Psalm 11, The LORD Is in His Holy Temple
1. In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2. 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;
3. if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
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.
5. The LORD tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6. Let Him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7. For the LORD is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.
To understand this poem David wrote, we have to understand its context. It was written during a time when David’s danger was so great that even his advisers instructed him to retreat (2 Samuel 15-17). Not taking their advice, David asks, “How can you say this to me?” His advisers were making it apparent to David the abundance of their wicked enemies surrounding them, so it only made sense to retreat. If their foundations are destroyed, there is nothing they can do. The destruction of their foundations would lead to inevitable defeat.
But how does David respond? He calls to mind God’s supposed distance, restating He remains interested in human affairs (“his eyelids test the children of man”). He continues to test our deeds. When we read in Scripture God hating something, it is not “hate” in our sense of the word. When we hate a person, it is out of sin. Since God is sinless, obviously His hate must mean something entirely different. As a holy God, He finds our wicked actions repugnant. When God hates something or someone, He is repulsed. He hates the wicked—He is repulsed by the wicked. So because David and his army are surrounded by people who repulse God, he calls on Him to give his army the strength to conquer them.
Yet what does this mean for us as today as Christians? Our faith is often tested, and we are often in want of something more. However, God’s mercy toward us never dwindles like our faith does from time to time. These tests, or temptations, may come from the Devil or the world. Sometimes, these tests the enemy sends upon us makes our faith waver. The death of a friend or loved one may cause us to question God’s goodness, maybe even His existence. Financial troubles may do the same. Sometimes even God may test us. It’s hard to discern what His tests may be and their purpose. To understand this, we should consider Paul’s thorn in the flesh:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)