Open your Bibles to Psalm 11. Today is our second to last Sunday in our sermon series named the Summer of Psalms. It is interesting to note that after next Sunday we will have only covered eight percent of the Psalms. In light of all that we have learned about who God is and who we are, one would think we would have covered way more than only eight percent. However, I believe this perceived disparity speaks to the depth of this book. The book of Psalms is a very deep well of the knowledge of God. No devotional book, or hymnal holds a candle to the truth that is contained in these 150 Psalms. I hope that all of you have recognized this over the last 3 months and make it a point to read the book of Psalms every year for the rest of your life. As we read at the beginning of our series in Psalm 1 our delight should be in God’s Word, and our meditation on it should be daily. This will lead to the producing of fruit in our lives that spiritually prospers us in the midst of a fallen world.
With that said, let us continue to pursue the fruit the comes from soaking in God’s Word by reading Psalm 11 together, pray, and then dwell upon its application in our lives.
- Psalm 11 – “To the choirmaster. Of David. 1In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
David, our Psalmist, begins by saying in verse 1, “In the Lord I take refuge.” This statement by David is a declaration of trust. David is asserting that the Lord is his stronghold, that the Lord is his protector. David is claiming that his confidence is in God.
In this day and age it would not be uncommon for you to see this verse, or something like it, posted on Facebook. Most likely it would be in the form of some type of pretty picture with perhaps a mountain in the background and some attractive model down on his or her knees with Psalm 11:1 written in cursive. We are all quick to proclaim that we trust in God.
In fact that is what it means to be a Christian, trusting in the promises of God that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Many times, instead of saying trust, we use the word faith, or believe. The definition of a Christian is one who has faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The Bible is abundantly clear about the means by which we are saved.
- Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Romans 10:9 – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- Galatians 2:16 – “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
- Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- Philippians 3:9 – “found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“
- John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
But Do You Really Believe?
In light of that, most Christians, if asked if they believe in Jesus, they would answer with a resounding yes. They would claim a faith in Jesus because they know that the Bible is clear that the only way to receive forgiveness for our sins and eternal life is by saying yes. But here is the question, do they really believe? Sure you can claim Christ as your refuge, but is he really your refuge? Or are those just words.
This was the issue in the book of James. The author James was sick and tired of people going around claiming they believed in Jesus, but seeing no legitimate transformation in their life. No consistency with their mouth and their actions.
- James 2:18 – “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
Do You Pass the Test?
In Psalm 11 David declared that God was his refuge. In order to see if that was really true, we see in verse 4 and 5 a testing of that self-proclaimed trust in God.
- Psalm 11:4-5 – “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5The LORD tests the righteous,”
- Psalm 139:1-2 – “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”
- 1 John 3:20 – “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
David, however, was not the only one in the Bible who was tested. Two familiar stories of testing are Abraham and Job. Abraham was tested by God when he was asked to sacrifice his son.
- Genesis 22:1-2 – “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
- Job 23:10 – “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
- Psalm 11:2 – “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;”
With this said, we must be careful, for the testing of God through the wickedness of man must be understood rightly. We must recognize that God through these testing keeps his hands clean. God is not bending the bow against David, it is the wicked. However, he is allowing it.
Once again, I think Job is very helpful in understanding how this works. If you recall, it was God who brought Job to Satan's attention, but it was Satan who begged to destroy him. It was only after God's permission that Satan could take one step towards Job. Peter is another example of this in Luke 22:31, when Jesus informs Peter that Satan has demanded to sift him like wheat. Satan new his place, and he knew he could not act against Peter without God's permission, so it was God's will, but his hands were clean.
The same is true with David in Psalm 11. The wicked were the ones who longed to destroy David, but it is only after God's permission that they could pull back there bow. Why was this permission granted, to test David.
And the same is true for us. Our testing is done at the will of God, but the instruments for the testing are the wicked and the temptation comes from our sinfulness. Even though God is allowing it, his hands are clean.
- James 1:13 - “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
This is one of the mysteries of the sovereignty of God. God is in control of everything, including the sins of man, but through it all, he remains good, and man is fully accountable for his actions. It is as if the wicked are merely pawns in the game of God. Even their rebellion God can use for his purposes.
And the purposes of God, include the testing of his children. Every single person who claims to be a Christian will be tested. The life of following Christ is one of trials, and tribulation. It is not one of comfort, wealth, and worldly prosperity. This is one reason I can't stand prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, he does not preach the Bible, he preaches a false Gospel. The truth is that the walk of a Christian is hard, not easy. As we saw in Matthew 8 in Sunday School today, we must count the cost before following Jesus. Being a Christian involves a life of testing to see if our faith is real.
- 1 Peter 4:12 - “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
We Shall See His Face
For those who fail the test, and abandon Christ and flee to the mountains of this world like a weak little bird, their portion will be that of the wicked: coals, fire, sulfur and scorching wind. But for those who stand and fight, who lift of the shield of their faith and extinguish the fiery arrows of Satan, our reward will be that we will see God. Those who are upright at the end of the war will stand face to face with God. These words are the words of David, but they are also the words of Jesus.
- Matthew 5:10 - “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- 1 Peter 1:6-9 - “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.