Most of us rarely ponder how others approach life, certainly not those who have rejected God. Yet they face life believing they came from nothing and are charging toward similar nothingness. This nihilism produces existential behavior, that is, living for the moment because they exist now, having no hope or guarantee of existence in the future. In addition, such people feel accountable to no one but themselves or possibly to the state—but certainly not to any Divine Judge who will render to them according to their deeds (Psalm 28:4; Isaiah 59:18; Revelation 20:12).
What happens, though, when their lives begin to unravel? To whom do they turn when relationships sour or employment vanishes or disaster strikes? Some may recant their atheism and "find religion," but many are so jaded against spirituality of any sort that a god of any kind is abhorrent to them. Do they lean, then, on psychiatry? Science? Medicine? Law? Government? In reality, each of these human pursuits is as insubstantial as a hologram. In the end, the atheist stands alone.
Both Paul and Peter tell us bluntly that our trials and tests are things "common to man" (I Corinthians 10:13; I Peter 4:12). We struggle against the same forces that others do. A poor economy, a war, a natural disaster, an oppressive government, a crime wave, etc., hits us just as it hits others, more or less. The similarity ends there, however. A Christian's approach to his problems—in terms of their purposes, solutions, and products—is far different than an atheist's, or anyone else in the world, for that matter. True Christians see every circumstance as preparation for God's Kingdom and thus worthy of a Christlike course of action.
Paul says God does not give us tests beyond our abilities to solve, and in addition, He opens a "way of escape" for them (I Corinthians 10:13). These are wonderful assurances in themselves, but we can be confident of something even better: God's presence with us—indeed, in us!—as we face our trials. We are not alone! God is there to provide "mercy and . . . grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). Later, Paul writes, "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5). Thus, Peter advises, "[Cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7).
Jesus tells His disciples, including us, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Through Isaiah, He comforts us: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). Trials, temptations, tests—what are they next to the willing power of God?
Remember, we are never alone! God is there (Psalm 23:4)! Call upon Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6)!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
We Are NOT Alone!
Let us hope that none of us is this "blind." From my experience as a minister, it is possible that Christians can be what David describes as a "fool." One may say, "Well, since my conversion, I have never said that there is no God." Maybe we have and never realized it!
How could that happen? "Fool" here is nabal. Remember the story of David and Abigail? Abigail's husband was named Nabal, and he was a fool. It means someone who is contemptible, someone who is empty. It does not mean "an atheist" or one who has no contact with God. It does not even mean that such a person does not see God in His creation. The fool that David describes here may readily admit that God is Creator and claim that this belief plays a major role in his life.
This person, this "fool," though not an atheist, lives as if he believes no God exists, either to bless with reward or to curse with punishment. A nabal is not stupid; he is not a person who does not reason at all. He is a person who reasons wrongly. A nabal is a person who chooses or assumes to ignore the fact of God's authority over his life. He sees God as an "absentee landlord" who may be safely disregarded because he assumes that God is not really active in His Creation. Now that is foolishness!
In biblical contexts, foolishness can be sin! The fool's problem is not with his brain but his heart. The fool is capable of grasping the things of God, but he possesses no real fear or reverence for God and the things of God. This results in nothing less than a "practical atheism." Even though he may readily admit that God is Creator, he lives his life as though God is nowhere around. He has produced a dichotomy between what he intellectually knows and the way he lives. God says such a person is a fool. He is, in reality, saying in his heart, "There is no God."
That is sobering because any of us can fall into this state, as Psalm 14:5 implies: "There [fools] are in great fear, for God is with the generation of the righteous." Like us, the fool is aware of God. When the punishment, the curse, for sin comes—when God begins to reveal Himself as the Judge of sinners—then the fool, because of what He knows of God, also knows great fear. If he truly thought, "There is no God," the fear would not exist, but he knows that there really is a God, though his life belies it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Do You See God? (Part One)
Psalm 14:1-3, which Paul quotes in Romans 3:10-12, contains direct and unambiguous statements on what man's nature is really like. We are all corrupt. No one—“not one”!—is good. The only thing that saves us is the blood of Christ. So Paul, in Romans 3:23, concludes: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is just another way of saying that man's nature is “only evil continually.”
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?
The fool is a man who is dominated by his pride. The person of pride also has desires, even as we have desires, but his thoughts are not related to God. "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." He cannot relate his thoughts to God, and so his needs are not related to God and His purpose.
"God is not in all of his thoughts," and thus there is no gratitude and thanksgiving. He thinks with all his being that he did everything himself, whereas someone like Paul says, "What do you have that you did not receive?" (I Corinthians 4:7). He challenges us to try to think of something that has not ultimately come from God.
Our pride does this. Pride forces a person to think only about himself, his world, and what is important to him. It is pride's power that largely blinds us to the reality of God's intimate involvement in our individual lives. We tend to see God as only generally involved, which inhibits us from more fully understanding much of what He has to reveal of Himself to us. It is this revelation that God wants to give to us that should lead to thanksgiving.
John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part Three)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Psalms 14:1:
1 Peter 1:18