The psalmist’s solution amidst social turmoil

Our perspective can be lost only when we take our eyes off of the purpose of God and his sovereignty.

Our perspective can be lost only when we take our eyes off of the purpose of God and his sovereignty.

Psalm 11:1-3 – I have taken refuge in Yahweh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird! For look, the wicked string bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

This entire psalm which is only seven verses long highlights the distinctions between the wicked and the righteous. The psalmist seems to be expressing his frustration at the success of the wicked who appear to have overcome the righteous by “shooting from the shadows at the upright in heart.” The wicked hide in the darkness to undermine the foundational basis, or the political or moral purpose of society.

We seem to be in similar societal times today with a spinning moral compass at every turn and divisiveness rampant among our culture. As believers, we struggle to understand how we should act and react amidst the chaos and turmoil of popular opinion and current events. To this, the psalmist provides some straightforward advice.

  1. God is a secure refuge.

Psalm 11:1 – I have taken refuge in Yahweh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird!

For believers, when we place our confidence and our trust in Yahweh, he becomes a refuge and a fortress of protection amidst the ebb and flow of the tides of public opinion. This is because his wisdom is timeless and unchanging. We should not seek to escape the turmoil by “escaping to the mountains,” as pleasing as that sounds. Instead, we need to be firmly committed to our trust and confidence in God’s purpose and kingdom.

Psalm 33:10-11 – Yahweh nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of Yahweh stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

  1. God is ultimately in control of everything.

Psalm 11:4 – Yahweh is in his holy temple; Yahweh –his throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; his gaze examines everyone.

We can take comfort in the fact that God is calmly removed from the turmoil we may be experiencing. Nothing slips past the notice of God. Nothing is done in a corner.

Hebrews 4:13 – And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

  1. God’s judgment is sure.

Psalm 11:5-6 – Yahweh examines the righteous, but he hates the wicked and those who love violence. Let him rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked; let a scorching wind be the portion in their cup.

In true Hebraic fashion, the psalmist speaks of the justice of God in terms that his hearers would understand. The burning coals and sulfur is a reference to the judgment that had been poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah and would be a compelling illustration of the unyielding judgment of God whenever society became corrupt to the core. But within that measure of judgment, the hearer would also know that God would spare the city (or nation) if even ten righteous people were found within it. As much as we would love to run away from the conflict around us, our righteous presence amidst the ungodly is the very salt needed to heal.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

  1. God’s presence will reassure the righteous.

Psalm 11:7 – For Yahweh is righteous; he loves righteous deeds. The upright will see his face.

God loves righteous actions because he is righteous. Those who are upright and act with integrity in all things will “see his face,” a common Hebraic phrase of receiving the favor of God.

As believers, we should not fear the times we live in or the people who are erring around us within their own cultural darkness, shooting at the righteous from the shadows of their own making. Instead, we should be established confidently in Yahweh our refuge, firmly standing for what is right, not heading for the hills. Our role is to be that which is the preserver in society, the strength of the foundational and moral purpose upon which it is built. We can take comfort knowing that ultimately God is in control, even if we can’t see it ourselves at times, but knowing that his judgment is sure and his objectives are timeless and eternal. This is our strength and confidence; this is our calling.

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