As a follower of Christ, I find the present state of affairs – in this country, in Canada, in Ukraine, even the whole world – to be very disturbing. The creeping tyranny and political instability everywhere is unsettling. Especially alarming is the increasing hostility of the elites of the world toward godliness, or anyone who holds anything close to a Christian worldview.
This is why I find Psalm 11 so refreshing. It was written by David – probably after he found out that Saul was trying to hunt him down. The psalm is refreshing for two reasons – it sheds light on the source of my present perspective and it offers a better paradigm.
The psalm starts with a declaration – “In the Lord put I my trust.” This is the basic thing every believer needs to do when faced with a creeping soft tyranny. Do this and all will be well with your soul.
But the tyrant is not happy with that statement. He is disturbed by your faith in anyone beside himself. He is unsettled by your lack of fear of him. He is alarmed when you calmly hold to your convictions. So he tries to scare you. Tyranny can only rule through fear – so it speaks to your soul to terrorize your psyche:
“Flee as a bird to your mountain
For lo, the wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string,
That they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
If the foundations be destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”
Psalm 11: 2,3
This is where we are today. People are being cancelled. Peaceful protesters are being trampled by horses and having their bank accounts seized. Good and honest people are losing their jobs and being branded as racist or, if they are a person of color, an Uncle Tom. Worst of all – the foundation of our country – the Constitution, along with its Bill of Rights – is under constant assault. It is brazenly ignored by those in power. When we see these things it is easy to be afraid. After all, if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
But right in the middle of the psalm (verse 4) we see the answer to that fear:
The LORD is in his holy temple,
the LORD’s throne is in heaven:
his eyes behold,
his eyelids try, the children of men.
This is the keystone verse of this psalm. No matter what the tyrants say or do; no matter how powerful they think they are; no matter how much power they think they have – the Lord is still in his holy temple. His throne, His authority, is still in heaven – far, far above theirs and way outside of their reach. He can’t be overthrown, impeached, or cancelled. Best of all, He sees everything that is going on. He is intently watching, testing, and ruling over “the children of men.”
What can the righteous do? They must continue to trust Him as He puts them through this test because that is what this is – a test. He tests the righteous to purify them through fiery trials. It gets hot, but we need to remember that He always controls the heat.
What about those arrows they have made ready on their strings? Verse 5 gives us the answer:
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone,
and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
This is a colorful illustration of the truth that, no matter how unjust the tyranny or how powerful the weapons, it will not succeed in the end. Justice will prevail because the Lord, the Almighty still sits on His throne. Because He sits on His throne He can deal with the throne-sitters down here.
How do we face the creeping tyranny? We begin by trusting, taking our refuge, in the Lord. We continue by not believing the lie that the tyrant can do what he wants without consequences from God. Our trust in Him gives us the boldness to continue to speak and live by the truth and refuse to live by the tyrant’s lies.
Verse seven, the final verse of the psalm, reminds us that the Lord is righteous and He is constantly monitoring our situation. Jesus tells us that He sees the sparrows that fall and keeps a close count on the hairs of our heads. His grace will be sufficient to carry us through the test. Trust Him, make Him your refuge.