Many times in the psalms and even in the rest of scripture, those who choose to live their lives apart from God are almost envied. Because of a skewed perspective, it seems that their lives always go the way they want it to; they have everything they need and more. But Psalm 14 is a reality check for us who know God and how we view those who don’t know Him. Wisdom in the Bible is learning to see things from God’s perspective.
So, beginning in verse 1, we see how God views those who choose to live as if He doesn’t exist. He calls them “fools.” A fool is not someone who couldn’t know God through some deficiency or even lack of knowledge. A fool is someone who knows down deep in the core of his being that there is a God but chooses to live as if He doesn’t exist. Implied in this word is also the concept of withering, fading, even falling. Eventually, this is the fate of all who choose to live apart from God. Their lives might look full and fruitful for a time but everything for which they are living will not last. It will wear out, it will break down, it will go out of style.
In contrast, the believer in Jesus Christ has an inheritance waiting that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. (cf. 1 Peter 1:4) In fact, the word “sin” that characterizes their lives gives the sense of living for what will decay, be ruined and corrupted. In verse 4, the psalmist says they do not understand. It means they are exerting themselves for what will be in vain. It won’t bring any lasting value, worth, fulfillment or satisfaction. He says they “consume” people as if they were eating bread. We see the sad truth all around us today. People just using other people to get what they selfishly want out of life.
In verse 6, they desire to bring shame to those who are less fortunate. Instead of helping the needy, they flaunt their own livelihood to bring further humiliation. What a miserable existence without God. How narcissistic and self-absorbed man can become. David informs us in verse 2 that the Lord looks down from heaven to see if there is anyone who seeks after God. It’s a bleak picture of man being so focused on earthly things and his own life that he takes no time or makes no time to focus on God. Even we who know God need to be careful in this area and, as the author of Hebrews states in Hebrews 2:3, never neglect so great a salvation. In other words, our spiritual life may be suffering, not through some act of overt disobedience, but just through neglect.
David ends this psalm with the truth that God can and will restore His people. The word “restore” means to refresh, repair, bring back. Maybe your discouragement lies today with the act of comparing yourself with someone else, even those who choose to live apart from God. But in this psalm we have been brought back to reality. Though the ungodly may seemingly prosper for a time in earthly ways, there is nothing of eternal value in the way they live their lives. So, let’s heed the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:20 and begin accumulating for ourselves treasures in heaven.
For His glory,