This psalm presents a gloomy view of humankind—a picture of “fools” who fail to acknowledge God’s reality and presence. It describes the foolishness of a life out of step with God’s purposes: perverse conduct with no accountability, a dearth of wisdom, and blatant disregard for the poor. The psalmist minces no words in cataloging the deeds of a life lived without the moral compass provided by divine guidance.
In their limited understanding of God’s nature, the Israelites apparently believe that being loved by God means God will favor them over others. But the concluding verses of Psalm 14 state unequivocally that God stands with the righteous and the poor. “The Lord is their refuge.”
This psalm offers a mirror to reflect the inconsistencies in our own lives. As functioning adults, we succumb to the need for self-sufficiency, control of our lives with limited regard for the welfare of others or God’s will in our attitudes and actions. Truth be told, we often exist in a state of “functional atheism”—a belief that it all depends on us. Actually, our hope lies in divine faithfulness. A God-centered life implies that we love what God loves, including those on the margins of society—the poor, the needy, the downtrodden.
Of course, like the psalmist, we long for deliverance from whatever dilemma we’re in. We can join in the hope that God will restore “the fortunes of his people.” No matter how callous our sinfulness or how dire our circumstances, our faithful God will help us pick up the pieces of whatever is broken. Like the Israelites, we can rejoice!
How do you feel when you are out of touch with God’s call to love and compassion? Know that God’s faithfulness offers restoration.
The apparent message of Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 is total despair, but verse 27 offers a soft note of grace. God’s redemptive purposes for the people will not ultimately be thwarted. Psalm 14 suggests that foolishness and perversity characterize all humanity, but God can gather from among sinful humankind a community of people who will nd their refuge in God. In First Timothy, the writer points to his own life as an example of God’s ability to reclaim and redeem persons. Luke 15 suggests how far God is willing to go to reclaim the lost. The par- ables of the lost sheep and the lost coin portray God as remark- ably and even recklessly active in pursuit of wayward persons.
• Read Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28. When have you made a mess of things and suffered the consequences? What invitation surfaced from that situation?
• Read Psalm 14. How do you feel when you are out of touch with God’s call? What practices or disciplines do you employ to recognize God’s faithfulness?
• Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. What can you do today that will show mercy and compassion to another?
• Read Luke 15:1-10. When have you felt God pursuing you? How did this feel like a gracious invitation rather than con- demnation?
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