When Enemies Threaten

Psalm 11, evil, wickedness, threatenThere seems to be a pervasive sense of unease and insecurity in our land.  It is true that we are threatened by evil men who want to do the world harm and to to destroy our country but we need not fear or spend our time being worried and anxious.  Evil men and those who threaten the righteous are not a new occurrence and good people have had to stand up to bullies (with God’s help) for all of recorded history.

In King David’s time, he and his people were similarly threatened and it is useful and instructive to look at the prayer that David offered to God in Psalms 11 as a model response to threat.

In the Lord I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain;
 For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”  Psalm 11:1-3 (NASB)

In the first three verses, David asks a couple of questions and makes an observation about the situation that he and his people are in.  At first we get the sense that David is responding to those who have already given up hope and who are running for the hills.  David says, (paraphrasing) “How can you ask me to give in to despair when I have chosen to trust in God’s plan and find my refuge in him?” and that is a good reminder for us as well.  There might be a time when we need to physically retreat from a situation that is dangerous or unfeasible but that doesn’t mean we do so because we have given up hope or have forgotten about God’s provision for us.

David goes on to acknowledge that his enemies were getting ready to make war (they make ready their arrow upon the string) but then asks the question that we must all ask and answer: “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

These “foundations” refer to places of security and can mean the very fabric of society.  In other words, if my people, my country and my way of life are removed from me, what is my response?

The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
 Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
 For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.  Psalm 11:4-7 (NASB)

For David, his response was to look to God and to assure himself and those around him of who God is and what the fate of evil would ultimately be.  God sees and knows all that is in the hearts of men and regardless of how present circumstances might look the one who afflicts the righteous and practices evil will receive their due.  God is righteous and loves those who practice righteousness and his promise to them is that they will see His face.

Seeing the face of God implies being held close by Him such that we both feel his presence in the here and now but will also, one day, see him face to face with all barriers removed.  We are assured of God’s presence and protection and need not fear evil men or their schemes.  Continue to trust in the Lord, no matter what happens, and remember to praise Him at all times and in all seasons of life because He is worthy.

 

Where Do Bad Ideas Come From?

Evil, Choice, IsaiahAs I was heading out to get lunch one day this week I had an unusual thought pop in to my mind.  I was thinking about the movie “Amazing Grace” and the whole topic of human slavery (the movie’s central theme is the abolition of slavery in England) and I had to ask “where does such a horrible idea come from?”  Who first came up with the idea of treating human beings as objects to be used and abused for free labor or worse?  What makes one person completely strip the humanity from an entire people group and then decide to forcibly remove them from their home so that they can be used as slaves on a different continent?

The easy answer would be to say that humans come up with bad ideas all on our own.  We’ve been practicing slavery in one way or another since the beginning of recorded history and it’s still going on today in some parts of the world.  And of course as horrible as slavery is it is by no means the only bad idea that we’ve come up with.  Our history books are littered with people who had bad ideas and the terrible fallout that came after beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

But even that wasn’t the original bad idea.  The original bad idea came from the place where bad ideas still come from today.  The original bad idea came from Lucifer who wanted to set himself up higher than God.  Before mankind existed Lucifer decided that his way was better than God’s way and rebellion entered his heart.  His fall his recorded in Isaiah 14:12-14

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’

His “I will” statements are a case study in how bad ideas are formed.  Anytime you or I or any created thing decides in our heart to act outside of God’s law and God’s way, evil occurs.  The beginning of evil is Lucifer himself who was the original rebel against God.  All rebellion against God since that time can be traced back to his influence including man’s fall in the Garden where he played the part of the serpent who tempted Eve.

The application is this:  Lucifer is still plotting and whispering bad ideas to anyone who will listen and with our rebellious nature he has found willing participants for his schemes.  But, as we discovered last week we have the power to choose to do good and not evil.  God has given us everything that we require if we will only put it to use.  He has given us new life through His son Jesus Christ and He has put His Spirit in us as a guide and teacher.  He has also given us His instruction book in the form of the Bible as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ who comfort us and share in our journey.

Next week we will examine more closely the tools that God has given us to overcome evil and to choose the right path in every situation.  Until then, may God bless your faithfulness.