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Psalm 14 Sermon From November 2012 Prayer Service

Psalm 14 Sermon From November 2012 Prayer Service


Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / November 7th 2012: Season of Pentecost, Psalm 14 "The Fall of Hammers"


         The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

                   They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,

                   there is none who does good.

          The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,

                   to see if there are any who understand,

                   who seek after God.

          They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;

                   there is none who does good,

                   not even one.

          Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers

                   who eat up my people as they eat bread

                   and do not call upon the LORD?

          There they are in great terror,

                   for God is with the generation of the righteous.

          You would shame the plans of the poor,

                   but the LORD is his refuge.

          Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!

                   When the LORD restores the fortunes of His people,

                   let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.


                                                                               (Psalm 14 ESV)


Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all are hearts be acceptable in your sight O, Lord. Amen.


Grace, peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Good Christian Friends. If we were to go back in time a bit, to let’s say November 7th 1980, and we were to be in Russia, we would see the celebration of a state holiday marking the “Great October Socialist Revolution”of 1917. One of the key convictions of the Communist uprising was this: That there was no God and that Religion was the opiate of the masses.[1] 

Within a year of the revolution The Communist regime had confiscated religious property and church buildings, and set itself on a path that would include ridiculing religion, harassing imprisoning torturing and martyring believers by the millions, and changing the nature of education in order to propagated atheism in schools. There were times when they hammered away against Christianity with a relatively light hammer and times when they hammered away with a very heavy handed hammer indeed.

It was their firm conviction that it was foolish to believe in God or in anything that was seen by them to be ‘subjective fiction’ i.e. ‘the Bible’; but what does the Word of God say about such a position? Psalm 14 says, “The fool says in His heart, “There is no God.”” The Communist Government thought themselves to be wise, they didn’t see themselves as fools; fools seldom see their foolishness: “The fool is not a person who simply lacks intellectual gifts and understanding. He is one who stubbornly rejects the wisdom of God.”[2] The prophet Isaiah describes the fool like this, he says,

        “For the fool speaks folly,

                   and his heart is busy with iniquity,

                   to practice ungodliness,

                   to utter error concerning the LORD,

          to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,

                   and to deprive the thirsty of drink.”[3] 

Jesus [says], “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”[4] The fool doesn’t just want to go hungry himself, the fool doesn’t just want to thirst all on his own; the fool isn’t satisfied until he has worked to make everyone thirsty and hungry. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The Psalmist says that these ones “are corrupt, [and that] they do abominable deeds.” Saint Paul puts this into some perspective when he writes in 1 Corinthians that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”[5] Having been taught this, and rejecting it, the fools with great strength and determination took their hammer from their sickle and hammered away at the word of God, believing it could be destroyed.

One of the Churches that is likely etched into your mind when you think of Moscow, is probably the 16thcentury Cathedral of St. Basil with its swirling colourful domes and red stone work. It stands there, impressively made, very near the Kremlin on the Red Square and while it had every appearance of a Cathedral back in the days of the Soviet Union it was no longer a church, it had been turned into a museum and no church services were held there, no Scriptures were read there, no Sermons were preached there, no Sacraments were administered there, no one gathered there to worship the Lord Jesus or to sing His praise. This again shows what these atheists wanted to do; by turning St. Basil’s into a museum they wanted God to be relegated to the museum, it was there conviction that if they killed and imprisoned enough Christians, and demolished enough churches, if they used enough churches as grain silos and museums that God would just become some old broken fictional thing from the past, hammered down to size and put in His place.

The Psalmist asks “Have [these fools] no knowledge, all [these] evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?”  The question is one of callousness, for the fool is a god unto himself, this is why this Psalm in seated in the 1st commandment, and why it addresses the  2nd and 3rd Commandments also. This Psalm is about the debasement of God and His Holy Name, and when His name is debased so is your name because you are sealed into the Name of Jesus, in your baptism. The Psalmist makes a direct appeal to the Fool saying, “You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is [the] refuge [of the poor].” We heard the beatitudes read from Matthew this evening but listen to the same now form Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, when He says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”[6]

Jesus has made His church more resilient than the fools of the world. When the world sees you as weak, remember that your strengthis in Christ  Jesus and in His cross. The fool both despises this and everything to do with God and underestimates this and everything to do with God at the same time.  The Atheists of the Soviet Union didn’t just say in their hearts that there was no God, they said it with their lips, and with their works: [they] “proved themselves to be corrupt, they showed their abominable deeds.” Even still, as we look back, and they stand there with their hammer and sickle, the question is this: “did they not know – how foolish they truly were?” they weren’t the first people to rebel against God. Did they remember that there was once “an arrogant civilization ...[who] lived in defiance of God until the flood swept [them] away. [or that there was] an [overconfident] people [who] built the Tower of Babel in defiance of God until they were scattered by God. [Or that there was a] foolish nation [who] despised God’s Grace and turned to the Baals [the gods of their neighbours] until [they were] sent into captivity in Assyria and Babylon. ... [“Did they not know – how foolish they truly were?”] Fools never learn. Today [many nations and peoples within] the human race continue [their] headlong plunge to destruction, clinging to [their] folly and despising the wisdom of the gospel, which is [their] only hope.”[7] 

Psalm 14 ends with a prayer of supplication:

          Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!

                             When the LORD restores the fortunes of His people,

                             let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

The Psalmist waited for the Christ, the Psalmist waited for the Saviour, we wait for that same gladness to come in the return of Jesus on the Last Day, the day upon which the final and complete restoration of the people of God will take place. In the mean time we the church suffer the persecutions of a world that hates us and the One Who sends us. For our brothers and sisters in the former Soviet Union and for all the ones who through the course of time stood face to face with the barrel of the gun, or who found their necks on the chopping block, or their flesh consigned to the fire, their lives were in the hands of fools, and we too might just as easily find our lives in the hands of men and women who break the first table of the commandments with impunity, our lives may one day likewise be the hands of those who say there is no God ... Remember that your life is not truly in their hands ... your life is in the hand of God, for they are fools and God is your refuge. Their foolish plans will not frustrate the plan of God, who “when the fullness of time had come, ... sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”[8] They cannot take that adoption from us, even if they take all our possessions, our loved ones or even our life. Jesus gave up all these things so that you in eternity will never want for anything. Jesus [says], “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” No fool can take that from you.

Since 2004, that Russian Church, St. Basil’s, that was once only a museum under the atheists, now gathers together for a worship service once a year in October[9]and the 300 and some other churches in Moscow hold regular worship services, the Scriptures are read there, Sermons are preached  there, the Sacraments are administered there, the Christians gather there to worship the Lord Jesus and they sing His praise. The Communist atheism of the Soviets failed, because their plans were the plans of the Fool, all their hammering away at God’s Children, God’s Kingdome, God’s Word was in vain. If you have been a fool, repent and return to the Lord your God there is forgiveness even for the fools:

I leave you with this popular pomes by John Clifford;[10] 

               Last eve[ning] I passed beside a blacksmith's door,

               And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;

               Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor

               Old hammers, worn with [the] beating years of time.

               "How many anvils have you had," said I,

               "To wear and batter all these hammers so?"

               "Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye, [he said]

               "The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."

               And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word,

               For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;

               Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,

               The anvil is unharmed--the hammers gone.

Dear Christian friends the fools of the world are here and then they are gone, “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”[11] Who is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Eternal and “He is not God of the dead, but [God] of the living.” Therefore be glad, Jesus says to you in the Gospel of Matthew: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”[12] And no amount of hammering by fools will ever change that. Amen. 

Let us pray: Lord, have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.” 


[1] Paraphrase of quotation originating from the introduction of Karl Marx’s (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) proposed work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right”; this work was never written, but the introduction (written in 1843) was published in 1844 in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher.”

[2] A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, John F. Burg, pg 211.

[3] Isaiah 32:6

[4] John 6:35 

[5] 1 Corinthians 1:25

[6] Luke 6:20

[7] A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, John F. Burg, pg 214.

[8] Galatians 4:4-5

[9] At the Feast of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin (Oct 1st), the Church has also been re-consecrated.

[10] John Clifford (1836 – 1923) 

[11] Matthew 22:32

[12] Matthew 24:35