For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
Two weeks into September, here’s Psalm 14:
For the director of music. Of David.
1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
What is this Psalm about?
As Allen P. Ross puts it in his commentary, Psalm 14 is ‘a powerful description of the godless world in which the righteous must live and which poses a constant threat to them’. The opening words hit our ears and eyes with force – and the first five of seven verses are relentless, it feels. Yet the Psalm is peppered with hints about ultimate reality, and about God. Ultimately, it ends with the eschatological plea that will culminate in Jesus – and be picked up throughout the Psalms. This is an honest Psalm, with much to teach us.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
Firstly, and perhaps paradoxically, Psalm 14 teaches us about the grace of God. Despite the foolishness of those who don’t believe he exists, God allows them to. Second, this grace extends particularly to the poor – for whom ‘the Lord is their refuge’ – and of course to ‘his people’. The third thing we see about God is that he is active and observant (Verse 2) rather than distant and uninvolved.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
The feeling of being overwhelmed has surfaced in previous Psalms – and one feels perhaps the Psalmist is giving us another gift here. How frustrating it can be when those we love believe there is no God – and more so, when the happenings of the world seem to imply that they are right! Psalm 14 reminds us that, no matter what we see, God is there and God is watching. Further, it reminds us that God is the refuge for the poor, and cares for his people – and he will restore.
A Prayer from Psalm 14
Lord, living in this world is hard work. Thank you for watching over us, for providing refuge for us, and for giving us the promise of restoration. Help us to always call on you. Amen.