# 78 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 14 No one who does good.

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“Viceland – a channel for young people by young people.” Believe it or not, this is the name of the former SBS channel 3 and one wonders just how low the media can go. Did the producers check out the definition of “vice” before they named this channel? It includes the following words:

 

Immoral or wicked behaviour, wrongdoing, evil-doing, iniquity, impurity, corruption, sin, ungodliness, profanity, depravity, perversion, degradation, decadence, debauchery and crime.

 

Hopefully it is not quite this bad, but what was in their minds when they named this channel? Is this a channel any thinking parent would desire their young people to watch?

 

Last time we looked at Psalm 14 we considered those who seek the Lord and the fact that God is himself seeking for such people. Well, according to this psalm, the result of “the Lord look[ing] down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God”, is pretty sad. In fact he sums up the situation as:
“They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good

All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
    there is no one who does good,
not even one.                                                                                                                   They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.”  (Vs 1, 3-4)

 

In other words, according to the psalmist, they are all “fools”, and God asks, “Do all these evildoers know nothing?” (v 4)

 

I guess if one does not seek God then one has to find an alternative and the alternatives will never satisfy (certainly not long term) and often may well be quite harmful to the person seeking them and for those around.

 

Certainly the people mentioned in this Psalm were busy seeking other things and none of them good! In fact they are described as “corrupt…[whose] deeds are vile.”  Imagine being described as people who do no good! In fact they have at some stage in their lives made a very bad decision and that was to “turn away” from all that is good and “turn away” from God himself. They  had decided to do the exact opposite of seeking God. The natural consequences of such a decision is to then pick on those who were seeking God. God describes it as devouring “my people as though eating bread.” History is full of it!

 

This could all be a bit depressing if we left it there.  But the psalmist is aware, despite the moral degradation all around him, and the “fools” who don’t seek God, that

 

“God is present in the company of the righteous…[and]
the Lord is their refuge.”  (verses 5-6)

 

And so he calls out to God:

 

 “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”  (verse 7)

 

Paul, in his application of Psalm 14 along with other OT quotes in his letter to the Romans, gives us even more hope than the psalmist. How we need to understand that hope in our day!

 

His initial statement of hope speaks of the “gospel [meaning “good news”] of God.” He then explains what this is when he says that God himself “promised [this gospel] beforehand through his [OT] prophets in the Holy Scriptures [and that it is] regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace…” (Romans 1:1-5)

 

Paul continues that he is “not ashamed of the gospel [in fact he was anything but ashamed], because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…for in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” (Romans 1:16-17)

 

Paul follows up with just why this good news is needed and that is because “As it is written [in Psalm 14]: ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.’” (Romans 3:10) And in summary he says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…[and] the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

 

But the good news is that both these statements above are actually followed by the solution. He says,

 

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ…[and] the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

 

No wonder Paul is not ashamed of the message of the gospel which he declares is for all mankind, none excluded. Listen to his inclusive language: “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and foolish [as mentioned in Psalm 14]….I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:14-16)

 

Thank God we all fit in there somewhere! Such is his amazing grace.

 

And for discriminating SBS viewers, another word from Paul:

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.(Philippians 4:8-9)

 

 

And so, Father, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ…I am convinced that…[there is not] anything…[that] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39) Amen

 

 

# 77 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 14 You’re it!

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Anyone who has been a child, a parent or a grandparent (I think that includes all of us!) knows what the game hide and seek is. Just in case you have forgotten, basically, the game is played by one player chosen (designated as being “it”) closing their eyes and counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. My four year old granddaughter has a number of variations of this game, but the common factor is that most of the time I am “it’!  “Grandpa you’re it” is a phrase I have heard many times!

The definition of “to seek” is:.

to “attempt to find (something or someone) to search for, look for, to be on the lookout for.”

It is pretty common for us as human beings to be out there seeking for something or someone, seeking for direction, the right way to go in life, seeking for peace of mind, seeking knowledge and much more. Some things when found satisfy, but many don’t!

The Bible has numerous verses talking about man seeking. The key one is about us seeking God himself:

“…devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.”  (1 Chron 22:19)

 

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”  (1 Chron 16:11)

 

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”  (Isa 55:6)

 

David says:

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”  (Psalm 27:4)

And there are promises for those who seek God:

 

“…if … you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.  (Deut 4:29)

 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  (2 Chron 7:14)

 

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. (Lam 3:25)

 

And the words of Jesus:

 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matt 7:7)

 

In fact, it seems that seeking God is something that God himself desires of us all as his people.

 

So in Psalm 14:2, the psalmist says that

The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.”

 

In the Amplified Bible it says:

“The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of men
To see if there are any who understand (act wisely),
Who [truly] seek after God, [longing for His wisdom and guidance].

 

And the Passion Translation puts it:

“The Lord looks down in love, Bending over heaven’s balcony, Looking over all of Adam’s sons and daughters. He’s is looking to see if there is anyone Who acts wisely; Any who are searching for God and wanting to please him.”

The perspective is “from heaven.” The One looking down is God himself. The object of God’s seeking is for those among us who “understand”, those of us who earnestly and urgently “seek God”. For those who seek to know him personally, seek his wisdom, seek his guidance, seek to please him.

 

I wonder if that is you today? If so, then claim the truth that if “you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  (Deut 4:29)

 

And remember the truth of the words of David at the end of this Psalm when he says, “God is present in the company of the righteous.” (Psalm 14: 5)

 

The wonderful thing is that even if we fail to seek God He is seeking us.

Jesus said: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  (John 4:23)

 

And he said this about himself:  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  (Luke 19:10)

 

We may seek many things in life, but the greatest is God himself, the One who sent His Son to earth, to live among us, to die for our salvation, to rise from the dead that we too might live forever.

So, seek the Lord and live!

Father may we be those who seek YOU above all else and “seek … your kingdom and your righteousness” every day of our lives. Thank you Jesus that you came “to seek and to save the lost”. I was lost and you came to seek me and you found me. What a great thing it is to be found by God! Amen.

 

# 76 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 14 There is no God? Are you kidding!

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Recently my wife and I travelled to the mid-west of Western Australia to check out an amazing display of wildflowers, some found only in this part of the world. One that particularly impressed us is called a Wreath Lechenaultia or simply, a Wreath Flower. And, it is easy to see why it has that name.

 

As I stood and observed this plant, I couldn’t help but worship the One who created such a wonder. And there have been many over the millennia who have had that same response to God’s creation.

 

I read recently of Pablo Casals who was a cellist and conductor from Catalonia, Spain. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. Although he considered himself “not religious in the way that many would think”, he once said that on waking the first thing he does is “go immediately to the sea, and everywhere I see God, in the smallest and largest things. I see him in colours and designs and forms.” (The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin in Reader’s Digest 2007)

 

David in Psalm 8:1 says: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”

 

Job to his “friends” said:

 

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.”              (Job 12:7-10)

 

It is no surprise then that David in Psalm 14:1 has little time for so-called atheists. In fact he suggests that anyone who says “There is no God” is actually a “fool”! In his own words: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’”.

 

Back to the wreath flower. Just consider for a moment where this plant grows. Not in some lush rain forest, but on the edge of dry red dust roads just like this one:

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And it is here that they thrive!

Paul in Romans has the last word on atheism when he says,

 

19 …what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind…” (Romans 1:19, 21-22, 28)

 

Kidner writes concerning the statement “There is no God”, that this assertion “is treated in Scripture not as a sincere misguided conviction, but as an irresponsible gesture of defiance.” (see references # 29)

 

Phil Moore suggests that “David [and Paul] tells us that people do not become atheists through careful consideration of the facts, but by refusing to accept in their hearts what the facts all around them shout out is true.” (see references # 36)

Maybe they have never seen a Wreath Flower!

 

Father, we pray that you would open our eyes daily to see your hand in your amazing handiwork all around us. And, open the eyes of those who don’t yet understand the truth that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and that “Through him [Jesus] all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3)  Amen

# 75 A journey through the Psalms. Truths to help us to “…live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received.” (Ephesians 4:1). # Twenty One: Psalm 13 God has been good to me.

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“Thank God for the honesty of the psalmists. The presence of so many passionate, no-nonsense prayer-songs in the Bible gives us licence, as it were, to be completely honest with God. God wants us to articulate our deepest anxieties, and even our doubts. It’s not that he would be otherwise unaware of what inhabits the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. Far from it, but including them in our conversations with God helps us to be honest with ourselves, and gives the Spirit opportunity to nurture faith and hope within us. This is the experience of the psalmist.”  (SU notes)

 

The comment above was written concerning Psalm 12 but applies just as well to many of the Psalms including Psalm 13.

 

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

 

Maybe as you read yet another lament psalm, you wonder just why so many of the 150 psalms deal with pain and suffering of some kind. Well, let me suggest that in reality, that is the condition of a majority of the world’s peoples most of the time.

 

But there is hope!

 

I read recently what has sometimes been referred to as Jesus’ Mission Statement. It is found in Luke 4:18-19 but is actually quoted by Jesus from the writings of the prophet Isaiah chapter 61 verses 1-2.

 

Luke records, “Jesus…went to Nazareth…and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue…he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

 

Then he rolled up the scroll…and sat down. The eyes of everyone …were fastened on him, and he [said]…’Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”

 

Quite a mission statement for the Son of God! Just consider for a moment the recipients of Jesus ministry on earth:

  • the poor
  • the prisoners
  • the blind
  • the oppressed

 

It seems, considering it superficially, that there is no mention of most of us!

 

Until God opens our eyes to our true spiritual state without Christ.

 

Paul, writings to the believers in Ephesus explains it like this:

 

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air [i.e. Satan], the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us who lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

 

The reality is that each one of us has been (or maybe still is) poor, a prisoner, blind and oppressed when it comes to our spiritual conditions. Thank God that Jesus came to deliver us from all this. Listen to the action words he uses concerning these distressing situations:

 

  • to preach good news to the poor.
  • to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
  • recovery of sight for the blind
  • release the oppressed

 

Paul continues to the Ephesians:

 

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace that you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

 

Praise God, if Psalm 13 has been our prayer to God, in Christ we have the answer to our prayer and can respond:

 

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

 

Thankyou Father for sending your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and that the heart of the incarnation was to show grace to us, so undeserving and so rebellious. Amen.