When commenting on events with far reaching consequences, one of my pastors would frequently ask David’s question of Psalm 11, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” He would then answer by saying, “Go on being righteous.” In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling yesterday that struck at the foundations of society by redefining marriage and codifying sin into our nation’s law, this is a question Christians must ask, “What can the righteous do?”
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?”
Derek Kidner writes in his small commentary on the Psalms:
The feverish scene of verses 1-3 [of Psalm 11] is dwarfed by the Lord, whose name here is emphatic and reiterated. This King is in residence, not in flight: His city has ‘foundations’ (cf. Heb. 11:10), therefore the question of verse 3 can be asked without despair…The collapse of what is built on sand may be distressing; it can also be a beginning (Heb. 12:27).
So the first answer as to what the righteous can do is in David’s answer to his question in those very next verses: by looking to God and remembering that He is sovereign. He is our refuge. We can trust Him to execute justice and to keep us through the storm.
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.
Kidner also provides guidance for two other answers to what the righteous can do. He reminds us that there is a city with a foundation that never crumbles:
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.Hebrews 11:8-10
As the Apostle Paul teaches us, “our citizenship is in heaven“; we are to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth“; and in 2 Corinthians 4:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
I found a third answer as to what the righteous can do in Kidner’s reference to foundations on sand. In the passage we call the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus finished his teaching by telling a story of two houses.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
“What can the righteous do?” We are to go on being righteous by remembering God is sovereign and trusting in His punishment of the wicked and His care for us, by remembering that our citizenship is in a lasting city built by God and so setting our minds on the things above, and finally, by hearing and heeding God’s Word and building our lives on the rock that is a foundation that will never crumble .
I have other thoughts and quotes on yesterday’s ruling, but this is where we begin.
Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72 (Inter-Varsity Press, London: 1973) 73.
Waves crashing over The North Pier, Tynemouth: FreeFoto.com