Year B – Proper 12 – Psalm 14

To the leader. Of David.

1 Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon the Lord?
5 There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
6 You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

SummaryThere are people—fools—who say in their hearts that there is no God, so that they can do abominable deeds (v.1).   The omniscient God investigates mankind, as it were, to see whether anybody at all is wise—which is to say, whether anybody at all seeks after God (v.2); devastatingly, His conclusion is that we all have gone astray, we are all alike perverse, and not one of us does good (v.3).  Don’t those who hate His people have any knowledge at all (v.4)?  Don’t they know that God is, and that He has spoken, and that He will judge?  They may block God out of their minds, now, so that they need not fear God when they sin (v.1), but the day is coming when they will fear Him, and in great terror (v.5).  Why?  Well, for some, because they have messed with the poor, and God is the refuge of the poor (v.6), and He will not hold him guiltless who messes with the poor.  O that deliverance from Zion would come into this messed up world and into our messed up hearts (v.7)!  And deliverance has come, from Zion, into our world and into our hearts: The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, and whose Spirit continues to dwell among us and within us.  Praise be to God!

Insight Those who say in their hearts that there is no God, often say so with only their hearts—their lips may say very Christian things.  Often, they say this in their hearts by choosing to forget that God is, and that He watches.  They, in their hearts, intentionally forget that God is, so that they may sin without consciousness of God looking over their shoulders.  They are fools.  They are you and I, every time we sin.  Sin always involves atheistic lapses: you cannot sin willfully while fully embracing God for all that He says He is.  

Child Catechism
Q:  Who says in his or her heart that there is no God?
A:  The fool.

DiscussionAre you as conscious of God while sinning as you are while worshipping?  What changes?  Is God less actually real at this time than at that time?  Or what is going on in our hearts that makes the difference?  Do we intentionally orient our hearts away from faith, when it’s convenient?

PrayerAlmighty God and Everlasting Father, we are foolish when we sin, for we say in our hearts that You are not.  You look down from heaven on us to see whether any of us are wise, in seeking after You—you see that apart from Your grace, we do not.  We have all gone astray, and none of us do good unless You do it in us.  But You do do it in us, for deliverance has come from Zion: Jesus, Your Son, our Lord; and so, we will rejoice and be glad in He who always gives us the victory.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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