Today’s passage: Psalm 14
Today’s chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans
You may be familiar with Psalm 14:1: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” And if you’re familiar with the rest of Psalms and Proverbs, you likely already know that the “fool” in Jewish wisdom literature is not simply an idiot, some slow-witted person with a head full of misconceptions. What separates the fool from a mere ignorant person is his willful stupidity, his unwillingness to learn and his commitment to acting on his misconceptions. The fool’s stupidity is moral and practical; the fool thinks he can do evil and prosper.
I don’t think this is meant as a blanket statement about atheists. David’s referring to specific people here. He further characterizes this group as follows: “Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord” (4). These particular fools are enemies of Israel, afflicting and plundering the Lord’s people with no fear of divine retribution. They don’t believe that God has the power to enforce his moral order or his favor for Israel. They believe that he, at best, is on par with the tribal, parochial gods of those they’ve already conquered: a vitiated deity, an un-god.
David expects that the fools have another thing coming, however. He writes: “Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad” (7). Though his people suffer in the present, he believes that God will in time liberate them from their suffering. As usual, justice plays the long game–and in the meantime, David writes songs about his hope.