Reading through the Bible together
Psalm 53 is an almost exact copy of Psalm 14. David wrote Psalm 14 as we have it, but this Psalm was later adapted to reflect a new situation. Both Psalms address foolish evildoers who say there is no God, but each Psalm responds to a different group of those who deny the existence of God. This Psalm says they “were overwhelmed by dread, when there was nothing to dread. But it was God who scattered the bones of our enemies.” We can imagine this being written after Sennacherib had attacked Jerusalem, only to have his army of 185,000 troops destroyed by an angel of God, leaving their bones scattered outside the city walls.
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” It’s not that he denies that there is a God. In the ancient world virtually nobody was an atheist; everyone believed in the existence of supernatural beings. But the fool lives without reference to God. For him, God interferes, and he would rather not have that. Yet when things go wrong, he argues with his own heart and instinctively turns to a power outside of and greater than himself.
If we conduct our daily lives as though God doesn’t exist, we are the biggest fools of all. Or if we keep God in a Sabbath box that we close up with the setting of the sun, to pursue our muddled selfish course through the next six days with hardly a thought given to Him till the next Sabbath.
Fools who say there is no God “are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Remove God from the picture, and you have no moral reference point. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Atheists believe that morality is entirely up to the social culture or to the individual conscience, but both concepts have shown themselves to be unreliable and unworthy of such responsibility. In a world ruled by the evolutionary concept of tooth and claw, it is every man for himself, by whatever means it takes. Self-preservation is the basic law of this godless concept; self-advancement is its highest goal; and self-destruction, however, is its final reality. Yet they grab any argument that helps rid the universe of its Creator.
But God will not be shut out of His creation. “God looks down from heaven… to see if there are any who understand, who act wisely, any who seek God.” He isn’t far removed from us; He is concerned and knows that life at its best revolves around Him. The intellectual arrogance of a science that rejects the notion of God can never meet the real hunger of the soul or restore the deep brokenness of our world. But wherever God is sought and found, there is a sense of peace and wholeness, of purpose and hope.
Greater Sydney Conference