The Practical Denial of God the Root of All Evil
Psalm 14:1-7
The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.…

The heavy fact of widespread corruption presses on the Psalmist, and starts a train of thought which begins with a sad picture of the deluge of evil, rises to a vision of God's judgment of and on it, triumphs in the prospect of the sudden panic which shall shake the souls of all the "workers of iniquity," when they see that God is with the righteous, and ends with a sigh for the coming of that time. The staple of the poem is but the familiar contrast of a corrupt world and a righteous judge who judges, but it is cast in very dramatic and vivid form here. We listen first to the Psalmist's judgment of his generation. Eras of great culture and material prosperity may have a very seamy side, which eyes accustomed to the light of God cannot fail to see. The root of the evil lay, as the Psalmist believed, in a practical dental of God, and whoever thus denied Him was a "fool." Practical denial or neglect, of His working in the world, rather than a creed of negation, is in the Psalmist's mind. The biblical conception of folly is moral perversity rather than intellectual feebleness, and whoever is morally and religiously wrong cannot be in reality intellectually right. The practical denial of God lies at the root of two forms of evil. Positively, "they have made their doings corrupt and abominable" — rotten ill themselves and sickening and loathsome to pure hearts and to God. Negatively, they do no good things. The next wave of thought (ver. 2) brings into his consciousness the solemn contrast between the godless noise and activity of earth and the silent gaze of God that marks it all. The purpose of the Divine Guest is set forth with deep insight as being the finding of even one good, devout man. Other Scriptures present the gaze of God as for other reasons, this one in the midst of its solemnity is gracious with revelation of Divine desires. What is to be the issue of the strongly contrasted situation in these two verses: beneath, a world full of godless lawlessness; above, a fixed eye piercing to the discernment of the inmost nature of actions and characters? Ver. 3 answers. The Psalmist's sad estimate is repeated as the result of the Divine search. But it is also increased in emphasis and in compass. This stern indictment is quoted by St. Paul in "Romans," as confirmation of his thesis of universal sinfulness. But this baffled quest cannot be the end. If Jehovah seeks in vain for goodness on earth, earth cannot go on forever in godless riot. Therefore, with eloquent abruptness the voice from heaven crashes in upon the "fools" in the full career of their folly. The thunder rolls from a clear sky....Finally, the whole course of thought gathers itself up in the prayer that the salvation of Israel — the true Israel, apparently — were come out of Zion, God's dwelling, from which He comes forth in His delivering power. The voice of the oppressed handful of good men in an evil generation is heard in this closing prayer. It is encouraged by the visions which have passed before the Psalmist. The assurance that God will intervene is the very life breath of the cry to Him that He would. Because we know that He will deliver, therefore we find it in our hearts to pray that He would deliver.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

WEB: 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 Practical Atheist
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