Psalm 14:1 is the biblical definition of an atheist, ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”’ Such a conclusion is not a sign of wisdom but of folly. In biblical usage, fool and folly do not describe an uninformed person but an individual who does not respond appropriately to clear information. God has clearly revealed himself in creation and in the Bible. Wisdom is the ability to use this knowledge correctly and results in an honourable lifestyle. Folly is the inability to use this knowledge appropriately and results in sinful practices, as the psalmist describes in the remainder of verse 1: ‘They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.’
Verses 2 and 3 depict God considering the thoughts and ways of people, assessing their priorities. Instead of seeking God they engage in wrongdoing. Such behaviour does not mark only a few; from the Lord’s perspective, which includes his knowledge of the human heart, it marks every person who does not belong to his people. Yet their blatant rebellion puzzles the psalmist because it suggests they have no knowledge of God. The Lord is so real to him that he finds it difficult to understand how others cannot see him.
Yet the evidence is there that they do not seek God. They oppose his people and do not pray to him (vv. 4-5). The psalmist had a particular occasion in mind because he recalls that the Lord came to rescue and defend his people. On that occasion, the enemies of God became very afraid because they realised that in attacking God’s people they had been opposing God, and now he had come in judgement on his foes.
In particular, these people had treated the counsel of the poor [God’s people] with contempt (v.6). That counsel could been the wisdom to trust in God or it may have been advising the wicked to take the Lord as their refuge.
This psalm describes our society today: a refusal to acknowledge God, a determination to rid our nation of his demands, and contempt for his people and the gospel. But modern Britons cannot stop God assessing their hearts, being present with his people, and coming with judgement. When that judgement falls, they will wish they had heeded the counsel of God’s people.
Verse 7 is David’s prayer that the Lord would restore his church. It should be our prayer too because when that happens, true joy and gladness will mark our society.