As a kid, I remember hearing news reports of wars and rumors of wars. Those conflicts were far removed from my life, and I naively assumed the grown-ups would figure it out. This week, like many of you, I’ve grieved over the news coming out of Israel. The headlines and images of the Hamas attack on Israel have been horrific, only to be followed by equally evil and apathetic responses from the world’s stage.
When death and destruction are celebrated instead of being condemned, it feels like what’s left of our crumbling foundations is quickly eroding away beneath our feet. How do we stand firm in our faith during such perilous and shaky times? At some unknown event in David’s life, he asked the same questions.
Flight or Faith?
In Psalm 11, Israel was going through a similar national crisis. Enemy assassins were lurking all around, and King David’s advisors urged him to run and hide in the mountains. David’s response was, “In the Lord, I put my trust: how can you say to my soul, flee as a bird to your mountain” (Psalm 11:1)?
Why should he take flight when his initial response was one of faith? As Israel’s King, David knew that if he ran away from his enemies, panic would ensue. Setting an example of faith, and drawing from past victories, David declared his trust in God. But questioning what was happening on a larger scale, his faith was mixed with fear. He asked, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do” (Psalm 11:3)?
Have you felt a similar mixture of fear and faith when you read the news, and try to make sense of all that is nonsensical? Do you wonder if evil will always prevail and if justice will ever be served? Does it feel like the basic foundations of upholding truth and goodness are rapidly crumbling away? David’s psalm gives us three ways to renew our perspective, and set our feet on solid ground, even when the foundations are being shaken.
God is in Control
Quelling the panic that was probably rising in his own heart and in those of his advisors, David remembered where God was; seated on the throne of heaven, seeing and testing all the sons of men (Psalm 11:4). In the midst of crisis, do you ever picture what that looks like? Do you meditate on the fact that no matter what’s happening in your life, or around the world, God is still on his throne; ruling and reigning over all things?
Isaiah saw what this looked like. In another time of national upheaval, after King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord in all of his heavenly splendor sitting upon his throne. The train of his robe filled the temple with glory and six-winged angels flew around him singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
Our mind’s eye can only imagine what Isaiah saw in his vision. Regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not, this fact remains true right now. God sits on the throne over all creation.
To say to our souls, when our foundations are shaken, “God is in control,” isn’t a throwaway statement. It means something. The Almighty is seated on his throne, and he sees everything and tests every heart. As such, the wicked should be afraid, very afraid.
Judgment is Coming
A popular objection to the gospel is, “How can a good God allow evil in the world?” Laced within that question is the admission that there is objective truth; right and wrong, good and evil. God’s wrath is not a subject we share as freely as his love, but we can’t have one without the other. For God to be loving, he has to also punish evil.
David acknowledged there was a dual purpose to his trial. He was being tested, but his enemies were being tried and found guilty. The cup of God’s wrath was filling to the brim against those who loved violence, and they would soon drink it all the way down to the dregs.
“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.”Psalm 11:5-6
When evil is running rampant and seemingly unchecked in our world, it should be a comfort to the saints that God is just and that he is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Their portion, or their inheritance, is one of hellfire and torment, without one drop of mercy. Someday, these atrocities we’re seeing play out across our phones will be punished. However, don’t hold your breath for justice to come down from a human court. Perfect justice will be handed down from the righteous Judge over all the earth.
We Shall See His Face
The inheritance of the wicked will be eternal torment, but the righteous will inherit unspeakable joy. David concluded his psalm by saying, “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face” (Psalm 11:7).
Someday, we’ll be in the very presence of God, and we shall see him in all his glory! Isaiah’s vision will be ours, and the troubles of this life will instantly melt away. The last chapter of Revelation includes the same promise, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (Rev 22:4).
Dane Orlund asked, “Have you considered this promise? Have you taken it down deep into your soul? This promise means that someday we will become ourselves, finally. It means we will be with the One of whom even the best earthly friendships are only a faint glimpse and to whom the most sublime earthly joys are finally pointing.”
Our portion, our inheritance, will make all this earthly suffering and sorrow feel light and momentary by comparison (2 Cor 4:17). Someday Christian, you will see him face-to-face. What a glorious, mood-altering, perspective-shifting, eyes-lifting truth!
On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
There’s no denying that we’re living in shaky times. The societal foundations beneath our feet are crumbling as we hear the drumbeat of war get louder, hear of human suffering beyond description, and feel the effects of a failing economy. I no longer believe the “grown-ups” will fix this. In fact, I think they only make it worse. My hope isn’t in man, but in the God who sees all things, sits on his throne, and will one day judge in perfect righteousness.
Psalm 11 is a psalm for today! It sets our gaze higher, (even into the throne room of heaven), and plants our feet on the solid ground of who God is. When foundations were being destroyed, David declared his trust in God. Where are you putting your trust in these shaky times? If it’s placed in the Lord, your foundation is firm, and you won’t be shaken, come what may.
On Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.
P.S. Consider more of David’s meditations in Psalm 23 with this free e-book Paths of the Righteous.