Psalm Fourteen: There is None Who Does Good, No, Not One
There is perhaps no worse news ever given, nor any grimmer verdict ever uttered under heaven, than that stinging indictment of the psalmist against the human race, â€œThere is none who does good, no, not one!â€. Consider how certainly this truth is established, and by what unassailable testimonies it has been sealed: Yahweh himself has looked down from heaven, he has searched out all the world and examined every child of man, to see if there is anyone who understands, anyone who seeks God â€“ but, no, the answer comes back when the universal search is ended: they have all gone astray without exception, they are all corrupt, they all do abominable things, they have all despised and scoffed at God, and in their inmost hearts refused even to acknowledge the existence of him who created them, the evidence of which is borne out by their lives lived with no fear of God before their eyes.
But hold up a minute, what a paradox we have stumbled upon! All these who are wicked, among whom not even one who is good has been found, display their wickedness by eating up Yahweh's people as bread. Soon they will be cast into terrors, for God is with the generation of the righteous ones whom they would rend and tear, he is the Refuge of the poor whose plans they would confound. But where, one must ask, have these righteous people of Yahweh been discovered, when he has already passed the verdict that all have gone astray?
This enigma perplexes us, and were it not for the surpassing wisdom of the Savior, we might stumble at it, and not arise; but did you not notice that they whom the psalmist once calls righteous, he again calls poor? And in the blessed conjunction of those two words, we are carried away by the Spirit to another, greater Teacher of Israel. â€œBlessed are the poor in spirit,â€ the Wisdom of God has proclaimed; â€œBecause theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.... Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they shall be filledâ€ (Mat. 5:3, 6). Is it really that simple? All really are wicked, there really is none who does good â€“ but they who know their poverty, and hunger and thirst for a righteousness that they have not, they and only they will be filled with righteousness, and so made the people of God!
And to this sweet testimony the apostle also lends his voice, quoting this passage at length and concluding all under sin; â€œBut now,â€ he thrills to announce in a crescendo of triumph, utterly stripping the devastating news he had just established of all its bitter sting, â€œthe righteousness of God has been made manifest apart from the Law, being testified to by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, unto all who believe!â€ (Romans 3:21-22).
O corrupt sinner, do you tremble at your own wickedness? Do you know the poverty of your soul, do you realize the depths of depravity that have stained your black heart from birth? Then I say to you, rejoice! The people of God are not his people by their own righteousness. He has provided a perfect righteousness for them, even his own righteousness, which he sent his own Son to win in the place of his people, and freely to impute to their account by faith. Would you be accounted one of God's own righteous people? Well, the pathway lies through paradox, for first of all, you must be wicked; and then, in your wickedness and poverty, you must seek refuge in Yahweh, and he will grant you his own righteousness, and make you among the number of those who will certainly see him provide their eternal salvation from Zion, and restore their fortunes.
â€œLet Jacob rejoice,â€ therefore; â€œLet Israel be glad!â€ (vs. 7).