If the foundations are destroyed … (Psalm 11:3)


There are times when, confronted with news of antichristian hate and oppression, we are greatly dismayed and inclined to echo the despair David’s friends cried: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm  11).

We’ve read of terrible things happening to Christians in the Middle East, Africa, North Korea, China and elsewhere. And perhaps we think: in a way it’s understandable; those countries never had a Christian foundation, a just and orderly way of life based love and truth, justice and morality derived from the Word of God; or if they once had it, they lost it long ago.

But increasingly we are seeing here in our western society, with its roots firmly established in a Christian heritage, the moral foundations of society being destroyed. Just within the last couple of weeks we’ve read of a woman in the USA being jailed for refusing to provide a marriage certificate to a homosexual couple, a clergyman in Hobart being sued for distributing a booklet which said that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, and a representative of a US antiabortion prolife group denied permission to enter Australia for a tour of speeches and treated like a dangerous criminal as if he posed a threat to Australia.

To be sure, since the fall into sin there has been a spiritual war going on and history shows that, when Satan can’t get his way by subtle means, he uses violence. Today he attempts to destroy the vestiges of Christianity in society and has many militant allies. They stimulate our western secular society to leave the ways of the Lord and oppress those who dare to oppose those who revolt against the law of the Lord and promote increasing lawlessness in society.

Seemingly insurmountable odds face those who wish to remain upright. It almost seems that the Christian cause is a lost cause, and we seem powerless to withstand the tide of evil. Shall we despair, like David’s friends, and cry: “If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?”

David, the author of Psalm 11, was hounded by King Saul and his men. Death seemed inevitable. His friends advised: Flee like a bird to the mountains. The wicked lie hidden and armed in the shadows; they have the righteous in their sights, ready to shoot them. What can the righteous do if the foundations of society have been destroyed?

David’s answer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, encourages us. He replies: Don’t say that. Don’t despair. David doesn’t deny that the foundations have been destroyed; doesn’t deny that danger lurks all around and that his enemies are out to put an end to the righteous.

But his answer in Psalm 11 is to trust in God. “5The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s 6throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids 7test the children of man. The LORD 8tests the righteous, but 9his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”

Matthew Henry explains it this way:

The believer, though not terrified by his enemies, may be tempted, by the fears of his friends, to desert his post, or neglect his work. They perceive his danger, but not his security; they give him counsel that savours of worldly policy, rather than of heavenly wisdom. The principles of religion are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. We are concerned to hold these fast against all temptations to unbelief; for believers would be undone, if they had not God to go to, God to trust in, and future bliss to hope for.

The Lord is on the side of those who love Him but He hates those who act violently. He will punish the wicked, “10fire and sulphur and a scorching wind shall be 11the portion of their cup.” As for the righteous, let them continue to do righteous deeds and put their trust in Him. “For the LORD is righteous; he 12loves righteous deeds; 13the upright shall behold his face.”

I conclude with the comment of Matthew Henry:

God governs the world. We may know what men seem to be, but God knows what they are, as the refiner knows the value of gold when he has tried it. God is said to try with his eyes, because he cannot err, or be imposed upon. If he afflicts good people, it is for their trial, therefore for their good. However persecutors and oppressors may prosper awhile, they will for ever perish. God is a holy God, and therefore hates them. He is a righteous Judge, and will therefore punish them. In what a horrible tempest are the wicked hurried away at death! Every man has the portion of his cup assigned him. Impenitent sinner, mark your doom! The last call to repentance is about to be addressed to you, judgement is at hand; through the gloomy shade of death you pass into the region of eternal wrath. Hasten then, O sinner, to the cross of Christ. How stands the case between God and our souls? Is Christ our hope, our consolation, our security? Then, not otherwise, will the soul be carried through all its difficulties and conflicts.