Let’s talk about fools today. We often assume that when we call someone a fool, we are describing an intellectual incapacity. We think about foolishness as a lack of common sense, or making poor decisions. When a friend does something foolish, we respond with “Well, that was stupid!” Foolish behavior is seen as a function of the mind, and fools lack the wherewithal to “know better.” Fools are imprudent and silly.
In David’s time, however, the word fool was more a factor of heart than mind. Foolish behavior came from a place of morality, not intellect. Thus fools were the ones who were morally bankrupt evildoers, regardless of intelligence. Fools believed there is no God.
David makes it clear in Psalm 14 that he considers anyone who rejects God to be corrupt and perverse. He complains that there are few people who seek God, stating that everyone has gone astray. He draws a clear line between those who accept God for who he is and those who contend that there is no God:
Psalm 14 (New Revised Standard Version)
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.
You can almost feel David’s disdain for anyone who denies God. He is solidly in the camp of those who call upon the Lord for everything, and so he has no patience or respect for godless evildoers.
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.
Here is the application for modern day readers: those who call upon God will find a refuge of safety in that relationship. Knowing that God is real puts one in the camp of the righteous, where God resides. It is not only the smart choice, it is the only safe choice. God is our strength. God is our restoration. God is our deliverance.
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.
Do you know someone who denies the existence of God? They, too, may make this assertion from a heart-perspective rather than a head-perspective. Ask questions. Have they been hurt by the church? Have they suffered at the hand of “religion?” Have they felt condemnation from those who know God?
Listening to the heart is much better than lecturing to the mind. When people see God in your actions as you offer unconditional love, compassion, generosity, and forgiveness, they can see with their hearts that God is real.
You’re the only Jesus some will ever see. Go and preach the Gospel with your winsome ways, and only use words when absolutely necessary.