by Del Tackett
In today’s Psalm 11, we find a verse that I believe has sometimes been misused. Here it is:
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Occasionally, you will hear it quoted to support a cry or plea regarding what is happening in our nation. The purpose is to rally listeners to stand against the forces that seek to destroy our national foundations, which I believe were primarily biblical and wise foundations. And, I agree that it is good to call the Remnant to stand strong against evil forces. That is one of the reasons I wrote the “7 Threats” series.
But is this a misapplication? I believe so and would like to offer an alternative understanding. Let’s look at its context:
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven… Psalm 11:1-4a
The Psalm then goes on to talk about God’s sovereignty, His omniscience, omnipotence and righteousness. It speaks of God’s hatred for the wicked and those who love violence and that He will rain coals upon them and it is they who will be destroyed with fire, brimstone and a tempest. It ends with this:
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
Do you see what God is saying to us through David in this Psalm? This is not a Psalm of “woe is us”. This is a Psalm that is saying, “Look, God is on His throne! He sees all of this. The wicked will be destroyed. Don’t say to my soul ‘flee’ or ‘what can the righteous do if the foundations are destroyed’!
Dear Remnant! We are a people of hope even in the midst of the deepest, darkest storm. We are pilgrims in a strange land where evil often seems to flourish and triumph; where the righteous are often pursued and persecuted. Did not our Lord say this would be the case?
But in the midst of this, we never, ever lose sight of who God is and whose we are, and the true course of God’s larger story. Yes, we will stand for Truth. Yes, we will fight against evil and the forces that seek to destroy God’s design and purposes. But do not get caught up in the enemy’s lie: “You have lost! Give up! Flee! Your foundations are destroyed, what can you do?!”
In the Lord we take refuge. He is on His throne and He dwells within you. Stand strong... even if you are the last man or woman standing.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Soli Deo Gloria!