If you’ve been around church for very long, today’s Bible reading* may sound a little familiar. It’s the classic statement on the fool. In fact, this is not the only place these words appear in the Bible. These words also appear in Psalm 14. And Paul applies these words in Romans 3.
The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt, and they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.
Psalm 53:1–3 (CSB)
The literal reading from Hebrew omits the verb. In other words, the literal wording is, “The fool says in his heart, no God.”
Now, when the Bible uses the term “fool”, it isn’t addressing someone’s mental capacity, but rather one’s moral orientation. Instead of saying that fool can’t understand the difference between right and wrong, it says that the fool doesn’t have the inclination to choose what’s right.
It’s important that we understand the catastrophic effects of the Fall. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick, even wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9) And our “Default” setting is to choose what is morally wrong. (Psalm 53:3) Even on our best day, we will always fall short of God’s righteous requirements (Isaiah 64:6) because we are born as enemies of God. (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:1-3, 14, 16)
Without Jesus and His death on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago, I am a fool. You are also a fool. And unless the provision of salvation is applied to us, we are lost. We are helpless. And we are hopeless.
God calls people to repent. To repent is to turn from your attempts at righteousness and turn to the righteousness of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Without Jesus, we are destined to say from a fallen heart, No God!” But with a heart transplant (Ezekiel 36:26–27), we can say in a clean heart, “Yes, God!”
* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
2 Samuel 10
1 Chronicles 19