Are We All Dumb? (Psalm 14)

Psalm 14

For the music leader. Of David.

14 Fools say in their hearts, There is no God.
    They are corrupt and do evil things;
    not one of them does anything good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on humans
    to see if anyone is wise,
    to see if anyone seeks God,
        but all of them have turned bad.
        Everyone is corrupt.
        No one does good—
        not even one person!

Are they dumb, all these evildoers,
    devouring my people
    like they are eating bread
        but never calling on the Lord?

Count on it: they will be in utter panic
    because God is with the righteous generation.
You evildoers may humiliate
    the plans of those who suffer,
        but the Lord is their refuge.

Let Israel’s salvation come out of Zion!
        When the Lord changes
        his people’s circumstances for the better,
        Jacob will rejoice;
        Israel will celebrate! (Psalm 14:1-7, Common English Bible).

As I read Psalm 14, an old bumper sticker came to my mind. I can’t really remember when I saw it, but I know there were many people who displayed it proudly on their bumper or window. It said, “Beam Me Up Scotty, There’s No Intelligent Life Down Here.”

I have watched some Star Trek over the years, particularly the past 43 years since Cindy and I got married. She likes Sci-fi in general and both Star Trek and Star Wars specifically. I don’t care for science fiction at all but I didn’t mind watching “The Next Generation” with her. Well, I didn’t mind it too much. Hey, I’ve even used it in sermon illustrations a few times.

The psalmist is the one who brings up the subject. “The Lord looks down from heaven to see if there is anyone who might be wise. ” Apparently God has a tough time finding even one person who meets the psalmist’s criteria for wisdom. I know, the bumper sticker says they lack intelligence and the psalm says they aren’t wise. I know they are not quite the same but it is close enough for our purposes.

The psalmist didn’t just say they had no wisdom. He moves on in his critique of the human creature, saying everyone is dumb as dirt. What? I know he didn’t say, “as dirt” but I can’t help but wonder if that’s what he was thinking. And why were we all so dumb? We who do evil in God’s sight, and that would be all of us, devour God’s people like they were bread and they never call on the Lord.

The idea of “devouring my people,” reminds me of the words of a friend once said to me. “We in the Church tend to eat our wounded.” God’s people, who are going through difficulty in life, are all too often destroyed, by the people who God charges with the most important commandment, love God and love neighbor.

I know I have spent much of this post attempting (probably unsuccessfully, to be funny. Whether I accomplished that or not I will leave for you to decide. But at this point, I’ve got to be serious for a bit. At least some of the time, we act in ways to people who are at points where their lives are vulnerable. When they need love and support most, they don’t just miss out on what they need, even more is taken away.

In the comparison the psalmist makes, “devouring my people like they are eating bread,” is an interesting path he takes. Bread was an important part of any meal in the ancient world. Bread is important at mealtime for many today, but it was truly more important to them than any of us. We may like to eat bread, but bread wasn’t just something to eat, it was sometimes the biggest part of the meal. It also wasn’t just something to eat, bread was a utensil with which they would eat. They would use the bread to push the food up onto a fork or spoon.

Bread is also interesting because it was served at every meal. We eat a meal and about five hours later, we eat again. About five hours after that, we eat again. It could be that the psalmist was saying, the dumb, evil-doers constantly are eating away at God’s people.

Another thought crossed my mind. I don’t know much about sharks except that I am not particularly interested in sharing my swimming area with them. I am not sure when I saw this on television but I know that is where I saw it, perhaps on “Shark Week” or something. If a shark becomes injured and bleeds into the water. Other sharks will since the blood in the water and the wounded shark will come under attack.

I know very little about chickens either beyond when you want some you go to KFC or Church’s. Someone shared with me some time back, that if one chick looks different from all the others, the others will peck at it until they kill it.

We may not physically attack the wounded among us. We may not peck to death those that are different. But, often without even realizing we are doing so, we attack the most vulnerable among us. We don’t attack with our bearing our teeth with a vicious growl like a dog might do, but we still bring harm on one another. And, we also do so, without ever giving God a second thought.

When we fail to give God a second thought, when we do no fall before God with humble hearts, we not only act in ways that aren’t wise, the psalmist had it right. We act pretty dumb. That is a good challenge for us today.

Lord, place your wisdom in my head and run my dumb out. To respond to you is wise and to ignore you, well, that is pretty dumb. Amen.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights reserved.
Permission is given for non-commercial use of this work.


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