The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is none who does god, not even one. (Psalm 14:1-3, ESV)
Bleak. Depressing. Defeated. Hopeless. These are words one might use to describe David’s assessment of humanity in these verses. Theologians call it “total depravity.” We are tempted to think that we aren’t that bad, that we really do seek after God, that somewhere beneath the surface is something good. Psalm 14:1-3 says no. And just in case you think David is just down in the dumps, Paul quotes these verses in Romans 3 and concurs with David. As a matter of fact, Paul grabs other verses (almost all of them from the Psalms) and paints a bleak picture of humanity: we are all fools who don’t seek after God.
But something happens in verse five. God steps in. Why? If we are this hopeless, why would he care? Why would he even give us a passing glance? The answer is grace. The answer is love. Robert Smith, the great African-American preacher said in a recent sermon, “Love does not define God–God defines love.”
Perhaps you have forgotten that, when God called Abraham out of Mesopotamia to follow him, Abraham worshiped foreign gods. Perhaps it has slipped your mind that, when God called Israel out of Egypt, the Israelites had begun to worship the gods of the Egyptians. Maybe you (and I) fail to remember that, with the crossing of the Red Sea in their very recent past, the Israelites threw their gold into the fire and “out came a calf.” There is none who does good, not even one.
Is there hope?
The only hope for totally depraved people is a totally righteous Savior.
In verse three, the Lord looks down. If that is all he does, we remain hopeless. In verse five, the Lord comes down–he is with the generation of the righteous. Hold up! Righteous? Where did the righteous come from! The Psalmist answers that in verse seven: Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
Salvation for Israel did come out of Zion.
Paul concurs. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24, ESV)
But now…I love those words. If there has never been a but now moment in your life, you remain a sinner, hopelessly rejecting God. I say this will all due respect–you’re a fool to reject God. That’s what David says in Psalm 14:1. I lived for years as a fool, rejecting the greatest gift to the greatest sinner from the greatest Savior.
God looks down to see if anyone is looking up.
If you know Jesus, it is because one day, by God’s grace you looked up. God looked down, came down, rescued you and restored you to a right relationship with himself. My encouragement to you today: keep looking up. Fox News and CNN will not give you the best understanding of what is going on. Political pundits and medical experts are all trying to understand Covid-19.
Keep looking up.
The God who saved you is the God who keeps you. You are just as dependent on him to keep you as you were on him to save you.
Keep looking up.
This song, and how they sing it, is an affirmation of our great Savior. Take time to worship Him today.