if the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?

Psalm 11

1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 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; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulphur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

To their dismay, many Christians in the West, recognise that the world they now live in is a very different one from that in which they grew up. They were raised in a society with Christianity as the assumed moral base. Many who were not Christians broadly accepted Christian social values. Christianity shaped the prevailing culture. This has changed drastically. Christianity is now openly rejected by the cultural elites and many of its values are strongly opposed. Christianity is now considered oppressive . This has been clearly evident in the recent harrying of Kate Forbes as she stands for the SNP leadership.

By all accounts the most able candidate for the post, she has faced a onslaught of antagonism and invective because of her Christian views within the party and beyond. It seems it is possible to have a Hindu Prime Minister, in London a Muslim mayor, yet not a Christian leader of the SNP. Tim Farron experienced similar hostility within the Lib-dems. Any faith but Christianity is approved.

Psalm 11 speaks into this situation. In v3 we read

‘If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?

This seems precisely what is happening in our society. And we probably ask ‘What can the righteous do?’ The question asked is in some respects a valid question; what can the righteous do? Yet, here, it seems that the question comes more from a defeatist mentality than an inquiry of faith. David is being given advice to go into hiding but he does not agree with the advice. He sees the perspective arising from a weak faith, from the instinctive response of flight in the face of impending danger. There are times when flight is appropriate. David, who penned the psalm, had often to flee for his life, both from Saul and from his son Absalom. The early church was scattered because of persecution. However, flight, where possible, should not be the response of feverish panic They say,

“Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 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; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The images of a bird in danger, hunted humans, and collapsing foundations spell out the perceived danger. God’s people and the Davidic throne are becoming a target and the immediate, perhaps unthinking, urge is to run. The psalmist rejects this fear-driven perspective. To the question ;what can the righteous do’ he has one answer – trust. He gives his reasons.

1. The Lord is his refuge not a mountain. The first and abiding reaction to danger for God’s people should be to take refuge in the Lord. Frequently in the psalms the Lord is the refuge of his people. He is a strong tower. The righteous run into him and they are safe (Ps 18:10). Cf. 7:1. As the world becomes increasing hostile to God’s people we need to grasp firmly that the Lord is our strong refuge and our safety lies in hiding in him; our hearts are calmed as he is our refuge. There is nowhere safer than in the protection of the one who rules the universe’. The Lord surrounds his people. He gives courage on the day of battle (Ps 144:1)

2. David is secure because the The Lord is in his (earthly or heavenly) temple and on his heavenly throne. God’s earthly and heavenly dwellings were as one. David’s belief is that however chaotic things appear God has not relinquished his rule. Everything is in his hands. He is in control. He holds his people in the palm of his hands. It is vain for the nations to clamour against the Lord and his anointed (Ps 2). The Lord is in his holy temple let the earth remain silent before him (Hab 2:20). The Lord is our strength and covers our head in the day of battle (Ps 144:1).

3. David is safe because the Lord sees. What is happening on earth is not lost to the Lord. The detail of everything is daylight to him. He tests and weighs. He tests both the righteous and the ungodly (Cf Ps 7:9). Times of trouble are times of testing.

The Lord sees that the ungodly love their life choices and their violence, verbal or physical. We read that his soul hates the wicked and the one who does violence (11:5). The Lord does not look with detachment on the wicked. It is true he reaches out in love to them yet it is also true he hates evildoers ( 5:5). David calls upon the Lord to judge them. He calls on the judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah to fall on them – fire and sulphur. This is also the judgement of the lake of fire. As Christian’s we will want to forgive our enemies but we will also commit their judgement to the Lord, Vengeance belongs to him (Roms 12:17-21).

He tests his people too. He tests the righteous to see how they respond in days of trouble. He loves when they respond righteously. He loves when they speak and act appropriately and do not respond in the way they are treated. Job says. ‘When the Lord has tested me I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10). Through trials the Lord prepares us for a rich reward. The reward for faithfulness is that we shall ‘see his face’. There is no higher reward. Love wants both to look on the Lord and look like the Lord. Love delights in the face of the beloved. Our joy, after we have suffered a little while, will be to see his face. This world is not home; home is the father’s house. Home is dwelling with God and the lamb.

Psalm 175

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Scotland is rejecting the Lord and has been for some time. While it is clear that the foundations of the old and stable Christianity-grounded way of life are slippery it is not a time to panic. Let’s avoid battening down the hatches. It may be that this is a time of opportunity. Mainstream churches are selling out to the spirit of the age. Some erstwhile evangelical voices are now calling for evangelicals to be silenced; evil has become good. The clear water between Bible believing Christians and the values of our culture is visible as never before. We have an opportunity to pray and present our faith into this broken Canaanite culture. There may seem to be giants staking the land but the land is there to be taken. Let’s look for opportunities to do so.

Perhaps, even at this hour before midnight, the Lord will come in renewal. There seems to have been an awakening in Kentucky. Perhaps the Spirit of God will yet sweep through our land in renewing regenerating power. Wouldn’t this be thrilling?


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