1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
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 are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is his refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
If we understand that the Bible was written by men but under the direction of the Holy Spirit, then we can understand when David writes this that he is writing what God is saying. God declares that the fool says in his heart, “There is no God”. Who is the fool? It is anyone who has ever had a secret pang of conscience (no doubt given by God as a way to acknowledge Him) and turns away from it to do as he pleases. According to this definition we are all guilty of foolish desires, thus creating in our hearts a rebellion to the Creator – which rebellion is abominable to Him.
“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20
It is Paul’s charge in the book of Romans to lay the case out for us as to why we need Christ. The apostle quotes this very psalm, explaining that we have all sinned – none of us is worthy to be called a child of God – or to join Him in paradise. Again God speaks of Himself as He looks for anyone who understands the reality of the situation, anyone who seeks forgiveness and refuge in God. Verse 3 almost resonates a sorrow from our Creator – He exclaims that all have turned aside from Him, and all are evil. Who is the all? As verse 2 states: the children of man. So anyone born of man is called out here as having turned away from God. We are all guilty.
Paul tells us, in Romans 1, the reason for our guilt. He explains that what can be known about God has been clearly seen since the beginning. If we look at all creation we see His fingerprints. Each organism is made up of carefully crafted and placed information to make one of a kind creatures, birds, and plants. No two birds are exactly the same, just as no two human faces are exactly the same. We can observe the world around us and see that there is intelligence behind it’s design. We can know that God is infinitely intelligent, and that we were created by Him – thus we should give Him our respect and attention. But because we desire to be masters of our own lives, we turn away from knowledge and accept the things we make with our own hands (or even our own thoughts) as higher than God.
God poses a rhetorical question in verse 4. He demands an account from the children of man. Of course they have knowledge, but they have rejected it and become fools. As Paul states in Romans 1, because they rejected their Creator, He rejects them – and gives them over to their desires. Their rejection of God (the ultimate sin) leaves them dead to God. This is the state we are all in until a resurrection of our souls takes place. We are dead, and God picks us up and puts Christ’s life in us and over us as He chooses. We are no longer ourselves, but Christ lives in us – so when God looks at us (now called children of God), He sees His son.
So now we, as God’s elect children, are subjected to the sons of man. Continuing in verse 4, God cries over His children because evil overcomes them. They ‘eat us up’; seemingly overtaking us with clever arguments and unspeakable acts. But inwardly the sons of man see God at work and it frightens them. They lash out because of an inward terror of what awaits them in judgement. Though they may not be able to put their finger on what it is, they know that God is the one behind it all – He is with those that are His – the righteous. They may kill the body, but the spirit belongs to the Lord – His plans cannot be thwarted.
Verse 7 is a revert to David. He has been given the gift of prophecy (seen here as he speaks on behalf of God), and he knows of the Savior that will come to deliver God’s chosen people. He anxiously awaits the day when Messiah will appear, when all of Israel will see and understand her history, and prophecy will be revealed. David looks forward to Christ and is counted among the righteous.
22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. – Romans 3