The fool says in his heart, there is no God. The only difference between now and David’s time is that today, we’ve got plenty of people who are darn fool enough to say it out loud.
Nowadays, we use the word “fool” to mean someone who is stupid, thoughtless, unwise, or easily deceived and imposed on. In the Bible, it also means someone who is wicked or impious. It refers not so much to a person’s mental equipment as to his outlook on life.
Whatever a fool may say outwardly, or whatever he may attempt to appear in terms of religious observance, in his heart he does not acknowledge God at all. There might as well be no God as far as the fool is concerned.
I see the word for “fool” used here is “nabal.” David encountered a man named Nabal once, although I doubt if his mother gave him that name or that anyone called him that to his face. He was so ungrateful and so boorish in his refusal to help David that only his wife’s quick thinking prevented David from killing him and all of his servants.
Elsewhere in the Old Testament, we can read about other fools. They offered all the right sacrifices and outwardly followed all the right rituals in order to appear respectable to their neighbors and associates.
They kept the Sabbath but resented it. They could not buy or sell. They could not work at all and feared the weekly loss of a chance to earn their living. So they spent the Sabbath planning their next opportunity to make money and new, more subtle ways of swindling others. They hardly ever gave any thought to God.
It would be nice if this psalm would let us nod and agree that there are a lot of fools in the world. And just be comfortable in the fact that we, at least, do believe in God– sort of like the Pharisee that thanked God he was not like other men.
But the sad truth of the matter is that none of us are safe from foolishness. David says God looks down from heaven on the whole human race to see if anyone understands. It must have pained David, the man after God’s own heart, to write this, but God’s verdict is that all have become corrupt and no one does good—no, not one. Not even David. Not even me, not even anyone any of us have ever heard of but Jesus.
In the last verse, David caught only a glimmer of what God intended to do about all this pervasive foolishness. We get a clearer picture in the cross of Jesus, but in this time of Lenten preparation, we have to recognize that we don’t yet have sufficient revelation to preserve us from all foolishness. Thanks be to God that he has plans to finish what he has started.