Psalm 14:1 opens with its well-known words: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds.” This verse is revealing on several accounts:
First of all, it is of interest that the Hebrew word for “fool” here is “nabal.” I Samuel 25 tells us the story of Abigail’s husband Nabal, and in :25 she says “Nabal is his name and folly is with him.” His name literally meant “fool”!
But perhaps more applicable is the next phrase of Psalm 14:1, which says: “They are corrupt, they have done abominable deeds.” This is notable, because it describes the deeds of the people as arising from who they ARE:
— “they ARE corrupt”
— “they have DONE abominable deeds”
A person’s deeds are the result of who they are, in their character.
It is just as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20) Who you ARE leads to what you DO. There is none of this attitude of: “He’s a good boy; he just got in trouble.” No, he did what he did because of who he is. Our character leads to our conduct.
This is no excuse to exercise judgment and look down on others. This verse exposes us ALL in this same way, for it goes on to say: “There is no one who does good”! Romans 3 quotes this verse in its sad “portrait of us all” which condemns all mankind as being under sin. Unfortunately, our character DOES manifest our conduct — and what it reveals is a need for God’s grace in every one of us!