Faithlife Sermons

6-28-2020 Looking Down on People Psalm 14

Psalms Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:58
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{{Does every human hold worth? is there such a thing as worthless people? with our Christian worldview, our “right to life movement?” The answer is clear… or is it?}}
Many years ago, a lawyer from Columbus Ohio once told a story of a case or a case study that he would use when he taught at Purdue and a few other places. The case study was about this atheist group who were extremely upset with the state of Florida and so they brought a lawsuit which made it all the way up to the highest court in Florida. So they're sitting there in front of the judge making this claim that as they open up their store bought calendars, these calendars always have holidays in it. The atheist argument was either we need to remove these holidays, or we need to add one or include several atheist holidays. And the judge listening considers their comments for a moment and responded like this: “Sir, Atheists do have a holiday. It's April 1. Because the word of god says in Psalm 14, ‘the fool says in his heart: There is no god.” This, of course, brought the case to a close as the atheists begin to realize they will not win with this judge who is a believer and knows the word of God. He gets to the heart of this passage that as these atheist open their mouths, we discover they are fools just as King David, under inspiration, says.
Think about what the foolish atheist group was asking for. They were asking for “holy days” it's really known as a holiday-- we call them holidays, but really they are to represent a holy day. Holiday is a made up word. It used to be the 2 words: holy day. But in their world view, there's no such thing as something being holy. Recognize in an atheist worldview, there's no such thing as holy because there's no god. God is the definition of holiness, and must exist in order to have a holy day.
Does this make them worthless?
How that just Judge understood it was rights and so as we look at Psalm 14, David describes for us 2 things:
He describes for us the practical atheist. And then we're also going to see and rejoice with David in this regard
This great God, and His righteousness, and the salvation that we have in Him.
Psalm 14 is generally considered to be an individual lament, and in tone, it is, because the psalmist grieves over the vacuum of faith in his world. But it does not follow the usual form of a lament. Others have suggested it is a wisdom psalm, in view of its use of wisdom language. In wisdom terms, the word “fool” stands opposite the “wise,” which is here expressed by the two clauses, “any who understand” and “any who seek God” (14:2). Yet that is as much wisdom as we see in the psalm. The truth of the matter is that this is one of those psalms that does not fall neatly into any of the categories scholars have made.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 14
Psalm 14 LEB
For the music director. Of David. 1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt. They do abominable deeds. There is none who does good. 2 Yahweh looks down from heaven upon the children of humankind to see whether there is one who has insight, one who cares about God. 3 All have gone astray; they are altogether corrupt. There is not one who does good; there is not even one. 4 All who do evil—do they not know, they who eat my people as though they were eating bread? They do not call on Yahweh. 5 There they are very fearful because God is with the generation of the righteous. 6 You would put to shame the plan of the poor, because Yahweh is his refuge. 7 Oh that from Zion would come salvation for Israel! When Yahweh returns the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be happy.
If human depravity is the spiritual malady that marks every generation of human history—and considering Genesis through Revelation and beyond, we have good reason to believe it is—the denial of God is common to every age, even though it may look a little different in each century and in each culture. It goes without saying that this vacuum of faith is more keenly discerned by godly men and women. When King David looked at the behavior of his enemies here, he recognized that their denial of God’s existence had a direct correlation to the moral decline of his day. The deniers in his day were not holding their protest in the public squares, but in their evil works gave public clarity to their denial of God.
this song song is so important that under inspiration, God, through David, has decided to include this song twice here in chapter 14 and also in chapter 53. Chapter 53 is not a perfect carbon copy, but is essentially communicating the exact same truths.
So the Israelites had a choice that still rings true today - either believe God or man, the choice is easy for anyone but the choice will be dependent on their perspective.

I. Two Perspectives to Choose From (14:1-4)

The dichotomy is very distinctive: Mankind’s perspective or YHWH’s
Contrasting perspectives
Contrasting Concept: When GQ magazine honored actor Matthew McConaughey as one of the 2013 “Men of the Year,” he explained in his interview why he chose to “go in the shadows” for a portion of his career: “I got much more selfish. I’m a fan of the word selfish. Self. Ish. When I say I have gotten a lot more self-ish, I mean I am less concerned with what people think of me. I’m not worried about how I’m perceived. Selfish has always gotten a bad rap. You should do for you. I wanted new experiences.”
Interestingly, in the same magazine, author George Saunders was also honored as the “Life Coach of the Year 2013.” In response to the question, “How to Be Decent?” Saunders responded, “The big kahuna of all moral questions, as far as I’m concerned, is ego. How do you correct the fundamental misperception that we are all born with, i.e.: I am permanent, I am enduring, I am central. All of the nasty stuff in this life comes out of that misunderstanding.” -- That was in the very same issue of GQ!
Psalm 14:1 LEB
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt. They do abominable deeds. There is none who does good.
David's focus now is upon the practical atheist. At this moment, we know David has to be talking about practical atheism because during the time that he wrote, there was no such thing as an actual atheist. It didn't exist. Everyone, everyone at this time in the history of the world believed in at least one divine being or a supernatural ruler, and some surrounding nations believed in a plurality of gods. There was not a single person walking on this earth when David wrote this that did not believe in a god. And yet he says here, “The fool says… there is no god.” So what in the world, or who in the world is David talking about? Who is he talking about? To understand who, the word fool literally means “a worthless person.”
The fool is epitomized in the Nabal of 1 Samuel 25:25.” First Samuel 25 provides a personalized picture of the fool in the person of David’s enemy Nabal, who even carried that exact Hebrew name.
1 Samuel 25:25 LEB
Please do not let my lord set his heart against this worthless man, Nabal; for as his name, so is he. Nabal is his name, and stupidity is with him! But I, your female servant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.
Nabal is a fool, for more understanding of what a fool is, Proverbs offers a much more descriptive picture. One verse in particular strikes me as interesting considering our day and age:
Proverbs 18:2 LEB
A fool will not take pleasure in understanding, but in expressing his heart.
how many people do you know that just love to express what’s in their heart? when someone says, “I just need to vent” what they’re really saying is: “I’m not willing to understand the situation, I only want to speak my mind-and that’s all!”
Prov 14:1
The fool’s negativism and its effects are described in four ways:
(1) his/her claim: “There is no God” (14:1a);
(2) his/her immoral behavior: “they are corrupt, their deeds are vile” (14:1b);
(3) the general social decay: “there is no one who does good” (this becomes the refrain of this lament song: vv.1 & 3)
(4) their lack of prayer: “they never call on the LORD” (verse 4).
Psalm 14:2 LEB
Yahweh looks down from heaven upon the children of humankind to see whether there is one who has insight, one who cares about God.
The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind.
Genesis 11:5 describes the Lord as coming down from heaven to investigate the earthly situation.
Genesis 11:5 LEB
Then Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower that humankind was building.
The verb translated as “looks down” means “look intently,” or “to look out” (the window). It suggests a careful surveying of the human situation (NIV: “mankind”; lit., “sons of adam,” bene ’adam).
Psalm 14:3 LEB
All have gone astray; they are altogether corrupt. There is not one who does good; there is not even one.
King David laments the depravity of the human condition with the terms “all,” “together” (ESV; NIV: “all”), “there is no one,” and “not even one.”
You see the practical atheist is in theological terms total depravity. Notice there there is none who does good repeated from verse one and is carried over into the next part. Mankind is corrupt and no amount of charitable philanthropy, humanitarianism, or altruism will change that. Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life and fittingly, the Bible calls even the most altruistic atheist a worthless fool. Why? David says it is because there is none who does “good.” Jesus & Paul repeat this in the N.T. YHWH is the source and definition of Good and apart from Him, you can do nothing good.
With the understanding that “all have become corrupt,” David begins the description of what he means by “all have turned away,” as he cites their wicked deeds to describe this turning aside.
Psalm 14:4 LEB
All who do evil—do they not know, they who eat my people as though they were eating bread? They do not call on Yahweh.
—this is God’s analysis report. Their ravenous appetite is so malicious that they don’t even hesitate when God’s people are the entrée than when their daily bread is set before them. They are devoid of human compassion, the default mode of their atheistic living. The correlation between the denial of God and moral decline is clearly implicit between the lines.
my people
In the first person (“my people”) we hear the Lord’s voice, perhaps an oracle, or simply King David speaking prophetically on God’s behalf. Their evil deeds reach their pathetic climax in the ease and routine with which they destroy God’s people, like sitting down to eat their meal and enjoying it {[Micah 3:3.}]
Micah 3:3 LEB
and who eat the flesh of my people, and strip their skin from them, and break their bones, and chop them like meat in the pot, and like flesh in the midst of a cooking pot.”
Denying God does not improve human morals
In today’s world, there is a movement called the “new atheism,” spread by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. It is different from the “old” atheism that was largely based on philosophical grounds. Rather, this is supposedly based on the growing body of new discoveries, particularly about the universe and its origins. Interestingly, the uniqueness of Psalm 14 (and 53) is that it gives us an inside look into God’s mind. Although the God-deniers of this psalm are most likely not “fools” as we think of in the intellectual sense, they look at the universe and cannot see God in the incalculable wonders of nature or hear his voice in the beauty of love. Lamentably, our increased understanding of the universe has done little or nothing to change the way we human beings treat one another. While the Holocaust and modern terrorism cannot be blamed on modern science (except the technological means to facilitate such hatred), they are defiant examples of the evil of humankind despite our prolific scientific understanding of our world now.
So there you have it for today-- it is trust in the big bang, or trust in our Big, Mighty God. And despite what you hear about “relative truth” there is only one real absolutely right choice

II. But Only One Righteous Choice (14:5–6)

David starts transitioning here in these next two verses pushing the practical atheist out of the limelight and giving our great God the glory.
Psalm 14:5 LEB
There they are very fearful because God is with the generation of the righteous.
God is present in the company of the righteous. This is the same idea as Isaiah 7:14, “God with us,” and, while less formulaic than the covenant formula (“that I may dwell in their midst,” Exod. 25:8 RSV, ESV), it has the same sense.
This adverb (sham) applies both to the place (“company of the righteous”) and time of fear (“overwhelmed with dread”) that overwhelm these God-deniers and to the place where they will find God. Verses 5–6 correspond to Ps 53:5
Psalm 53:5 LEB
There they are very fearful where no fear had been, because God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you. You have put them to shame, because God has rejected them.
and the second half of this verse 5 here in Psalm 53 is verse 6 in our passage this morning:
Psalm 14:6 LEB
You would put to shame the plan of the poor, because Yahweh is his refuge.
the plans of the poor.
The “poor” is parallel to the “righteous” (from v.5), and they are probably synonymous. The “plans” are likely the intentions of the poor/righteous to keep the covenant, given the covenant nuances of the psalm (“my people,” “the LORD,” “salvation for Israel,” “his people,” 14:4, 7). They are the opposite of those who “never call on the LORD” from verse 4 who are likely rich in the world’s eyes but are spiritually poor.
Ravi Zacharias tells the story about one-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali: “Ali was flying to one of his engagements and during the flight the aircraft ran into foul weather. The passengers were instructed to fasten their seatbelts immediately, and all complied but Ali. So the flight attendant approached him and requested that he buckle up, only to hear him audaciously respond, ‘Superman don’t need no seatbelt.’ The flight attendant, however, did not miss a beat and quickly replied, “Superman don’t need no airplane either!’”
Unfortunately some people today have assumed that they don’t need the seatbelt of Scripture to navigate through life’s turbulence. It is the shameful plans, or lack thereof, of the rich of this world who are spiritually poor.
Those who prey on God’s people and deny the existence of the Lord, those who go their way purposefully saying, “No, God,” will have their day. But there’s coming a day when the Lord Jesus will truly rule and reign from Jerusalem. At that time, the arrogant man will be put in his place and things will, at last, be right. What a grand and glorious day it will be!

III. So Make the Salvation Choice (14:7)

This wish prayer which ends this song, shifts the focus from oppressors and oppressed in the society to the whole people and its future. David prays for the “salvation of Israel” to come out of Zion, the dwelling-place of YHWH.
Psalm 14:7 LEB
Oh that from Zion would come salvation for Israel! When Yahweh returns the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be happy.
The Lord will one day “restore the fortunes of his people.” The prayer yearns for a salvation that would change the present time of distress to one of rejoicing in the LORD, a time that includes oppressor and oppressed alike. I’ll be at David is talking about is more of a physical salvation as understood in the old testament times we know he is also referencing the spiritual salvation with his mentions of the moral state being absent of good but thanks be to Jesus, the Christ that we make a much greater salvation choice:
So what is the salvation choice?
It is you, personally, receiving, by faith, the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation; believing the Bible to be the divinely inspired, plenary/complete, infallible, and authoritative Word of God; accepting that your salvation is wholly of grace through faith in the blood sacrifice, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; that all who receive Him are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and become children of God; and that no rite, no ceremony, or work can avail for a sinner's salvation or make your salvation more secure; that Christ is the only and all-sufficient Savior.
In order to “be saved,” you must be born again; that this new birth is you as a new creation in Christ Jesus. It is instantaneous and not a process; that in the new birth, the one dead in trespasses and in sins is made a partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life, the free gift of God; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and newness of life. Salvation restores our judicial relationship to God, and the penalty incurred by sin is fully satisfied through the death of Christ. You must believe that it is given, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith by grace. There is a process that begins at salvation and culminates in glorification; this process of growth should occur in the lives of all believers, and it is effectual through the influence of the Holy Spirit, the study of the Bible, a consistent prayer life, faithful involvement in a Bible-believing local church, and daily obedience to scriptural truths. But this doesn’t mean that you will become perfect now since man still possesses a sinful nature after salvation, sinless perfection is not possible in this life, but only in the life to come.

So What?

We may draw upon the “Key Themes” for the “So What?” on this psalm.
Key Themes of Psalm 14
▪ The psalmist perceives a vacuum of faith.
▪ God is found in the “company of the righteous.
First, the psalmist draws out the vacuum of faith (“There is no God”) that exists in his world, with its practical manifestation of moral decline. While it may be more a practical denial of God than a philosophical one, the two are interrelated. This negative correlation is a design of every historical era—in varying degrees, of course—and is the other side of Paul’s statement that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20).
And so this is the practical atheists which refuses to live as if God does not see man's evil. It is the one that says, “God, You can't see me. You don't know what I'm doing.” That's the practical atheist is the one who thinks that YHWH is not all knowing. And amid our sin, we think we can hide something from God—that's the practical atheist--there's no need for God in this situation. In this circumstance of my life, there's no need to turn to God, I've got this. That's the practical atheist.
Second, the vacuum of faith turns out to be the proverbial vacuum that seeks to be filled. Faith’s vacuum is not a dead spot but a potentially powerful force that, once pricked by the grace of God, will inflate to the full capacity of faith. In other words, this is a time of opportunity! Admittedly, with the negativism of Psalm 14 it is tempting to focus our thoughts on the “atheistic” motif of this psalm, but the focus of this song is as much on God, if not more so, as on the theologically absentminded world of the day. David insists that there is a place, or an experience, or perhaps a mental state, where God breaks through: verse 5 “there they are, overwhelmed with dread” ([Ps 14:5]).
Psalm 14:5 LEB
There they are very fearful because God is with the generation of the righteous.
That is, somehow God breaks through with a moment of clarity and certainty, and that moment is God’s lightning flash that lights up the landscape before all goes black again. Unbelief is laid down in a world that God looks down upon from heaven, and he meets its doubters in the venue of his revelation, in the “company of the righteous” (14:5).
God’s Word has the power to transform
Philip Yancey relates how he went to Sweden after reading the historical accounts of the Vikings. According to Yancey, for 250 years prayers in Europe ended with the words, “Lord, save us from the Vikings.” The Vikings were known as a brutal people, guilty of rape, pillaging, and barbarism. And yet, today Sweden is known for charity, cleanliness, honesty, and hospitality. What brought about this change in culture? Yancey explains, “Christianity happened. It took several centuries, but gradually the moral principles of the Christian gospel percolated up to affect all of society.” In every culture there are people who are evildoers, corrupt and vile. And yet the Word of God has the power to transform individuals who then transform the culture. No matter how vile a culture, there is always hope (14:7).
In Conclusion:
Human denial of God is not enough to make God keep his distance. Rather, He will make himself known to the God protestors “in the company of the righteous.” God encounters them in the events of life and in the company of His people. Running from God, they meet him on their escape route with His penetrating question “Where are you going?”—that is the surprise. But if they could bring themselves to give the genuine people of God a chance, they would find Him especially there—to no surprise at all.
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