Some think this Psalm (to be played and sung under the guidance of the chief Temple musician) was written after Saul attempted many times to kill David, or to get him to flee Israel. But he refused. (Once he did fail and almost got himself killed by the Philistines). David might have fleetingly considered it, but quickly quells the idea.
We all sometimes feel overwhelmed by situations, and think of avoiding them by one of many means. We even avoid talking to God, because we fear He will pull us back to reality, to talk with Him! We struggle because we WANT to feel insecure, or miserable, or attacked, because then we feel justified in hitting out or attacking back. David frees himself of these wayward thoughts, to his benefit. So should we.
In the LORD put I my trust: How say ye to my soul, 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?
Every Christian should begin their pleas and thoughts with this admission: “In the LORD put I my trust”! It should be our first thought in the morning and the last one before we sleep, no matter what the situation is. The LORD, Jehovah, is ‘the existing One’, uncreated and ‘Other’. He is the King of kings, yet we muddle through our miserable lives in our own strength that turns out to be total weakness! We do not trust He Who is Almighty, and show it in our foolish acts and beliefs. Our minds are overtaken by human thoughts and behaviour from the pit. Often, we want to ‘do’ something dramatic, or explode! Do we put our trust in God? No, we do not, most of the time… and so our lives slide backwards instead of fly upwards.
To put our trust in God means to see Him as our refuge, our protection. Few look to God when bad situations arise (whether in our minds or in reality). Instead, we attempt to do things our own way, even though we KNOW it will fail. Why? Because we are sinners and watch the situation instead of God. We are saved by grace but stumble along stupidly, like dumb oxen. The answers of God are there before us, but we choose instead to stumble and fall! When we dwell on our sin and not on God, this will be a constant in our lives. We WILL fail and we WILL suffer. Ignore God and you will enjoy your sin, not God’s help.
David is looking at a situation, and muses about dealing with it in his own way. Even a man like David, who knew the close relationship of God in his earthly rule, sometimes fell to this kind of foolishness. He knows with all his heart that he must speak with God and not cave-in to the obvious earthly reactions that crowd the mind. Today, the equivalent would be to sink into neuroses, because a sinful society rewards ignoring of responsibility with ‘treatment’ and sympathy.
On this text Matthew Henry thinks David is angry with his foolish recourse to earthly means. ‘Why do you say fly away to the mountains, like a bird?’ he asks himself. He asks this question because he has already been anointed by God to be king, so should stand firm! Yet, when he is hard-pressed by events and enemies, he briefly thinks of giving in to misery, just to avoid the hurt. But, misery has its own hurt!
We naturally want an end to things that hurt us – but if all we do is escape, we will never know the deep soul-help given by God when we hang on and do His bidding. Those Christians who give in usually prefer the answers given by men – medical ‘coshes’ to numb our minds, hospital ‘treatments’, and casting away our responsibilities, or even blazing rows. This always leads to a Satanic hold on our hearts, so we will never again know the fresh air and aid of the Spirit in our lives. Joy departs and we sink like stones within our own sinfulness, fuelled by misery.
David is more manly than that! He sometimes sinks just a little, but then he throws off the sin of self-pity and again follows the Lord and His ways. Do we do that? Most of us will sink lower, because, frankly, it is easier to give in than to stand and face the problems afflicting us, in a proper holy manner. In spiritual terms, the majority of Christians leave the business of accruing knowledge and experience to their pastors! They sit back in their pews and wait for the end of the ‘service’ feeling they have done what is required.
In reality they have done nothing and their attendance at a sermon is useless. It is rarely internalised and rarely used in life; it is but a token, a kind of talisman against ill, to sit there without really listening or acting as God requires. This is because the heart wants only rest without exercise, without spiritual responsibility. This accounts for the appalling ignorance in our churches today, and the lack of interest in spiritual things (except for the gaudy and the man-made, evidenced in charismatic frolics).
David says what is patently true in all ages: “the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.”
The ‘wicked’ are the rasha’, those who are both criminal and wicked. (To God both are the same, for their wickedness is criminality against His person). Wicked people are hostile to God and therefore to His people, and they are always guilty of sin, because they are unrepentant and unsaved.
Today, we are surrounded by the wicked… in our own families, friends, next door, in government, on councils, and even in churches. They do not use bows and arrows today, but guns, prison, law, hatred… each equally vile, a sign of their relationship to Satan. They are always ready to ‘do us down’, and will work ‘privily’ (and nowadays openly) to harm us. That is, in their own dark corners devoid of spiritual light.
Some know of my sudden demise in my workplace in 2005. But, I later learned that it was not so sudden – homosexual ‘colleagues’ had been feverishly working towards my removal for at least two years! They worked behind my back, whilst smiling to my face and accepting my help in many things. They invented lies and searched hard for ‘legal’ ways to harm me. When it finally came together, my crash was swift! All because I refused to back down to homosexual propaganda. The main point is that they appeared to be ‘nice’ and friendly, whilst ‘bending the bow’ to get rid of me.
This kind of thing is not just about evil homosexuals; it is about anyone who is unsaved and who wants us out of the way. Unsaved men and women do not want the godly answer to anything – they just want symptomatic relief and compliance with their sins. Sadly, so do many Christians. Anyone who stands in their way will be targeted and attacked. And this is what David is talking about. His enemies were many, and even included his own family in his later years.
Do not expect unbelievers to remain friendly with you… if you start to speak of God, unless such talk is prompted by Him, you will start to be hated by your unsaved ‘friends’. When God does prompt you, it can either be to highlight your friends’ dark hearts that refuse to acknowledge Him, or so that they will hear the word that culminates in their regeneration and salvation. But, make no mistake: unsaved people are your spiritual enemies, and many are more than willing to bring you down by any means possible. They really do want to “shoot at the upright in heart”!
This, of course, begs the question: why should a Christian who is living righteously WANT unsaved friends? The unsaved are a constant source of deception, lies, godlessness and potential threat. So, what is the attraction? Many have these unsaved friends (I do not just mean loose acquaintances) because they say they would otherwise be lonely. This is not a proper excuse, for the unsaved are not our spiritual equals; they are doomed by a God who does not accept them… so what are we doing accepting those whom God casts off? If human loneliness because of our salvation is to be our condition, then so be it! Better that than spiritual demise.
There is an element of pathos in a person hankering after unsaved human friendship (which is not really a friendship, because there is only a friendly response if we comply with whatever the unsaved person wants and believes). It shows a very weak spiritual understanding and soul. There are others who maintain unfruitful friendships with people who are ‘religious’, but who constantly question their beliefs. Not to learn, but only to accuse and to criticise. They are just as wicked as those who are obviously unsaved and should not be part of your circle.
When we cast away these unfruitful ‘friends’ God will come to us with real friends, sometimes at a distance. (If we continue to ignore God’s demand to stay apart, such true friends may never appear, as a judgment on our infidelity). We are to learn from our isolation, to stand firm, and to be true to the Lord. Hanging on to unsaved friends is only a way of showing up our spiritual problems and our sinful need for sinners as friends… who will privately seek your downfall if you cross them! Do not think I am just being ‘dramatic’… I have known all kinds of attacks, from family to friends to others, and God warns us to expect them.
David then asks a leading question: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” You might think this refers to the foundations of the faith, but this is not the meaning. The shathah are the mainstays of our everyday spiritual life: the ‘pillars’ of society, princes and nobles; those whose purpose should be to protect and promote godliness, as is found in the root, shiyth…to take a stand, to fix.
Today, most of our spiritual guides and civil ’leaders’ are defunct, set adrift from godly moorings and deflecting people from the one true God. Even pastors known to be ‘good’ can be part of this deadly devilish conspiracy, in their own way teaching tradition rather than God’s word alone, and listening to their ministers’ fraternals rather than to truth and the godly ones in their midst.
So, David asks: ‘If spiritual guides are destroyed – what then? What do those who are righteous do?’ He is pointing towards himself, for he was the king, or at least was about to become one. Saul was the king but becoming more ungodly by the moment. His downfall was also the downfall of the nation.
We see this in modern life: political leaders and rulers chosen by God to lead, but defying and denying Almighty God and His laws, thereby misleading the nation into the pit from hell. They are destroyed, along with the supposed spiritual leaders who are ungodly, and so the whole nation is set adrift. This is the position in the West today. And this is why we must take back the ‘high-ground’ with truth and personal lives solely devoted to God. We must rebuild the foundations, demanding holy men to take the lead and to stand firm as new shathah. The West is akin to a ruined city, torn down by Satan. At least if the foundations are in ruins we can start again!
The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
Though spiritual ones are destitute, God is still in His “holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven” He remains, powerful, holy, mighty, righteous, regardless of what futile men do to His word and earthly church. We therefore have hope, and an aim. He is the general on the battlefield, standard flying high. If we are by His side we will also be strong. But, if we stay attached to failures, we will also fail.
This time, this world, this universe, are doomed to destruction at the end of the age. God will burn it up to a crisp and then to nothing. He sees us and “his eyelids try the children of men.” He looks and tests us. His gaze is like a laser, cutting through all our silly defences and excuses. He demands holiness no matter what happens to us; what we want is irrelevant. He demands righteousness from us all; our petty lives and personal whims do not alter His commands or demands! It is only when we adhere to Him like glue that we come to see our folly and our need to be closer to Him than a brother! Only then will we see God answering our pleas.
Many Christians think they are alright, because they are saved. Not so! “The LORD trieth the righteous” That is, He tests us. The reason is that He wants us to know the pressure of His word and demands, so that we rise up in triumph to comply. He does not test us to make us fail – we do that on our own! He tests us, so that we get rid of our failures and go on to become pure gold. We become stronger, not weaker, when we get through God’s tests and trials. Those who are tested and give in will know misery and will become weaker. And many do.
Consider it an honour to be tested by God, even if the trial seems awful or protracted! He is looking at you directly, and is showing His concern for you. He is not trying to destroy you, but to make you His special child, strong and able to stand at times of adversity. You can either work through the test or become a spiritual neurotic, ever failing and ever bemoaning your lot in life.
God will, then, try you if you are saved by grace. But, those who are unsaved and oppose Him will be destroyed; “the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” Here we see that term so avoided by modern Christians – that God actually hates people! He hates them with the very core of His being, called here His ‘soul’. The word “hateth”, sane’, means exactly what it says. God hates those who are wicked and who love to be violent. As scripture says, if we are not for Him, then we are against Him. Oh to see our unsaved ‘friends’ as God sees them, as unsaved and His enemies, hated and ready for hell. Do not try to cover-up this hatred God has for the unsaved who are not elect.
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
Do not hide God’s hatred for the unsaved who oppose Him; He tells us that He shall “rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup.” God will not just show dismay against them, or disapproval: He takes active steps to destroy them with everything He has got, coming from His very soul! They will be caught in their own snares, though they think all is well in their lives.
Look beyond their nicety and success; see them as God sees them and you will hopefully not get into their lifestyles and ways of thinking and acting. Their destruction is “the portion of their cup”. That phrase shows us that God has ordained this to be so – their destruction is what He has already determined to happen. Do not become a part of that judgment.
Conversely, God loves those who are righteous. Christians who continually sin are walking a very thin tightrope, and can fall at any time. God can shake their tightrope, so that they fall and suffer the consequences. If you are on that tightrope, get off it straight away, before God brings His wrath upon you. And He will, if you disregard warnings. He loves righteousness and those who are righteous. This love, ‘ahab, is reserved for His friends. Are you His friend? Or, are you a fake, to God and to yourself, deceiving both with holy words but without holy intent?
“His countenance doth uphold the upright.” Just as God created everything by His word, so He supports and nourishes us with His countenance – His face. When He looks upon us approvingly, He gives us His benefits and grace. He shows mercy and not punishment. Our lives thrive and do not dwindle and fail. It depends on our faithfulness to God. He WILL show us favour if we obey Him.
This Psalm is not condemnatory to those who love God. Rather, it urges us to be righteous, so that we may enjoy His presence and love, which He literally pours down on us in abundance. Only our own sin prevents such abundance.
© November 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Please 'Make a Donation' to support the work of Bible Theology Ministries