Friday, April 1, 2011

Pity The Fool:

[Thanks to Chris Fenstermaker for sharing this great reflection.]

Psalm 14:1
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

Here we are again.. It's April 1st. "April Fools Day" as so many call it.  And, the Christian blog-o-sphere, twit tweets, statuses and all the other outlets where we Christians are 'free' to voice our opinions do so with yet another mis-quoted, mis-cited, abused bit of scripture.

And there you have it, the Bible verse that says atheists are fools. Or, is this really who this verse refers to?

So often, this verse has been quoted as an attack on atheists. Too often, I believe.  And, in doing so - we have turned many hearts from the Grace of the Father and the very Heart of the Father is grieved.

And there-in lies the misconception. This passage isn't directed at non-believers....Let's look at it closer.

First, read Psalm 14 in its entirety.

Let's hope that none of us are this blind. In my experience it is possible that Christians can be what The Psalmist describes here as the fool.

How could that happen? Fool here is the word nabal. Remember the story of David and Abigail (1 Samuel 25)? Abigail's husband was named Nabal, and was called foolish. It means someone who is contemptible, someone who is empty, someone who cares for nothing other than himself.

It does not mean "an atheist" or one who has no contact with God. It does not even mean that such a person does not see God in His creation. The fool that David is talking about here in Psalm 14 may even admit that God is Creator and even claim that this belief has a major impact in his life.

This person, this "fool," though not an atheist, lives as if he believes no God exists. A nabal is not stupid; he is not a person who does not reason. He is a person who reasons incorrectly. A nabal is a person who chooses or assumes to ignore God's authority over his life. He views God as an "absentee landlord" who may be disregarded because he assumes that God is not really active.

So - here, this verse - Psalm 14:1 is not speaking of "atheists" - but really speaking to the 'Christian' who does not live reflective of what he believes....which places a better understanding of the latter parts of the verse.

Let's rephrase the verse (using the CFT*)

The Christian who lives contrary to what He says he believes is foolish (nabal). His works and deeds are corruptible and abhorrent in God's sight, without purpose, reward, or eternal value.

So in response;  Are YOU, Mr or Mrs Christian, a fool?  Are you one who says that you believe and trust in God, but your life or actions don't reflect that very statement?  I'm not talking about 'to sin or not to sin'....I am talking about living a life that is markedly different because God is present in and through your life...ever present.

How then should we live?  Possibly as Paul suggests in Ephesians, to be very careful how you live...making the most of every opportunity...understand what the Lord's will is. But even more so - live as though we believe that God will do what He has said He will do.

(*CFT - Chris Fenstermaker Translation - unorthodox and unauthorized)

Revised from the original post on October 22, 2009 at Thinking In Reality.


  1. Pity the fool...does that mean we must not resent or criticize the fool, but extend compassion? Catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  2. The people that Jesus criticized were those who claimed they knew God but their hearts were far from Him....He went as far as to saw "woe to you" calling them hypocrites, blind guides, and a brood of vipers.....

    Those who did not believe in Him - He never called them foolish, but He (speaking on The Father's leading) touched their heart at their deepest point of need. Even the one who believed that Jesus was The Messiah but had trouble believing that He could do the miraculous saying "I believe, but help my unbelief" (Mk 9:24).


Love to hear your thoughts...