2 Samuel 22; Psalms 14 & 53; 1 Samuel 26
I love reading God’s Word. I look forward every day to opening my Bible and reading what God says to me. I believe every chapter, every verse, every word is included in these precious pages for an eternal reason.
So when He inspired men to repeat a phrase, or an entire story, I sit up and take notice. I figure God must think there is something there He doesn’t want me to miss.
Today I read two psalms that are almost identical. Sources say it wasn’t unusual for musicians to adapt a song to their own style, much like contemporary artists who re-work hymns to their own styles. But why would God inspire men to include two versions of the same psalm in the Bible? I took a closer look.
Both psalms being with,”The fool says in his heart there is no God.” In reality, these fools are corrupt and vile.
I get that. People who deny the existence of God are flat out God’s enemy. How much more vile can a person be who refuses to acknowledge the Creator? That’s the definition of “fool.”
But the psalms go on and say God is looking for anyone who understands and seeks Him. They say things like, all have turned aside, all are corrupt, no one is good. Not even one.
Now wait a minute. Does the psalmist dare to put all people in the same category as a vile atheist? Even me? Say it isn’t so.
I went to some of my trusted commentators and read what they had to say concerning these psalms. The term, “practical atheism” was a common theme among the writers. Matthew Henry, on page 633 of his Commentary In One Volume, says this:
“Atheists, whether in opinion or practice, are the greatest fools in the world.”
Opinion or practice.
I guess you don’t have to verbally pronounce you believe there is no God. How you live might be expressing the same belief just as clearly.
The psalmists put people in two categories. Fools, and those who understand and seek God. I am reminded that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Hebrews 11 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
So I ask myself: Can I be a Christian and live like I’m not? Can I be a Christian and not read my Bible, pray, serve God, love God, and obey Him?
When I think about it, I don’t see anything in the Bible about God recognizing a mediocre, or a half-Christian. Scripture repeatedly tells us it’s all or nothing. If we’re not for God, we’re against Him. We can’t serve two masters.
God must think it’s important for us to consider whether or not we are in this with Him, or we wouldn’t be reading the same psalm twice. A fool says there is no God, either by speaking the words, or by living as though we think there is no God. A practical atheist is no less an atheist than one who proclaims “There is no God.”
So what might practical atheism look like in my life? Putting something or someone ahead of God in my life. Dishonoring God’s name. Not living a life set apart, not making disciples. Complaining, jealousy, selfishness, thinking myself more highly than I should. As I sit here and think about what practical atheism looks like, I come to realize that allowing any sin to exist in my life gives the message that I don’t really believe in God as He is presented in the Bible. Isn’t that what an atheist is?
I thank God for the latter verses of these psalms, and for the Truth of Jesus Christ. Because there was a time when I was corrupt, vile, evil, and lived like I thought there was no God. That is, until I accepted Jesus as my Savior and became His precious child.
Now, I want to live my life acknowledging the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I want to live my life understanding and seeking Him, loving Him with all my heart, soul, and strength, diligently pursuing Him. I want to recognize sin in my life and repent of it immediately, understanding that God will not tolerate any sin.
What does your life say about God? That there is a God you love and serve, a God who you seek diligently above all else. Or does your life say that you don’t really believe in God even though your words say you do?
Practical atheism? That’s so foolish.