Psalm 14 shows us the intimate connection between morality and knowledge through its breakdown. We trace the results of lack of knowledge leading through corruption to judgement.
The psalm opens by telling us how a fool acts: they tell themselves that there is no God. Folly is connected to a certain self talk – a deliberately lying to yourself. This deception leads to more immoral behavior: “abominable deeds.”
Then the scene shifts to heaven, where God checks out the situation – tries to find anyone who understands. The gloss on understanding is to seek after God. Knowledge, in other words, is a form of spiritual curiosity rather than the self-limiting closure of options that we saw in verse 1.
But instead of seeking understanding/God – “there is no-one who does good, not even one.”
This foolishness directly causes a violation of the twofold commandment: all evildoers “eat up my people as thy eat bread” and “do not call on the LORD.” These two are so interlinked that we can’t discuss them separately.
God doesn’t just let his people be destroyed but will rescue the poor from the corrupt fool. Our willful lack of knowledge cannot stand in light of the wisdom of God which finally will restore his people.
Obviously, this feels relevant to our current situation in which it feels like some of our political leaders embrace folly and turn away from God. This means they exploit the poor. But Psalm 14 has a reminder: God will be the refuge of the poor, even in the face of the fool’s plans.