practice and in heart, every man is godless, every man a fool. Though many profess faith in various deities, a variety of philosophies, and a host of religions, man remains at heart, an atheist(1). As a race, we humans deny God at every turn, choosing our own way at every opportunity. We live unto ourselves alone,  giving little or no thought to God. Thus, the majority of the wickedness perpetrated by mankind was done with the heart of the atheist, who proclaims foolishly, "There is no God;" or in other words, "I won't have to give an account for my actions."
            Faith is the only means by which mankind can escape his own nature. Faith is a gift from God to every human on earth. It is not a virtue, nor even a moral characteristic. Rather, faith is a facet of the human make-up, as we were all created in the image of our Creator. It is our line of connection to the spiritual realm we are also members of. It is what enables us to access the vertical while dwelling in the horizontal. God has not given some people more and some people less faith, but a measure has been given to each one. How it is applied both shows where our trust lies and determines the course of our lives. What do most men put their trust in? What do we put our trust in? Financial security? What the experts say? A political party? A sustainable lifestyle? Healthy food and exercise? Our own wit, logic, and talents? We all have certain things we are inclined to put our stock into for our present and future happiness. When we do so, we are using our measure of faith and applying it to that which we trust in. Again, faith is not a virtue. It is actually quite like our five senses. For example, a rose exists, whether or not our five senses apprehend it's existence, does it not? Blindness and nerve damage may prevent a man from seeing or feeling it's existence, but the absence of power to substantiate the reality of a rose does not cause it to cease to exist. It simply exists. Just as we have physical faculties to experience physical realities, we have spiritual faculties to experience spiritual realities. Faith is our spiritual sense by which we apprehend for ourselves the reality of things that exist in the spiritual realm.       
            Salvation is one such spiritual reality. We cannot grasp how or why it works, but if we take God at His WORD and trust in what Jesus did on the cross, we receive the reality of new spiritual birth. Practically, it is as real and concrete as the physical realm, perhaps more so; but it is not physical, so it cannot be discerned by our physical senses. If we only rely on what we can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, we will miss out on an entire reality accessible through simple faith. The natural man, or atheist, is concerned only with what is material. He lives on a horizontal plain and cannot fathom the depths and heights of the spiritual world all around him. His faith is only in what he can see, touch, and physically substantiate.
            This is who David speaks of in this psalm.  A fool, David calls him, and he goes on to describe the natural consequences of this materialistic world view.  Corruption and abominable works follow those who place their faith in only that which is tangible. Remember Stalin? He said once that men were like blades of grass, and believed that there was no more sin in cutting a lawn than in cutting down men. He saw humans as simply living material, and thus it should be no surprise that he was responsible for the mass murder of over 80 million of his own citizens.  Remember Hitler? Over 14 million people were murdered by this man who saw it as his evolutionary right to select who lived and who died. Remember Mao? Tens of millions dead. He is recorded to have once said, "We have so many people, we can afford to lose a few."(2) And why not? If the only reality is matter, why not? 
           God alone sees men's hearts and finds that we all, apart from His grace, will not rise above our own intelligence and senses to seek after Him. So... He sought after us! He revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ and draws us to Himself by His Holy Spirit. When we grasp what He has offered us in the spiritual realm: SALVATION from sin and death, and we trust Him to indeed SAVE us, we are thus SAVED! It is a spiritual reality, as real as you are, and it is only acquired by faith!

"Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call on the LORD? There they are in great fear, for God is with the generation of the righteous. You shame the counsel of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad." (verses 4-7)

          In the second half of this psalm, David takes on a different tone. In the form of a question, he indirectly rebukes the godless, essentially reminding them that they WILL indeed have to give an account. David in essence asks, "Do they have no knowledge, that they should do such evil and not believe in God?" Romans 1:18-25 says that all of creation declares the existence of the all powerful God to every man, " that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:20-22). Yes, there is a God and to Him all men will give an account. Following this train of thought, David exposes the hidden fear in every atheist's heart, for it is the fear of every man without God. Death. The inevitable door to the spiritual realm that most have spent their entire lives denying or suppressing. Death... the door to the judgment seat of Christ. No wonder they are in great fear! Romans 1:18 says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." This is heavy stuff. Little wonder why people who reject Christ become so hostile at the very mention of Him! Romans 1:28 says of them, "...they did not like to retain God in their knowledge..." 
            But David does not dwell on the wicked any longer and addresses the security of those who DO trust in God. "Those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage," (Hebrews 2:15), who have chosen to put their faith in the God who offers free salvation from death and judgment! These are the righteous, for their righteousness is imputed to them by God Himself. God is with them. The LORD protects them, and shelters them. 
         Suddenly, David cries out, with great feeling, his longing for the day that God will save His people from captivity. As he wrote this, Israel was not as yet in captivity, thus David is likely speaking prophetically of either Christ's first or second coming. Taken one way, he is expectant of the day that the Messiah would come to Zion and save people from the captivity of their sins; taken the other way, he is expectant of the day the Messiah will return in glory and power to Zion and gather His elect from the four corners of the earth to rule the world in righteousness. Either way, David is looking far forward in the future to the end of sin's hold on men's hearts and the end of men's corruption on the earth. It is a glorious thought, and a real hope! We, some three thousand years later, have seen the first come to pass. The Messiah did come, and salvation is now available to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, we too still see the corruption of men's hearts all around us, and like David look forward to the day that salvation will come out of Zion and the LORD restores the captivity of His people! That will be a day of great rejoicing and gladness for all of those who have put their trust in Him!

1. atheist definition:
2. Stalin, Hitler, Mao:

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