for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:1-3).
David was facing a perilous time from his foes. It is uncertain what occasion this psalm referred to or who the foes were. There were numerous times when he faced enemies, the worst of which were, sadly, from his own people and even from his own family. Before he became king, Saul, because of jealousy, had hunted David like an animal, intent on killing him. Some think this Psalm relates to the time during this period when Saul’s chief herdsman, Doeg, saw David going to the priest, Ahimelech, and told Saul about it. Saul then instructed his guard to kill all the priests. There were eighty five of the priests killed that day.
Whatever the occasion, David’s advisers were telling him in verses 1c-3 to “flee like a bird to your mountain,” or as people might have said in the days of the old west, “David, get out of Dodge!” All they could see was the immediate threat from his enemies. They were doomsayers, seeing only the crumbling disintegration of the foundations of the kingdom and lament over the apparent (to them) pending destruction. The foundations of the kingdom were being destroyed and all they could do was stand around and wring their hands at the impending disaster. David didn’t join them in their funereal lament. He says to them, “In the Lord I take refuge” so how can you tell me to flee? He saw greater security in the Lord than in the mountains.
While morality and righteousness are essential to the security of any nation, ultimately God is the only secure refuge for those who trust in him. Rulers and the nations they rule will all eventually change – seldom for the better. A nation that is established on the highest principles at their beginning will eventually be overcome by indifferent, selfishly motivated people. Societies that once sought a base on high moral principles sooner or later grow lax and indifferent toward those original guiding precepts. It was happening in Israel in David’s day. It is happening in our nation today. The foundations are being destroyed. What were the righteous to do? What ARE the righteous to do today?
I believe we are witnessing the disintegration of America in these days. The foundations of morality, responsibility and accountability are being eroded by a philosophy that seeks selfish goals above the good of family and community. We are a nation that has created an irresponsible segment of our populace by making them dependent on welfare while denying them the dignity of responsible, productive lives. Today while one political party is intent on redistribution of wealth in an increasingly socialist state, the other party is steeped in an economic philosophy that makes greed the fundamental motivating element. Neither approach can long sustain a viable society.
In our day the basic unit of a stable society, the family, is under an all-out attack by the loose morals that encourage fornication and divorce, has legalized abortion on demand, has accepted homosexuality as not only a normal lifestyle for whoever wants it, but demonizes any criticism or denunciation of it as a perversion of God’s intended order. Add to that the increasing demand for and acceptance of same sex “marriage,” and it becomes obvious to anyone who knows anything about history that the foundations of our society are in a very poor state of repair. At the present rate of decay, our foundations cannot support our civilization for much longer.
So, what are the righteous to do? Are we to do as David’s friends advised him and flee to the mountains? It might help us to think about David’s reasons for taking his refuge in the Lord.
“The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord‘s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” (Psalm 11:4-5).
First, what did he mean when he said that the Lord is in his holy temple? Did he not mean that although the foundations of the nation were crumbling, God is where he is supposed to be? The decline and fall of nations and of civilizations does not affect God. He will always be found where one would expect to find him. He is always on his throne. He is the one who ultimately is in control over the whole of his creation. Men may make a mess of things within God’s glorious creation, but no matter what men may do, God is still on his throne. He is steadfast and unwavering. He can be depended upon. He is the uncreated creator, the unmovable mover. He is the only secure refuge for the righteous.
There is another reason for David’s confidence in the Lord. He is the judge who will set right all things according to his perfect righteousness. God is aware of who is responsible for the disintegration of the foundations because he sees all of us and all that we do. He hates those who destroy their world and bring suffering on people because of their wickedness.
While the righteous may suffer in the collapse of a nation or a civilization, their hope is not in these. These things are man-made constructs and as such are in a constant state of change – for better or worse. But the Christian is not tied to any of these – our commitment is to a higher realm.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20).
This does not mean that we have no responsibility to this world, however. Christians, individually and as the church, have a most serious obligation to be a constant reminder to the present world that there is a different and better way for men to live and a higher hope than anything this present world system can offer. We have an obligation to not only preach the gospel of God’s grace and forgiveness, but to also out-live the people of the world and by this show that better way in concrete, convincing form.
Are we willing to call for the judgment of God upon the destroyers of the foundations of righteousness as David did in his day? Are we willing to suffer the “fall-out” from their judgment?
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. (Psalm 11:6).
No judgment is pleasant. For a nation, a judgment of God will be a time of severe distress. If it entails a collapse of that nation’s economy, it’s governmental system, it’s social structure or conquest by an enemy, people will suffer – the righteous and the unrighteous alike. But the righteous have something to sustain them through hard times. It is the righteous character of the Lord and his love for those who love him. There is the certainty for the righteous that they will “behold his face,” or know him in intimate friendship and fellowship.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.” (Psalm 11:7).
This is greater security than offered by any human nation that has ever existed. It is an eternal security that is not and cannot be threatened by political upheavals, economic reverses or military conquest. In order to have that security we must trust in the Lord above all else. No government, no armies, no level of economic prosperity, no humanly offered freedom – nothing – can compare to the security that is found in the eternal God.
Why should the Christian become upset and distraught over a presidential election – or for that matter any election? Our peace and security lies in the hands of one who has far greater power to influence the world than any mere man. And think about this… it may be that an adverse outcome of an election is God’s doing. It may be his way of bringing judgment against this nation. After all, he still reigns over the kingdoms – and democracies – of men!