The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. Yahweh has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
The Psalm speaks of “my people” in verse 4, the “righteous generation” in verse 5, and “His captive people” in verse 7; so at first glance we might read verses 1 – 3 and think, “That can’t be me the Psalmist is writing about, I belong to the second group in verses 4, 5, and 7.” Yet if we trust the exegesis of Paul and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we are faced with Romans 3:9ff that begins with: What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Paul uses Psalm 14:1-3 to demonstrate that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), in other words, we have all been there, we have all been identified with Psalm 14:1-3, these verses are not something we can read as if they don’t describe us; they may not describe us now, but they do describe us before we came into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
On the one hand the Scriptures affirm who we are in Christ (Eph. 1:1-12; 1 Pt. 2:4-12), on the other hand they remind us where we have come from (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Pt. 4:3-4). If we are in the “righteous generation” of Psalm 14:5 let us remember that all righteousness is that of Jesus Christ and that we are in this new creation because the Father drew us to Jesus, once we were dead, now we are alive; once we were blind, now we see. We couldn’t give ourselves life and we couldn’t give ourselves vision. Psalm 14:1-3 should be a sobering reminder of where we have been; it should also be a reminder that if God can save us then he can save others and that we are called to share the Gospel with others, no matter how rebellious or difficult they may seem to be – only God knows the heart.