“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God…'” (Psalm 14:1).
In recent years, this verse has been applied to people who do not believe in God. We may come to this verse and immediately think of atheists or even agnostics, but in ancient times there was no such thing as an atheist or agnostic. Everyone was religious and everyone believed in at least some type of deity. Although this verse could apply to people who don’t believe in God, I believe the psalmist has something else in mind as well.
The key to understanding this verse is the word “heart.” What do we say in our hearts? I’m reminded of the wonderfully simple (yet profoundly deep) advice given in Proverbs 4:23: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” What we keep in our hearts is what we love and desire. A person can believe in God but not desire God. A person can confess God but not love God. A person can say they are following God and do nothing to follow Him. The psalmist is not speaking about whether or not a person acknowledges God’s existence. The psalmist is concerned with what is in our hearts.
If God is the focus of our heart’s desire, then that will be seen in how we live our life. Our desires become our priorities. If we desire watching TV, then we will find ways to watch TV. If we desire a healthy relationship with someone, then we will make sacrifices to please them and honor them. If we desire God, then we will want to worship and serve Him every opportunity we get. We will want to be of use in His kingdom and tell others about Him. We will model our lives after Christ. We will spend time contemplating the things of God. What a person desires is usually pretty obvious. Others can see it in their lives. Even if we can fool others, we can’t fool God. The psalmist says that if we are wise, then we will love and desire God with all of our heart.