When Life Seems About to Crumble – Psalm 11

Crumbling houseYou’ve spent half a lifetime making the house you live in your castle. Then one day you see a crack in the family room ceiling, or suddenly three days before Thanksgiving the oven quits on you. You experience distress but you recover because you know these are problems that can be fixed and life will go on.

But on another day you come home to discover the main floor of your house slants at a frightening angle, doors hang limp on their hinges, and the basement is filling with water from broken pipes. The whole foundation of the house has shifted.

The psalmist, David, knew that life brings lesser and greater crises. On the one hand, setbacks come to all and they may be annoying, costly to fix, even distressing, but in due course all will be well.

But, there are situations that rumble like an earthquake, shaking the very foundations of life. One’s name may be maligned at great personal cost, integrity may be questioned, employment threatened, a friendship shattered and one sees no way to safe footing. Life seems suddenly beyond repair, and headed toward collapse.

The psalmist, David, had the latter experiences that shook his foundations. He was made a fugitive in the wilderness for long periods by King Saul’s murderous rages. His son, Absalom, nearly succeeded in wresting the kingdom from his rule and driving him away as an outcast. This to David was a shock of near tectonic proportions

In such crises, David could have thrown up his hands in despair, saying, “I quit.” In fact, in Psalm 11 some timid counselor appears to have offered that very solution: “When the foundations are being destroyed,” the counselor suggests, “what can the righteous do?” It’s the counsel of hopelessness; there’s no out.

David rebuked such a hand-wringing solution outright.
He declares his stand in the first words of the psalm: “In the Lord I take refuge.” Everything following flows from that. So the rebuke he delivers to this cringing counselor is clear:

How then can you say to me:
Flee like a bird to your mountain,
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
They set their arrows against the strings
To shoot from the shadows
At the upright in heart.”

In brief, David replies: Shame on you! Yet his own answer to the question, “What can the righteous do?” is not spoken with bravado or bombast. Instead, you will see from the psalm that David has a more humble, faith-based answer. First, he says,

God is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne” (Psalm 11:4).

In other words, God reigns! In this world one’s foundations may seem to be shaken but the house built on faith will not collapse because God is sovereign over all.

He goes on:

He observes the sons of men;
he examines the righteous
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates” (Psalm 11:5).

In other words, God sees to the finest detail what’s really going on when one of his own is under evil attack; he is on the side of the righteous even though he may not give instant deliverance. The implication? Move up close to him. Hold on.

Then comes David’s summary assurance:

For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men (and women) will see his face” (Psalm 11:6).

In the case of the believer today whose foundations are being shaken, this promise may not be satisfied immediately. Think of the pastors in Vietnam who are held in prison for their faith, or of believers driven from their demolished homes in Iraq.

Yet in all of these scenarios, God’s promise will be fulfilled for people of faith. Whether sooner or later God’s faithfulness will be revealed.

In the closing words of the psalm the believer is promised “to see God’s face.” This means in Hebrew thought that the true believer will have intimate communion with God and will sense his approval and his ultimate protection, even as for a time the foundations continue to shudder and rumble.

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Photo credit: Thomas Quine (via flickr.com)

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3 thoughts on “When Life Seems About to Crumble – Psalm 11

  1. Thank you, Bishop Don, for another thoughtful and encouraging article. Your intellect is so obvious and your sincerity is clear. Very few can communicate with the concise, interesting, and inspiring words that you produce weekly. You are equally adept with the spoken word.

    I hope Kay is finding relief from her pain, and that you both are doing well. We miss you both!

    Jane Acton

  2. Directing us to Psalm 11, with it’s message that we are under God’s protection no matter how grave things may seem , this week’s blog reminds us God is with us.We can be sure of Him.

    Setbacks are a feature of human life. We all face them . Some setbacks are minor. In normal circumstances, with determination and resolve, we are able to put things right.

    However, some setbacks can be so great and come so suddenly, they seem catastrophic. They can test us to the limit. We wonder how on earth we can ever put things right.

    Christians have a special resource in times of adversity. As well as connection with God through prayer and the indwelling Holy Spirit,we have scripture.

    The Bible offers words of comfort and advice for every human life situation.The Bible is God’s Word and the Creator of all life knows intimately, every life problem that we can face .

    In the books of Samuel we read the history of David and his Kingship.

    In Samuel, King Saul fears David desires to take the kingdom from him.Fearful and enraged, he plots David’s death. But Saul’s son Jonathan, who loves David, warns him and David flees, becoming an exile.

    David’s situation is desperate, catastrophic.
    Things seem hopeless.But David does have hope,though those around him tell him things are hopeless and he should give up.He finds hope in the Lord, through his sure faith. He doesn’t give up or lose heart.

    ‘’ In the LORD I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain’’ Psalm 11:1 New American Standard Bible

    Told things he may as well give up,David trusts in God.His steadfast faith gives him quiet confidence,not in his own power ,but in the Lord.

    Those who love God and fear God , who acclaim God Father of all and Lord of all, who rely on God and put their trust in Him are safe.They are His.They are in an intimate relationship with God and God looks after His own.

    God , Maker of all, knows His creation intimately ,knows each of us perfectly ,even to each hair of our head.

    In times of crisis the Lord has us covered.
    Though we may not see it ,we can be sure He holds us safely in the palm of His Hand. We can trust to Him by faith.

    God is with His faithful.Just as He was with David in his time of crisis.

    In the end, Saul was defeated and David was anointed King of Judah,then finally King over all Israel ,conquering Jerusalem and making it Israel’s capital.David’s crown pased down to his son Solomon ,and the rest is history.

    Just as the Lord was with David ,God is here with us ,protecting us in every crisis we face.God is with us.Here now with us.God is always here with us.

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