Saturday, August 29, 2015

Trusting the LORD to Find True Security: Learning to Pray Psalm 11

 In the Lord I take refuge.
    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.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
    his eyes examine them.
The Lord examines the righteous,
    but the wicked, those who love violence,
    he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
    fiery coals and burning sulfur;
    a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face. (NIV)

Psalm 11 is a song of trust. It reminds God’s people of the true source of their security. This is a crucial word for us today. It is easy for us to misplace our security. Too often we rely on our owns strengths and resources. This may involve our wealth, our relationships, our network, our possessions, our intellect, or our talents. Psalm 11 assumes that the challenges facing God’s people are more than our own assets can overcome.

Psalm 11 divides into two parts. Verses 1–3 describes the challenges facing the faithful in the world as it exists today. Verses 4–7 proclaim a security that transcends the dangers of the present. It affirms the deep relationship between the LORD and the people of God.

Verse 1a opens with the psalmist declaring full trust in the LORD. It is in the LORD alone that the psalmist finds refuge. This is the grounding for the psalmist’s life. The psalmist can face the challenges and even dangers of the present because of the LORD.

Verses 1b–3 contain the problem that the psalmist’s trust and faithfulness answers. The psalmist addresses the real concern of the community. How can the righteous find security when people with wicked or evil intent threaten their lives and families? This is no mere hypothetical question for many believers around the world today. A life of faith and mission can be risky. The psalmist’s community ponders the need to flee from the dangers of the world by heading to the mountains. What are the people of God to do when it seems as if all of their assumptions and practices of how to live seem to crumble?

The psalmist knows the answer to his implied question. Security is found in the LORD. Verse 4 grounds this is the dynamic truth of the LORD’s presence in our world and transcendence over all Creation. As Christians, we can find comfort and peace in the reality that God is present with us in the now of our lives yet simultaneously able to rule with a view from all eternity.

On basis of this truth, the psalmist sketches out the implications for our lives. As we’ve seen in other psalms, there are two groups of people: the righteous and the wicked. The psalmist assumes that he is among the righteous. Whenever we find these divisions in Scripture, it is crucial for us to recognize that it is the LORD who makes these categories and it is the LORD who makes these judgments. As we read vv. 5–6, the righteous are not to rejoice at the downfall of the wicked. The backdrop of the psalm is that the righteous are suffering affliction and hardship. Vv. 5–6 describe the reversal that will ultimately occur if those who prefer and practice injustice and violence do not turn from their ways to abide in the LORD. Verse 7 reminds God’s people of their hope-filled future. The takeaway is that God’s people must stay on course in the present and model God’s holy character with the assurance that this is the right way to make it through the world.

What practices do you keep that ground you in God?

What kind of person does this psalm invite you to become to be able to live with integrity as one of the righteous?

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