Monday, May 21, 2007

Sorry, Dave

In an earlier post, I may have misquoted Psalm 14. In that post I said Psalm 14 stated that those who believe there is no God (atheists) are fools. I read Psalm 14 again and some commentaries on it and it seems that David didnt mean atheists at all when he wrote the Psalm. And he didnt use the word translated as fool in the English to mean 'dim-witted.'

Here is Psalm 14 in its entirety from the English Standard Version (ESV):

Psa 14:1 To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

Psa 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

Psa 14:3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Psa 14:4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?

Psa 14:5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.

Psa 14:6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.

Psa 14:7 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.

The word translated fool in Psalm 14 was נבל nabal and it could mean a number of things: either in the usual sense of the word--foolish, vacuous--or in a moral sense, that is, vile, wicked. The context clearly shows that it is in the moral sense that the person in verse 1 is considered a 'fool.' The fool says in his heart there is no God. Meaning, by his actions, the immoral person flouts the authority of God by doing wicked things. This person could in fact be a nominal believer in God but by his actions pooh-poohs God, in other words, a hypocrite. Banal na aso, santong kabayo, and all that. Sort of like the people being talked about in Isaiah 29:

And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men... (verse 13)
These people have the appearance of believing in God, but by their actions show that in their hearts they dont recognize him. Psalm 14 wasnt talking about atheists. I'll apologize to King David when I see him.

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