Psalm 14 is an enigma. It states that no one is good and then says that God is present with the righteous. How can God be present with those who do not exist? But before we answer this question, lets take a quick look at the structure of this psalm.
Before we look at the structure let me point out that Psalm 53 is an almost word for word copy of Psalm 14. Apparently the psalm existed in two version by the time it was actually written down. Check out my post on the 53rd Psalm to get a different take on the topic of this psalm.
Psalm 14 has 7 verses which are in a menorah pattern. This is a pattern used in the Old Testament to imitate the shape of a Menorah: a central idea with three ideas on each side that support the central idea. (I love the structural complexity hidden in most of the psalms!)
Here is the overall shape of the psalm:
|The fool says, "No God."|
|YHWH seeks for those who seek Him|
|No one is good|
|They don't understand|
|They will fear Him|
|YHWH is a refuge for the poor|
|Salvation is of God|
Central to this psalm is the question, "Have they no knowledge?"
Although they act like they do not fear God, they will! He will demonstrate His power to them when He protects the poor and righteous from their evil acts.
But that brings us back to our enigma.
Who are the righteous if none are good?
Paul in Romans 3 uses this psalm to demonstrate that no one is right before God. We cannot work our way to righteousness. But there is a righteousness available to us through faith. The answer is found in Romans 3:21-22.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction
The righteous are those who trust in God through faith in Jesus.
Paul goes on to explain in Romans 4 that humanity has always found righteousness only through faith in God and never through works. Those who read the psalm in the Old Testament time found righteousness through faith in God's revealed Word. Still today we find righteousness by trusting Jesus, the Word made flesh. So with this understanding, lets conclude by looking at the last verse of Psalm 14.
In verse 7 the psalmist cries out for salvation to come out of Zion to restore the fortunes of His people. That salvation is now here in Christ! We can be declared righteous and experience the joy of God's presence with us through faith in Jesus! And this should cause us to rejoice and be glad!
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad! Psalm 14:7c