Opening: Last Sunday, we have learned six things from Ephesians 5:15-20 that God wants to do this year and in the rest of our lives: 1) To be careful in spending our time 2) To be productive 3) To be wise 4) To be filled by the Spirit 5) To praise God 6) To be thankful in all circumstances. Today, we will learn what God wants us to do when facing a threat, challenge, or danger in our lives. Let us read from Psalm 11.
Verse 1: David began this psalm with a statement of faith: "In the Lord I take refuge." So, he asked his friends why they told him to "Flee like a bird to your mountain." When birds face the danger of storms, they fly to the mountain for their safety. Why did David's friends ask him to flee?
Verse 2: His friends gave him the reason: "For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart." Probably the wicked that David's friends meant was King Saul and his people. As you know, after David killed Goliath, he became a national hero. In the beginning, King Saul liked him. He invited David to live with him. When Saul was sad, David made music for him. That made Saul happy again. Later, because of David's popularity, Saul became jealous. He thought that David wanted to become king. That was not true. But King Saul had become wicked and wanted to kill David, the innocent young man. If the man who tried to kill David was a peasant, he should not worry too much. But the man was a king who had great power and many soldiers. So, David was in great danger.
In Verse 3: His friend explained more about the situation: "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" As a king, Saul should protect his people and enforce the law. Instead, he destroyed the law and misused the power that God gave. 1 Sam 22 recorded how Saul killed the priests of Nob. In that situation, what David could do?
More than fifty years ago, Arno. C. Gabelein called this the burning question of our day. What Can The Righteous Do When:
- Society undermines morality, and evil sweeps unchecked?
- The Bible is attacked, and its teachings are ridiculed and ignored?
- Even professed Christians support the rising tide of unbelief?
- Family values are crumbling, and the wave of frequent divorce sweeps forward with increasing damage to children, parents, and society alike?
- Everything around us seems to be giving way?
That is still a common question among God's people. It is frustrating to feel powerless in the face of crumbling foundations, and some become convinced that there is nothing we can do. In that situation, some people follow the poor advice of "flee," or in our modern times, "hunker down, get in the bunker, save yourself and your children and withdraw completely from society."
When the foundations are crumbling, the temptation is to stop speaking the truth and stop being the light. "What can the righteous do?" They can go on being righteous. And they can stand against the evil of their society. The one thing they must not do is to 'flee to the mountains.' That was what David did. He refused to run away. He said, "In the LORD I take refuge." He was not afraid of King Saul, who wanted to kill him because he had God, the LORD, who is greater and more powerful than King Saul. Instead of running away, he ran to God and followed His guidance! Later, David did go because God told him to.
App.: We live in a situation that is similar to David. What Arno Gabelein wrote above is happening in our society. Sometimes we feel like this. We want to run away. We say, "Everything is going wrong." We must be like David. We must stay where God puts us!
Verses 4a: "The Lord is in His holy temple." The temple of God reminds His people of His presence among them. David believed that God never abandoned him. God is his protector!
Verse 4b "the Lord's throne is in heaven." King Saul's throne is only in a small country in the Middle East. But God's throne is in heaven, which is above all kings' thrones on earth. In other words, God is the most powerful One. For David, no matter how dangerous his situation was, he put his trust in the almighty God and only feared Him. Remember: Even if no one believes in God, God still exists. Even if no one believes that the Bible is the word of God, it is still the truth. Even if no one cares for the Bible's teachings, they will still judge everyone on the last day. Even if no one thinks that judgment day will arrive, Jesus will still come and execute His judgment. New Testament Christians also lived during a time of "crumbling foundations." Yet, they were reminded that God's truth was still valid. The eternal foundations were still intact; do not be deceived when people claim otherwise (Eph 5:6).
11:4c "He observes everyone on earth; His eyes examine them." David believed God, whose throne is in heaven, observes all that people do (see Proverbs 15:3).
11:5 "The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion." When God seems to move slowly, this should not be interpreted as inaction or apathy. What happens in our lives, church, society, and country can be an exam or a test to reveal who we are. The result will show our faiths' quality: Do we believe in the true God of the Bible or false gods of money, fame, and power? Do we fully trust in God's love, wisdom, and power even when the situation seems hopeless? Or will we compromise the biblical truth for the sake of the world or get accepted by the secular society? The test result will also reveal our hearts: Do we love God, or we still love the world with everything it offers? Do we put ourselves under the Lordship of Christ, or we still want to be the captain of our lives?
11:6 "On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot." God not only reigns, He observes all men, examines and tests the righteous and the wicked, and lastly, He prepares judgments for the wicked. "Fiery coals and burning sulfur" clearly seems to be a reference to the historical destruction that befell the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). It reminds us that the Bible is not a book of empty threats; God's judgments do come (2 Peter 3:10). Neither is this statement some "mean-spirited and unspiritual attitude found in the Old Testament." Jesus also tells about the judgment day several times in Matthew 10:15; 11:22,24; 12:36; 25:41.
App.: Many bad people seem to escape from God's judgment in their lives; they seem to be happy and prosperous even though they openly mocked God. Some people even successfully covered their heinous crimes and deceived millions of people with their performance, like what Sir James W. Vincent "Jimmy" Savile OBE did. He was an English DJ, television presenter, media personality, and charity fundraiser. He hosted the BBC television show "Jim'll Fix It." He was the first and last presenter of the long-running BBC music chart show Top of the Pops and raised an estimated £40 million for charities. After his death on October 29, 2011, hundreds of allegations of child sex abuse and rape became public. The police believe that Savile may have been one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.
Verse 7: For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face. The psalm ends with a beautiful promise. Righteous people will one day see the face of God!
We don't know what will happen to us this year. Yesterday I read the news about an airplane crash in Indonesia that killed all 62 passengers. The co-pilot was a believer. He took a picture and sent it to his wife before the plane took off. He didn't know that that was his last moment in his life. Yesterday, I also heard the sad news about Oriesa's father. He has gone to be with the Lord after getting a Covid-19 infection.
Bad things, such as accidents and sickness, can happen to God's children. But we should not forget that God is always in control of everything. He might not want those things to happen, but things will not happen if God does not allow them. God never lost control of everything. R.C. Sproul used to say, "There are no maverick molecules." What he meant by that was that God is always in control. Therefore, there is no random out of control virus going on right now. It might seem that way from our perspective, but our God is sovereign, and He's almighty, and He is in control! Paul says in Col 1:16-17, "For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
Closing: Psalm 11 reminds us that even though the situation around us seems to be out of control, chaotic, very dangerous, and scary, God, whose throne is in heaven, sees everyone and everything, is still in control. Therefore, we can trust in Him and make Him our security and our refuge. He is the just judge who tries all hearts and hates men of violence. Don't be afraid and compromise to the world; even if the wicked destroy the foundations of morality and biblical truth, God is still in control. And even if every Christian on earth ceased to exist, the real foundations would be just as sound and firm. Remember, only eight people believed in God at one time on the earth, yet God was just as powerful and intervened. The foundations are still intact! Like David, may God help us to be able to say meaningfully, "In the Lord I take refuge."