“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, CSB)
It is too early to determine if the foundations have been destroyed, but certainly, they are undergoing a great shaking. While studying and meditating upon the Scripture, it was interesting to come across a wide range of reactions and interpretations. Some commenters from a pessimistic outlook claim that the question was rhetorical and that there was nothing that the righteous could do if the foundations were destroyed.
Looking at the context of this verse written by David, he begins by saying: “I trust in the Lord for protection.” (NLT). He then asked the question: “So why do you say to me, ‘Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!’” It may be true that the foundations of society and government are under attack, but the foundation upon which the children of God stand remains unshaken. I think of the great hymn of the church which says: “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
If we can look at what is happening around us from the perspective that God is allowing the shaking then we will know that our lives are built upon the foundation that cannot be shaken.
Both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us of the contrast between the wise and foolish builders. In Luke’s gospel though it tells us that the wise builder dug down deep and laid his foundation upon the rock. There are those that intend to build their lives upon Christ, but they failed to dig down deep and remove layers of debris and so there is still a separation that is revealed when the shaking begins. Charles Tindley wrote the hymn:
Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Now is the time for us to examine ourselves and ask the Lord to search us and try us. Let us be certain that we are not trusting in faulty foundations. In this world there are foundations created by man and they will eventually fail, but it is different for those who trust in the Lord: “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8, NIV)
Again, in Psalm 11 David proclaims: “But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.” (Psalm 11:4, NLT). We can have confidence and trust in God, seeking his protection because he is still right where he is supposed to be, in his temple seated on the throne.
Eugene Peterson offers this interpretation: “But God hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, his eyes taking everything in, his eyelids unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood inside and out, not missing a thing.” (Psalm 11:4, The Message)
Regarding our own standing, we remain confident in our God, but as we see earthly foundations crumbling around us, let us recall these words from Charles Spurgeon:
Courage then, my dear brethren, and to the question, “If the foundations be removed, what can the righteous do?” give this answer, “We can do as the righteous ought to do; we can do as God enables us to do.” Let us go and show the world what that will be, and let the superiority of our faith and of our religion reveal itself in our times of darkness and in our hours of suffering.
Throughout history, human foundations have been built and destroyed many times. It is difficult to get the proper perspective when we are amid trials and struggles and so we become convinced that we have arrived at the climax of history and at some point that will be true, but in the meantime, we have a responsibility and stewardship to work for our Master and his kingdom.
Foundations that fail will need to be rebuilt and to paraphrase the words of Spurgeon, who better to rebuild what has failed than the righteous. As we rely upon God, we will be shining lights and examples through what we do and what we say. It is during a time of crisis that the contrast between light and darkness is most apparent. Let us show the world what it means to be children of the King. Amen.
“They will rebuild ancient ruins on your account; the foundations of generations past you will restore. You will be called Mender of Broken Walls, Restorer of Livable Streets.” (Isaiah 58:12, CEB)