When There Is No God
Heavenly Father, all things and all places belong to You. I trust in Your sovereignty over all.
Read Psalm 53
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Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory… all the nations will be gathered before him” (Matt. 25:31,32).
What happens when people behave as if there is no God or, if he does exist, that he is practically irrelevant? This psalm addresses the state of society as a whole when all are “fools” (1). The “fool” is not the intellectual atheist but rather the person (even if religious) whose everyday life is lived as if there is no accountability (Psa. 10:4,11; Jer. 5:12). Like Nabal (his name is the same: “Fool”; 1 Sam. 25:3), such a person may be prosperous and prominent, “but makes a mistake about reality” (J. L. Mays). Essentially such “folly” is “what our culture teaches people to be—autonomous, self-directed, and self-sufficient—which makes some sense psychologically, but we often unconsciously translate the message into theological conclusions: We don’t need other people and we don’t need God” (J. C. McCann)!
Rather than praying to God (2), this folly leads to preying on other people (4; Mic. 3:1–3)! The results are various forms of oppression and inequity, whether physical, emotional or economic, whether active or unconcerned neglect. We see situations where corruption is endemic, financial and trade systems favor the wealthy and government expenditure prioritizes national security over aid and development.
It is tempting to see the “all” of verses 1–3 as other than “my people” (4) and yet Paul in quoting these verses recognizes that we all “fall short” of what God intends but by God’s grace we are “justified freely” (Rom. 3:10–12,22–24). Verse 5 is not easy to understand but probably describes defeat of the oppressors (as in the preceding psalm; Psa. 52:5,6). Is there a parallel in the way that “dread” (5) characterizes so much godless life today? It is a lifestyle that is actually doomed!
Christians, “my people” (4), seeing a hurting world and many suffering at the hands of wider society, pray in hope for the salvation coming from “the city of the living God” (Heb. 12:22; Rom. 11:26).
Thank God for his justifying grace and pray for wisdom to live in society as those who say, “There is a God.”
Lord, I lift up to You those who have left You out of their lives and who do their own thing. Give them such an emptiness that they will turn to You for life.
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