"Shh! Mr. Duncan's coming!"
It's funny how kids are. There have been several times in my teaching career when I have heard those words as I walk down the hallway to my classroom. A lookout warning the other students to return to their desks, return to their assignment, or return the money they just took from my wallet. (Okay, I'm kidding on that last one!) The report of my return is heard by all in the classroom, but also by me as the sneaky "spy" at the door does not understand that Mr. Duncan has "teacher ears" and can hear all. (It's a real thing, Darby.) As a result, as I walk into a classroom full of hard-breathing desk sitters working hard to appear to be reading or finishing that last math problem, I know the truth. There's no fooling Mr. Duncan. Especially when you are so completely conspicuous.
The consequences come. "You know what you are to do if you get to the classroom and I am not here!" But that's the problem. You know the old proverb "When the cat's away, the mice will play." Even though they know I'll be back, they just can't help themselves. They must test the freedom. See what it tastes like.
Psalm 14 begins not with second graders, but adult fools. (David's word, not mine.) "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" David is telling us that the fool convinces himself that there is no God. Why? Well, just like second graders not seeing Mr. Duncan, we are convinced we can't see Him so He is not there watching us. And if He is not watching us, we can do whatever we want. As a result David says these fools "are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." David knows that those who dismiss God do not turn to righteousness, but instead turn to selfish and vile acts.
This is the lie of the world. Be your own god. You can do it on your own without God. But just like second graders who know that someone needs to watch for Mr. Duncan, the fool knows that God is near. "But there they [the fools] are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous." (Psalm 14:5) Regardless of how brazen their attitude and acts may seem, in the back of their mind, David says, they are "overwhelmed with dread". They can see that God is with the righteous, which means God DOES exist.
Solomon says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge". (Proverbs 1:7) This knowledge of Him leads us to follow Him, but do not be like the fool who "despises wisdom and instruction." Every one of those second graders know Mr. Duncan will be back, but only the wise do what they are supposed to be as a result of that knowledge.
God is "look[ing] down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek [Him]." (Psalm 14:2) Will He see you?