By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
I often am struck by the incredible meaning of words as I study the Bible.
Words usually change meaning over time, and those definitions can drastically change the way that we understand God’s Word.
Let me share an example with you.
For years, I had heard this verse of the Bible quoted:
Psalm 14:1-The fool has said in his heart,”There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
I had usually heard the word “fool” explained like this:
“A person must be a fool (i.e., mentally challenged) to disbelieve in God.”
Of course, it is true that an honest evaluation of the evidence will always lead to the conclusion that there is a God. However, that isn’t really what this passage is talking about. Instead, it is reflecting a different meaning of the word “fool” than we are often acquainted with. You see, the word “fool” (nabal) used here means:
“Taking the words generally, apart from the Wisdom literature, we find nabhal frequently translated “fool” and nebhalah, “folly”; nabhal, however, denotes a wicked person, an evil character, “shamelessly immoral,” equivalent to “a son of Belial” (Cheyne), rather than a merely “foolish” person, and nebhalah, “wickedness,” “shameless impropriety,” rather than simple folly. We have almost a definition of nabhal in Isa 32:6: “For the fool will speak folly, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice profaneness, and to utter error against Yahweh, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.” Abigail described her husband, Nabhal, as “a son of Belial” (the Revised Version (British and American) “worthless fellow”), “for as his name is, so is he” (1Sa 25:25), and what we read of him bears out this character. Other occurrences of the words support the above meaning; they are generally associated with some form of wickedness, frequently with base and unnatural lewdness (Ge 34:7; De 22:21; Jos 7:15; Jud 19:23, 14; 20:6, 10; 2Sa 13:12). When in Ps 14:1; 53:1 it is said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,” it is followed by the statement, “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works,” showing that more than “folly” is implied. In Isa 32:5, 6 the King James Version nabhal is translated “vile person” and nebhalah “villany,” the Revised Version (British and American) “fool” and “folly,” Jer 29:23; halal, implying loud boasting is in the King James Version translated “foolish,” but it means, rather, “arrogant,” which the Revised Version (British and American) adopts (Ps 5:5; 73:3; 75:4, margin “fools”); cakhal, “a fool,” also occurs (Ge 31:28; 1Sa 13:13, etc.) for which word see (4) below; also ya’al “to be empty,” “to be or become foolish” (Nu 12:11; Isa 19:13; Jer 5:4; 50:36).” (W.L. Walker, ‘Fool,’ in James Orr,The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 63509-63526 (Kindle Edition); OSNOVA)
So a “fool” in the Bible was not so much one who was mentally challenged, as it was one who was morally obstinate.
That helps me understand atheism a lot better!
Nearly every atheist I have studied with has espoused atheism-not because of scientific evidence which leads to the conclusion that God does not exist-but because of some emotional trauma or rebellion against God.
Oh, please don’t misunderstand me.
Usually, there has been some influence from Darwinistic pseudo-science on the souls I have been blessed to study with.
Yet there is nearly always some emotional objection (for lack of a better term) to God.
Amazingly, even many atheist scientists themselves acknowledge this.
“Writing in Nature as long ago as 1929, biologist D. M. S. Watson brazenly conceded, ‘The theory of evolution itself [is] a theory universally accepted, not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative is special creation, which is clearly incredible’113 (emphasis added). The palaeontologist L. T. More, of the University of Chicago, has said much the same thing: ‘Our faith in the idea of evolution depends upon our reluctance to accept the antagonistic doctrine of special creation.’114 So has the eminent British anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith: ‘Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable’115 (emphasis added).” (John Blanchard, Does God Believe In Atheists? 2383-2394 (Kindle Edition); Carlisle, PA; EP Books USA)
Pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you say?
I will stick with the Psalmist, who pointed out what science has been continually confirming since the dawn of Creation:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.