“The Fool Says, ‘There is No God’”


Readings: Psalm 14:1-7 (text); Romans 3:10-12; Heidelberg Catechism LD 3
June 21, 2015 • Download this sermon (PDF)

Dear Congregation of Christ: Most of us are familiar with the story of David, Nabal and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. David fled to Carmel with his 600 loyal men from King Saul’s jealous rage. In Carmel, there was a wealthy man named Nabal with several thousand sheep and goats. During the sheepshearing feast, David sent ten of his men to Nabal to ask for a share of the food and water. David expected Nabal to be generous to his men since they have guarded his flock while they stayed there. But Nabal, being greedy and arrogant, refused him, saying with sarcasm, “Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” (v 11).

The Meeting of David and Abigail by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1630 (click image to enlarge)
“The Meeting of David and Abigail” by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1630 (click image to enlarge)

David was furious at Nabal for refusing to help, and ordered all his men to kill Nabal and his whole household. When Abigail, Nabal’s wife, learned of David’s plan, she intervened by sending food and drink to David without her husband’s knowledge. So David was appeased. When Abigail told him that she helped David, Nabal was heartbroken and he died ten days later. Eventually, David took Abigail as his wife.

The irony in this story is in the name of Nabal, which means “fool.” Maybe his name only sounded like Nabal, for what father would name his son a “fool”? But when Abigail spoke to David, she said that Nabal was “a worthless fellow,” adding, “Nabal is his name, and folly is with him” (v 25). But is Nabal the only fool in the story? He wasn’t, for David, “a man after God’s heart,” acted foolishly and rashly as well, planning a massacre without even consulting God. In this incident, the Elvis Presley song, “Wise men say, only fools rush in,” applies to David.

But David also wrote our text, Psalm 14, that begins with a condemnation of the “fool,” “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” He had some foolish moments in his life, but ulti­mately, he had wisdom in writing his psalms. In verses 1-6a, he laments that foolish and evil people persecute God’s people. Then in verses 6b-7, he praises the wise, godly people of God. Finally, David trusts that God would restore his people whom the foolish treat with cruelty.

Our theme today, then, is “The Fool Says, ‘There is No God’”: first, The Godless Who Have Become Corrupt;second, The Wise Who Take Refuge in God; and third, God’s Wise Plans for Both.

Read the rest of the sermon here.