The heart of a fool

Reflections from the Pulpit

Posted 6/6/23

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). We hear the word fool and think...

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The heart of a fool

Reflections from the Pulpit


The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). We hear the word fool and think of an intellectually or socially deficient person – like the movie scene where a funny lad says something preposterous, and another man says, “Why, you must be a complete idiot!” And he responds, “Oh no! I’m just a half-wit. I hope to be a full idiot someday!”

This is humorous, but the point is that we use the term “fool” to refer to someone out of line with normal thinking or cultural expectation. However, when the Bible uses the word fool, it carries a spiritual meaning. The Hebrew word for “fool” in Psalm 14 refers to someone morally deficient, someone out of line with divine law, divine will. When humans care little about God’s word and will, and insert themselves as the practical authority of life, they are saying in their hearts, “There is no God.”

This is an earth-shattering truth for us. Many people say things like, “I believe in God,” or “I am spiritual!” but in everyday life, they refer to their own definitions, desires, and thoughts as the basis of action, the determiner of lifestyle. If you’ve ever heard someone claim to believe in God, yet at the same time saying, “This is my truth!” or something similar, you’ve seen this in action.

It is shocking to realize it is IN THE HEART that a fool says “There is no God.” In Hebraic metaphor, the heart (or bowels) is the seat of affections, the center of being. A person can give mental assent to the existence of God, but in his or her heart, still reject the word and will of God. In the heart, something else is center: false identity. So the person lives in practical unbelief, even while claiming outwardly to believe in God. This is precisely what God calls a fool.

I say I believe in God, well and good. But what does my heart say? What does my life say – the seat of my affections? Where are my passions and desires centered? What occupies my best thoughts, decisions, and moments? To what do I give life-allegiance? We cannot serve both God and mammon.

Jesus tells a beautiful story of a forgiven fool – the parable of the prodigal son. This son takes the gifts of life and health that he has been given, and spends them on his own desires. All is high and mighty for a while, but then the economy shifts. He ends up feeding pigs on a farm just to stay alive. Then comes a moment of light – pure grace. There, in the pig-sty, covered in the mess of his own self-identity, the prodigal son shocks awake. “I will arise and go to my Father!” “I will confess my sin and ask to be forgiven – ask to be a servant in His house.” The story ends with a ring of belonging on his finger, and a home-coming feast – what grace! So it is with all who confess and forsake their fallen identity, and return to the Father.

Only God can save a fool, friends. But, thankfully God CAN save fools! He saves fools every day. When we confess our need, confess that we are fools, He changes our hearts, renews our minds, and sets us on the path of life. By grace, through faith, we can believe in His Son, and find that He takes our foolish pride and sin upon himself. And we, once fools, are called sons and daughters of the Most High God – a holy ring on our finger, a Spirit seal in our hearts, and a covenant feast at home. Alleluia! Amen.