What Can the Righteous Do?
Have you ever felt like everything was falling apart around you? Have you ever looked at your circumstances and felt helpless? Do you look at the future and think, when is the next tragedy going to strike? Perhaps you are experiencing these thoughts and emotions right now.
Psalm 11 provides us with some wonderful direction for every situation and relationship we face in life.
David's Refuge and Rest
David begins the Psalm with the following resolution: “In the Lord put I my trust”. He doesn’t begin with a list of his problems. Or worries. Or frustrations. He begins with this decision; I have placed my confidence in the Lord. David chooses to take refuge and find rest in his relationship with God. Everyone places their faith in something. Where are you placing yours?
He then turns to his advisers and discusses their situation. They have counselled David to flee to the mountain like a bird to escape the danger he is in (v1). The wicked have prepared to attack him because he is upright in heart (v2). Furthermore, as David’s counsellors look around at their society they wonder, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v3). Do we not often ask this question ourselves? As we look around we can see an assault on biblical principles and institutions. It seems impossible to stem the tide. We feel hopeless. The objective truth of God’s Word, what is good?, what is evil?, what is just?, what is truth? has been undermined by secular postmodernism. People cry out for justice, yet they declare that there is no objective moral truth. As Christians we watch all of this unfold and in exasperation cry out, “What can the righteous do?”
David's King and Saviour
David provides the answer immediately. “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven” (v4). Wow! We are given a picture of worship and authority. Through Christ, we can enter the Father's presence with confidence in daily worship and there find grace, mercy, and help (Hebrews 4:14-16). Christian, where are you turning for help, hope, and strength? Are you talking to God about all that is happening around you? Are you reading His Word? Are you worshipping Him and resting in Him? Are you asking Him for grace and strength to endure whatever trials come?
We are then given this powerful reminder; the King is watching and testing mankind (v4). He tries the righteous and righteously judges the wicked (v5-6). Upon reading this phrase, we must pause to consider the gospel! Jesus came and lived the perfectly righteous life that none of us can achieve. As He faced His impending crucifixion, Jesus prayed in the garden, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus, being fully God and fully human, drank the cup of God’s wrath toward wickedness. Jesus suffered the horrors of sin and the punishment that we deserve. This is why all people are called to repent and believe the gospel! Turn from sin and trust in Jesus. The believer will not drink the “portion of their cup” for Christ has taken their portion in their place. Praise God!
David's God and Help
David concludes this powerful Psalm by telling us that the Lord is righteous, loves righteousness, and beholds the upright (v. 7). The word David uses for countenance or face is referring to God’s presence. So essentially this verse is saying that God is always good, righteous, and just; therefore, as His people worship Him they will have the strength of His presence as they walk righteously. We cannot endure the testing in our own strength. We desperately need God’s grace in order to live faithfully. David explores this thought further when he writes, “As for me, I will behold Your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)
As Christians living during these turbulent days, we must ask God for help to apply this Psalm in our present circumstances. Turn off the telly for a bit. Take a break from social media. God is in His Holy Temple, He is seated on His throne, He is beholding the evil and the good. He is testing His people to see their response. He will punish the wicked. His presence is available to His people. Are you resting in Christ? Are you praying? Are you filling your mind with God’s Word? Are you encouraging others to run to Christ?
1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
Josh Pastors at Carrick Baptist Church in the west of Ireland. Josh grew up in a Christian home in Maryland, USA and placed his faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 10. He graduated with a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural Studies from Maranatha Baptist Seminary in Wisconsin (2013). Josh and his wife Annie and their young son moved to Ireland in January 2016. They now have two more children and they continue to reach out as a family continue to reach out to their community of Carrick-on-Shannon.