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Responses to Crumbling Foundations

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series

"Musing on God's Music"

Read more posts by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

When the foundations of society appear to be crumbling around us, what should the righteous do? Psalm 11 answers that question.

But before we look at how the psalm answers that question correctly, notice the wrong answer to the question. Did you notice the quotation marks after “what can the righteous do?” David is quoting someone else here. Where does the quote begin? Look at the end of verse 1. David is speaking, and he says, “How can you say to my soul…” and now the quote begins. And here is the first answer that is given to the question, “What can the righteous do?”: What can you do? “Flee like a bird to your mountain.” This is the advice being given to David. The foundations are crumbling, the wicked are shooting in the dark at the upright in heart, so flee! Escape! Run away! Just get together and sing happy songs and pretend none of it is happening.

But that’s the wrong response. And that’s what we see in the Psalms—these songs don’t ignore the reality of crumbling foundations and wicked people, these songs acknowledge that reality but then lead us to respond in proper ways in the midst of that reality.

So what is the proper response, then?

Take Refuge in the Lord

Well, David presents three proper responses in this psalm, and the first one is right in the first phrase of the psalm: “In the Lord I take refuge.”

When God seems far away, and the foundations of righteousness are crumbling, and the faithful have vanished, and there is none righteous, no not one, the correct response is this: In the Lord I take refuge.

The Lord is in his holy temple

And then David gives a second response in verse 4:

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

 When you look around and the foundations of society seem to be crumbling, and you know that this is going to lead toward chaos in the society, the correct response is this: “The Lord is in his holy temple.” The thrones of men may be crumbling, but God is still on his throne.

The Lord has determined the destiny of the wicked and the righteous.

And then look at David’s third response, beginning in verse 5:

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

When you look around, and it looks like the wicked are prospering—we already looked a couple weeks ago at psalm 10:5 where it says, “His ways—the wicked person’s ways—prosper at all times.” Psalm 12:8 says that “vileness is exalted among the children of man.” Psalm 13 describes the enemies of God exalting over his people. When you look around and there is nothing but corruption around you, the correct response is this: The destiny of the wicked is certain: fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

And when you look around, and it looks like the righteous are being destroyed—Psalm 10:10 says, “The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by the might of the wicked.” Psalm 12 says that the poor are plundered. Psalm 13 expresses the fact that for the righteous, it seems like God is absent. Listen to how Psalm 14:4 describes it: “The evildoers eat up my people as they eat bread.” You ever feel that way? The correct response is this: The Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. The destiny of the righteous is certain.

Three correct responses of God’s people when the foundations of righteousness around them are crumbling:

In the Lord I take refuge.
The Lord is in his holy temple.
The Lord has determined the destiny of the wicked and the righteous.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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