Flammable Foolishness – Psalm 14

Years ago, we sold a home, and a few weeks after closing got a call from our realtor. She explained that the home buyer had reported that the gas logs in the house we sold were not working correctly. There had been an incident, and she had been burned. The buyer wanted to know who had installed the gas logs and find out who was to blame.

My husband suggested we pay for the installer to go and inspect the logs and figure out what had gone wrong. A few days later, the installer called to report a rather interesting conversation with the buyer. It went something like this.

Can you tell me what happened on the day you had a problem with the gas logs?

Well, I turned the gas on in the fireplace and realized I didn’t have a lighter. I went back to the kitchen to search for one. When I got back and lit the logs, there was a flare-up. That is how I got burned.

Let me clarify this. You left the gas on and went to find a lighter?

Yes, that is what I said.

The installer then patiently explained that it was a wonder she didn’t blow the whole house up and would never do that again.

By God’s grace, her injuries were minor. While I was sad she got hurt, I was grateful not to be held responsible for someone else’s foolish decision. Today, I let my husband light the logs at our house.

The Bible is full of wisdom and stories of the foolishness of human beings. Psalm 14 contrasts God’s wisdom with foolishness. Perhaps God offers much insight to us because we so sorely need it. We live in a world where the voice of folly is loud and appears to be in charge.

How often does that voice influence me?

The psalmist begins Psalm 14, pointing to foolishness.

Follow Your Heart

1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1 ESV)

This statement of practical atheism proclaims that God has nothing to do with our lives.

The fool speaks from his heart. Human hearts and emotions are not reliable sources of wisdom. Listening to your heart sounds so good in a country music ballad, but the practice may lead to severe mistakes. What feels so true in the moment might not be accurate in reality.

Relying on our hearts may lead to corruption.

Merriam-Webster defines corruption as “a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct.” The corrosive effect of foolishness leads to abominable deeds.  

Check out the headlines on any given day to read more about what that looks like in real life. What gets done to vulnerable people like the elderly or children all seems quite abominable. I don’t think anyone wakes up on any given day intent on extremely abusive behavior. It could be a slow drift towards foolish choices that slowly go downhill to an extreme degree.

Practical atheism or “God has nothing to do with my life” makes human beings feel adrift without a moral standard.

As a believer, I live in a sin-saturated society. Atheist fools are platformed, and their guidance is often set as the standard for all. That influence can take a toll on me as a believer.  

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


The LORD has a 360-degree view of seeing the entire universe. He looks down from heaven and sees the “children of man.” These people choose to live their lives apart from God and have limited perspectives.

The children of man misunderstand the wisdom of God.

God can discern, from His perspective, if a person understands or seeks Him. While sometimes I believe I know this too, I don’t. It’s easy for me to assign motives creatively, but I don’t know what is in someone’s heart or mind. Only God does because only God can handle that information.

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

Contagious Corruption

Turning aside from God’s wisdom leads to contagious corruption, spreading from one person to another. They no longer have the ability to do any good.

I long to create a comfortable distance from this situation. I want to claim that I seek God so I won’t become corrupted. However, I live in a world where this is sadly so common. How many high-profile Christian leaders do we see fall into corruption? This can happen to any leader, but when one of the high-profile ones falls, it dramatically damages the body of Christ.

As a believer, I am not inoculated from foolishness. I need a steady stream of wisdom from God to counteract all I am exposed to daily.

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


Foolish people become evildoers who eat up God’s people like bread. Exploiting other people is as natural to them as eating daily bread. They don’t suffer any guilt or concern. Evildoers do not call upon the LORD.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love people. It is far too easy to focus on accomplishing a worthy goal that people feel used to or exploited. I must seek God’s wisdom to avoid these practices and rely on Him to achieve goals.

However, God will not allow exploitation to remain unchecked. This is the part of the psalm that turns in a promising direction.

5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. (Psalm 14:5 ESV)

God provides His presence.

Foolish people, who don’t acknowledge God, will end in terror and alone.

God is going to help the righteous ones who seek God’s wisdom.

God is with the generation of the righteous. God’s peaceful presence transforms our lives. He is the one who makes us righteous by the blood of Jesus’s death on the cross.

6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. (Psalm 14:6 ESV)

God provides refuge

The LORD is the refuge for the poor. Those who lack peace or provision can run into God’s presence. His door is always open, and He is never too busy for us. God can overrule the plans of people who are not seeking Him. He can also bless the plans of those who do seek Him.

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. (Psalm 14:7 ESV) 

God provides hope.

In verse 7, hope skips into the scene. The LORD points to Zion because it is where God revealed Himself to man most personally as Jesus Christ. Salvation is here for us now, and the complete restoration is coming. Notice that it is not a matter of if; it says when the LORD restores the fortunes of His people because He will.

We can keep a hopeful perspective even in times when foolishness abounds.

God is in the restoration business and working now and not yet.


Lord, when I feel surrounded by foolishness, help me seek Your wisdom every day. Please help me to take the time to take refuge in you. Guard my heart against being hijacked by the tyranny of the urgent. I need to hear from you in your word first and daily. Lord, let me live with a hope-filled perspective set upon your promises and presence.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

How do you avoid flammable foolishness?

Am I Operating My Life Beyond God’s Design Capacity? Psalm 32

During Hurricane Harvey, the Houston area received close to sixty inches of rain. Water drainage experts design all kinds of landscaping features to mitigate flooding in the Houston area. The fountains and lakes you see as you enter a subdivision are beautifully disguised flood mitigation features. However, no amount of these features could manage Harvey’s furor. Five feet of water, arriving over four days, caused irreparable damage. The sheer weight of water forced Houston to sink an inch lower, and it was beyond the design capacity for the area.

Soul tending in Psalm 32 reveals some ways in which confession and spending time in God’s presence help me to function as God designed me to. When I defy God’s design capacity I suffer, as do those around me.

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah (Psalm 32:1-4 ESV)

“…my bones wasted away through my groanings all day long.”

Unrepented sin in my life takes me beyond God’s design capacity. I was not built to carry sin long-term in my spirit. The weight of sin wears me out physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Your hand was heavy on me day and night.”

Thank you, Lord, for not leaving me alone to figure it out. Out of your kindness, You came to me in the day and the night and firmly reminded me of my sin. The weight of my sin became too heavy to bear. I grew weaker on each day that I avoided confession.

5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:5 ESV) 

When I confess, acknowledge, and uncover my sins, You forgive me. When I bring it all out into the open to you, I am forgiven completely. No bargaining necessary, no sacrifices needed, and nothing I tell You is surprising or shocking. However, I need to lay it down by saying it aloud. Sometimes I need the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the sins I need to confess because I simply don’t remember them all.

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (Psalm 32:6-7 ESV) 

Prayers lead to God’s presence. God’s presence leads me to find safe ground above the waves of destruction. And there I find a hiding place. In Your presence, I move from being surrounded by my enemies to a sweet place of refuge where I am surrounded by Your presence.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Psalm 32:8-9 ESV)

When I choose to remain in Your presence instead of dashing off to do whatever I think is most important, I receive sacred instructions for my next step. Can I set aside time each day to sit and listen to You?

As someone who often struggles with little or no sense of direction, I am very aware of my need for “turn by turn directions” to know the way to go. I need to know both the direction to travel, and the manner in which You want me to travel. Shall I travel light in this season? Shall I take little on my journey? Or should I pack up for a good long while?

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart. (Psalm 32:10-11 ESV)

Confessing sin regularly, and spending time in God’s presence daily, leads me to a greater sense of who I am created to be in Christ. I am beloved by the Lord. As I trust Him more, I begin to see I am embraced by steadfast love. The world’s standard for love is based on what I can do, what value I bring, and how I appear. God’s steadfast love is enduring and based on God’s promise-keeping, not my behavior. To be clear, this does not mean I will live a life without any suffering or hardship. Difficult situations continue to conform me to the likeness of Christ. (See the Apostle Paul for more information.)

When I clear out sin and selfishness, I see more clearly. My view of myself and God is not distorted by sin. When I fully trust God for all outcomes, I find peace that passes all understanding.

Will it all work out the way I want? No.

Will I struggle? Yes.

However, God’s presence will carry me. This causes me to be glad and rejoice in all circumstances.