One of the things I try to do in following Jesus is spend time reading Scripture. It is certainly more difficult now than when I was a pastor, but the struggle to “fit it in” is helping me learn just how difficult (and important) Bible reading is for the “working Joe.”
About six years ago, I started using the M’Cheyne Bible Reading plan. I certainly have not done it completely all six years, but I find it one of the best plans available because of the variety of readings it gives me every day.
Anyway, I think that one thing I might do occasionally is post a few comments on this blog for the reading from that day. That way, if you are reading along the same plan, what I write here will sync with what you were reading that day.
Today, one of the chapters in the reading was Psalm 53. It begins with a quite famous verse: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”
Lots of Christians love to use this verse to bash atheists. “Look!” they say. “The Bible says that atheists are fools! How can they be so ignorant as to not see that all creation speaks of the existence of God?” Then the Christian turns to Romans 1, or to some of the logical arguments for the existence of God.
However, this reading of the text is probably not what David had in mind. He was not writing against atheism. After all, atheism is really only a few hundred years old. Prior to the Enlightenment, everyone believed in the existence of some sort of god or gods. So Psalm 53:1 has nothing to do with atheism.
Rather, the author is writing against the person who chooses to live “as if” God were absent, not caring what we do, not watching over our lives. It is the one who believes God exists, but refuses to read God’s Word, listen to God’s voice, and instead, simply does what one pleases, without any thought of what God might desire.
In other words, who is the fool in view? It is the one who believes God exists, but refuses to obey what He says. And if you read the rest of Psalm 53, that is what the Psalm is all about: the foolishness of disobeying God. When viewed this way, the biggest fools of all are those of us (myself included) who pray to God, and read His Word, but do not do what He says.
This truth is also explained in passages like Matthew 7:24-29 and James 1;22-25.