The Saint’s Refuge (Psalm 11)
“In the Lord put I my trust” (v. 1).
This is the summit reached in the psalm. This is the platform of blessedness to which the various dealings of God have led the soul of the psalmist. He has been surrounded by evil workers, and has been viewing that which is most stable of earth’s things breaking up, and the foundations of all which appeared abiding giving way. In the midst of all the soul has learned to find its rest and have its confidence established in Him who never fails.
Jehovah is known. He is between us and all our adversaries and all our trials. In Himself the heart finds a pillow of unfailing repose.
Thus it can challenge those who would say, “Flee as a bird to your mountain; all you could rely upon gives way, everything is over, your testimony is valueless, you may as well renounce all for which you have contended and hide yourself where you may.” This is not the language of faith. It takes full knowledge of the condition of things. It is not blind to all that is going on. The violence and fraud of those around is fully apprehended. The shaking and the quaking and the breaking of the very bases of all of earth are understood. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The next words convey an all-sufficient answer, “The Lord is.” He abides, and the foundations He lays can never be moved. All here is shakeable and will be shaken. But the godly one’s feet are on a rock that is immovable. And we “receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved” may “hold fast grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.”
His promise is that all that can be moved shall be “once more” shaken, and this signifies the removal of the passing of all that is transitory and the introduction of the permanent. And today we may rejoice that as the world which passes away totters to its fall we hail with delight the introduction of Christ’s glorious kingdom. So amid all that changes, decays and passes, the resource of faith is in God Himself—Jehovah for Israel, the Father for us, Christians. He abides. He is. Alas, that oftentimes this is forgotten, and the godly one may be well-nigh overwhelmed with sorrow and distress as he sees the moral chaos.
The child who said to her weeping, woe-begone, widowed mother, “Is God dead, mother?” may well recall us to the blessedness of God’s abidingness. He is, and He is in the temple of His holiness. He never forsakes His dwelling, or His character. And His “throne is in heaven.” His rule over everything remains. He does not and will not abdicate His throne or give His glory to another. His overruling of passing events may be unseen, but it is real. Whoever rules He overrules. And He is not indifferent to all that passes. Not a sparrow falls without our Father, and the very hairs of our heads are numbered, for we are of more value than many sparrows.
“His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men.” He sees all as He orders all events. None can escape His eye. He is the “Observer of men,” and though His mills may grind slowly yet they surely grind.
“The Lord trieth the righteous.” They are not overlooked, and with tenderest care they are trained. His love is behind all His dealings and He makes what seems most contrary to be for their good. He is set for His glory in His saints, that they may be partakers of His holiness; and also for their profit, their lasting, eternal good. Love ever moves the chastening hand. He would have us according to His own mind that we may answer to His thoughts and be in suitability to His presence.
A little fellow known to me was sent to wash himself. Failing to do so he was corrected by his mother, and again sent to the bathroom. After a while as he did not return his mother went to him and found him in tears. Asked for the reason of his sorrow he sobbed out, “I thought you loved me.” “So I do,” answered the mother. “Well,” he continued, “I like to be dirty.” But the mother wished that her boy should accord with her thought and her home, and it was not suitable that one of her children should be a discordant note in the house, nor would it be for his good that he should grow up a boy of dirty habits. And thus it is from the throne of God that things are ordered and events are shaped so that we who form God’s house, God’s temple, should be consistent with such a position.
He could not leave us to drift on without being exercised about all that which is contrary to His mind. But all He does is in love. And we do well to measure all by the cross of our Lord Jesus where the story of that love was told. He has loved us thus. He gave His Son, His only Son. Will He withhold anything which is for our good? And discipline works all things together for our good, and all which is allowed to come upon us is included. No affliction for the present seems joyous but rather grievous, but the fruit follows. It “afterward” yieldeth “peaceable fruits of righteousness.”
The truest wisdom looks behind and beyond all second causes and asks, Where is God my Father in this happening? Has He something to say to me in it all? Why has He sent this calamity, or permitted it to come? Such questioning will often bring to light something in our ways which is not suitable in those whom He has “set apart for Himself.”
“I wish God would not send the wind to blow down our hoops,” said a peevish little girl, as she trundled her wooden toy and found it thrown down again and again by the strong breeze. “God does not send the wind to blow our hoops down but to dry mother’s clothes,” replied her older and more sober sister. Her’s was true wisdom.
Are we not frequently found as short-sighted as the younger child and misjudging Him who loves us so profoundly? There is ever good at the back of the apparent evil. And the “ill that He blesses” is ever the best of “our good.”
The righteous are loved of God and are dealt with as sons in true relationship with the Father. And “what son is he whom the father chastens not?” If without chastisement we should be bastards and not sons. “I’m no bastard. I’m God’s favourite child,” said one who was subject to the heaviest of physical pain and weakness. His “dear paralysis,” as he termed it, had been the means of bringing him down low before God, and led to true repentance and salvation.
“Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with men,” and all is “that He may withdraw man from his purpose and hide pride from man” (Job 33:17). He may thwart us in our choicest designs. He may put up “No thoroughfare” on the road we longed to journey. He may humble us. But in a way inscrutable to us, and which we, in our short-sightedness, may not see, He causes the most contrary waves to bear us towards the harbour of blessing. And all creation is under His control. So it was with Jonah. A great storm was sent, a great fish was prepared, a shady gourd was caused to grow, a hungry worm was permitted to devour, a vehement east wind was allowed to blow. And all of these five things, pleasant or painful, were prepared and provided for the blessing of God’s servant.
It is worthy of our notice that “the righteous” of verse 5, of this psalm, is in the singular number. It is the individual, “the righteous one,” who is the subject of Jehovah’s care. And this should comfort us that our individual case is known by the Lord and that He is mindful of the least of His loved ones.
Two sparrows were sold for a farthing, five sparrows were sold for two farthings, but one of them (perhaps a small one thrown in, if two farthings’ worth were purchased) was not forgotten of our Father.
And we are of “more value than many sparrows.” We are chosen to be Christ’s companions eternally, to be sons in the Father’s house voicing His praise everlastingly, and to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father in the glad millennial day. Shall He not care for each one of these? Can we doubt His constant consideration or question His love? Nay, rather let us rejoice that we are under His hand of love, and remember,
“From vintages of sorrow,.
Are deepest joys distilled;
And the cup outstretched for healing,
Is oft at Marah filled.
God leads to joy through weeping,
To quietness through strife;
Through yielding into conquest,
Through death to endless life.
Be still, He hath enrolled thee
For the kingdom and the crown;
Be silent, let Him mould thee,
Who calleth thee His own.”
Solemn is the thought that the wicked one and the one who loves violence is hated of God. His government which is exercised in favour of the believer must be exercised against all evil, and judgment must be their portion, for righteous is Jehovah. And in this thought the believer rejoices. He is right and ever right. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” was Abram’s question of old. He was assured that it must be so. And so we know it is. Much may remain, and must remain, mysterious to our finite minds. How shall the finite grasp the infinite? But the righteous hide in God Himself, and are at peace with regard to all that might perplex or dismay, and cry in faith:
“And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it be His sweet will.”
He “loveth righteousness.” He delights in righteousness being manifested by His own. He would have His loved ones act consistently in every relationship in which they are found. He loves the righteous acts of the believer, giving the new life and the new power in which these acts are performed.
“His countenance doth behold the upright.” His face is caused to shine upon the one who walks in His fear and glorifies Him! Some would read, “The upright shall behold His face.” And this is the ultimate of the godly. They shall see Him and be like Him whose love they know so well. Glorious consummation!
“For ever with the Lord,
For ever like Him then;
And see His face in that blest place,
Our Father’s house in heaven.”
Help and Food 1926