Psalms for Psome – 11

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 11 contains a verse that a brother used in discipling me, and in training me in how to approach those that preach beyond the limits of orthodoxy, that is, those who are clearly heretical.

First, though, let us read this psalm.

Psalm 11:1-7

To the choirmaster. Of David. In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
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.

My brother George spent time with me as a young believer and during one of the informal sessions we had, (for they were always informal – he always seemed to have time to discuss the Word and of the Savior), he drew my attention to verse 3.

Psalm 11:3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

At the time, I was not an engineer, but I understood the importance of foundations. A fancy roof is not good if the footings are made of mud. But if the foundations are strong, any roof will do, any color, any shape, any pitch, any material.

In our Christian life, the foundation is critical. I have spent much too much time focusing on the roof, those things that are not foundational, but merely window dressing in the Christian life. Hair splitting of minor doctrine, when Jesus has told us to love our neighbor, to love one another, to care for the weak and provide for the widow and orphan.

So, in our Christian life, what specifically is our foundation? The apostle Paul gives us direction through his letters.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

This is the foundation, the Person upon whom all the church, and creation depends on, whether they understand it or not. He is the bedrock of all that is created, and has been recreated. Without Him, there would be no church, with Him the Church can not be destroyed – They killed Him once and now He is invincible. (Big mistake on their part!)

Ephesians 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

Paul refines the concept of the foundation of the church as being the apostles and prophets, upon whom we can trust due to their dependence on the Chief Corner Stone, Jesus Christ. The teaching of the apostles and prophets can be relied upon as they were directly commissioned by the Savior to give instruction for His followers

2 Timothy 2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

This passage speaks of relationship. When I first read this verse over 40 years ago, I glibly consumed the syllables and moved on.

Not so fast Carl. God’s foundation stands. It is branded with an inscription, with two statements.

The Lord knows those who are His – This is obvious, but in my thinking, I feel Paul is speaking of God’s experiential knowledge, of a knowledge “gained” through relationship with His people. Please don’t call me out as a heretic on this, where it seems I am claiming God is gaining in knowledge and therefore deficient in some way. I don’t understand, and I may be out in left field, but the term ‘know” has the connotation of learning, or perceiving, understanding.

Relationship of our Heavenly Father and His children includes our time based condition. I do not understand how He relates to us through eternity while we are present in this evil world. But it is the first seal on the foundation, and it is how I understand it currently.

The second statement is of those who identify with the Lord, they depart from iniquity. Claiming to be a believer and continually refusing to repent of wrongdoing is, at the least hypocrisy, but I fear in reality is self deception. The Christian life is a life of continual repentance and renewal, or changing your perspective on every topic in life, of being re-educated from the dirt of the world to the truth of the Word.

My friend, if you are being challenged in an area of your life that is scary, or that will be difficult, trust in the goodness of God. If I read this verse properly, it is merely a matter of time before you repent, unless of course…

The foundation of Christianity is solid, since it is the Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting in a religion, a denomination, a way of life, a philosophy, a leader, a political party, or whatever you lean on other than the Lord, will disappoint you. If you think you are a Christian because of something other that a living relationship with Him, you will be disappointed.

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