I use an expression sometimes that people find amusing: “She ate his face.” It describes how a person might erupt on another and consume that person in his angry passion.
I don’t really mean it to be funny; rather, I often use it in a ministry context to break the tension I sense.
This idea of a person consuming another in a non-physical way is actually in the Bible and I’m sad to say that it describes something that happens frequently among people. We can see it in Psalm 14:4 (God speaking):
“Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, WHO EAT UP MY PEOPLE as they eat bread, and do not call on the LORD? (Psalm 14:4)
The Hebrew word that is translated as “eat” in this verse means to “consume, devour, dine upon, eat, feed on.”
People really do try to consume the souls of other people – they just aren’t aware that they do that and the people they consume do not know it either.
Everyone is just hustling to survive in a mean world. This really DOES happen.
Many years later, the Apostle Paul addressed this very same subject in a sobering verse:
“…all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:14-15)
If we do not walk with the Lord, we WILL try to feast on the souls of one another. I call this “soul cannibalism” and I believe it is just a part of walking after the flesh.
David began Psalm 14 by speaking to the condition of the world. He addresses the common belief either blatantly declared or more subtly voiced in living as if God doesn’t exist. God, through David, refers to these people as “fools” (the stupid and wicked.)
“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.” (Psalm 14:1)
The next verse reveals things from God’s perspective. It symbolically shows God scanning the earth from heaven, as if leaning out a window, looking to see if any understand (live intelligently regarding Him) and if any seek Him (actively follow Him.)
He refers to the people with a curious phrase: “the children of men.” This is a term that shows up 14 times in the Bible – all in the Old Testament before anyone had the chance to become a child of God (which happens ONLY through saving faith in Jesus Christ.) All ten instances of people being referred to as “children of God” are associated with Christians. Prior to that, people who followed God were merely called His “people”.
In verse 3 David reflects God’s sadness as He says:
“They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.” (Psalm 14:3)
David repeats a part of verse one here. This is always done in the Bible for emphasis. This reveals the Lord’s broken heart regarding the fact that not even one does good consistently. He tells us why that is: “They have all turned aside”. They have turned off HIS path and gone their own ways.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way….” (Isaiah 53:6)
After expressing his grief about all this, David speaks the verse we started with…about soul cannibalism. These eat up God’s people and do not call upon the Lord.
It’s a sobering concept to think that no one has to plan to consume other humans for survival. Simply choosing to not call upon the Lord puts them on a course that leads them to this. We can see it all around us.
Human trafficking, slavery, prostitution…these are extreme cases of this but there are slightly less extreme versions that are much more common, yet every bit as damaging for all involved. These would include verbal abuse of children, spouses and employees, malicious gossip, financial scams, theft and on and on.
David ends this short psalm with some encouraging facts for those who trust in the Lord:
Psalm 14:5 – he points out that the unrighteous are startled when they realize that God is WITH the righteous. The world attacks us but when they do (if we walk after the Spirit in reliance upon the Lord) they find themselves face to face with God!
Psalm 14:6 – David refers to the oppressors of God’s people as “the poor” and says that God has caused their advice to pale because His people actually run to the Lord as their shelter.
Finally, David cries out for something that happened in 33 A.D. and that benefits us today:
“Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!” (Psalm 14:7a)
Salvation, Jesus, HAS come out of Zion!
When that happened, we were freed from people who would cannibalize our souls:
“When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.” (Psalm 14:7a)
I wonder who many of us realize how free we are in Christ.
May we meditate on this today and may the Lord birth in us an unusual season of gladness and rejoicing as we receive that freedom!
And may, as some attempt to consume us, the resulting taste of Jesus in their mouths cause them to stop….and consider receiving Him as THEIR Lord.