“In the Lord I take Refuge”

(Psalm 11): (Vs.1) “In the Lord I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain; (Vs.2) For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, They make ready their arrow upon the string To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart. (Vs.3) If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Vs.4) The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. (Vs.5) The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. (Vs.6) Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. (Vs.7) For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.”

David wrote this psalm when he was being hunted down by King Saul and David’s only resource was to keep trusting in the Lord despite how he was feeling. We know from the Psalms that David went from the heights of exuberance in the Lord to plunging down into the depths of depression and despair which is a distinct mark of the psalms he wrote and the experience of multitudes of New Covenant believers at one time or another in their daily walk with the Lord. David had many enemies to contend with but also advisors who did not always encourage him to keep trusting in God when he was in an extremity beyond his human strength to handle or to control.

Let’s briefly look at this Psalm.

(Vs.1) “In the Lord I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain;”

God has said in His Word “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). In the case of King one thing that God wanted him to know was that His ways and His thoughts were not David’s ways or David’s thoughts but that God still had everything under control. In the case of David many years passed between his call and anointing to be king and when he actually sat on his throne in Jerusalem. We see how God works His sovereign will in Psalm 139 which David also wrote.

In a time of adversity there will always be those as well-intentioned as they might be, who will give us advice that does not always encourage us to keep on trusting the Lord while we are waiting for Him to answer our prayers or to fulfil His call upon our life. In this psalm King David had no way out other than to keep trusting God for what He had promised would come to pass in His way and in His time. While often some who would advise us mean well their advice does not always facilitate trust in God because of what is seen in the natural. We see this with Job’s ‘friends.’ Sometimes in our walk with the Lord we will find ourselves in what the late David Wilkerson said concerning the private war of a saint in that there are some situations which we cannot share with anyone apart from the Lord.

The Apostle Paul who experienced constant adversity gave us some very sound advice when he wrote; “For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). If anyone had problems and afflictions and adversity in life the Apostle Paul had his fair share of them, yet he had learned by experience that compared with the weight of the eternal glory and immortality to come, the present troubles were mere light and momentary afflictions. Not that they were not heavy weights to bear because they were and we cannot minimise the effects mentally, emotionally and even physically that afflictions, trials and tests had on Paul and can have on us as well.

At such times of affliction humanly speaking every fibre of our being wants to escape the pressure but the situation does not change and the answer seems a long way off. When David was advised to walk away from his situation and his call from God, which lay heavily upon him, his response was to rake refuge in the Lord. How could he seek to run away from that call on his life despite the pressure upon him to not keep looking to the Lord?

Often in the life of David as with many of God’s servants in the Bible they held on to the promises of God and through faith and patience inherited those promises God had made to them and in doing this proved time and time again that He was faithful to all of His promises (Hebrews 6:12) (Psalm 145:13). What did job say in the midst of his intense suffering? He declared even through the tears, the emotional and mental anguish and the physical torment, “When He is at work in the north, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the south, I cannot see Him. Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:9-10).

He could not ‘see’ God or ‘feel’ God but knew that God could be depended on to bring about that good thing which he had promised to do for Job and look at what happened in the end. Job was richly rewarded for his faith (Job 42:10-17). He ended his life having served his generation in the will of God and went to his eternal reward. Now let’s read further…

(Vs.2-3) “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?”

As New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus, we have to contend not only with Satan’s servants in this world, but with the spiritual powers of darkness and with principalities and powers in the atmosphere just above the surface of the earth being the habitation of Satan and fallen spirits and entities in the unseen spiritual realm (Ephesians 2:2; 6:12). Often when we are afflicted by people who seek to oppose us because we stand for the Lord Jesus, our human tendency is to blame them for afflicting us. We do not always recognise that they are merely tools in Satan’s hands to afflict us. We often forget that our real enemy is the one who lurks in the darkness and dwells in the shadows of the unseen spiritual realm, whose aim is to derail our faith in God and in His unchanging word which builds our capacity for faith to develop and grow (Romans 10:17).

All of the fiery darts of the evil one are aimed at the shield of our faith because he knows that it is faith that will defeat him and his fellow cohorts from hell every time that shield of faith is raised. He also knows that God rewards faith (Hebrews 11:6). Added to this when Satan sees us holding up the shield of faith and waving the sword of the Spirit in his direction, being God’s promises, while at the same time remaining steadfast in prayer, he takes a wide birth around us knowing that the Sword of the Spirit will wound him and frustrate his dark and devious purposes and turn aside his fiery arrows of doubt, fear and apprehension.

Satan is constantly shooting from the dark at the upright in heart. Darkness is his domain. We wield the sword of the Spirit by speaking the promises of God into that situation we are facing and also to the devil reminding him that God will not fail (Ephesians 6:16-18). If we submit to God, even when we are tempted to take any way out if we can, yet keep on resisting Satan by trusting in the faithfulness of God and His Word, then Satan will eventually flee if we do not give up. As David also wrote at one time; “From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger” (Psalm 8:2).

After this we can draw near to God and He will most assuredly draw near to us to resupply the spiritual sustenance we need to keep fighting the good fight of faith until the victory comes! (James 4:7-8) (1 Timothy 6: 12). The foundation of our faith is the Word of God and even when the winds of adversity strike at us we will spiritually stand because the foundation of our daily life is being  built on that solid foundation rock of God’s Word (Matthew 7:24-27). The fiery arrows of the devil will also be aimed at the foundation of our faith in that if he can he will try to get our eyes off of the Word of God and fixed on the adverse situation we are facing. Now let’s continue to read…

(Vs.4-5) “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.”

When David wrote this psalm he was also thinking of the Tabernacle wherein God ‘s presence resided through the Holy Spirit and also reminding himself that God’s throne was established forever in heaven and that He had everything under control including David’s situation. David also knew that while man looks on the outward appearance that God looks on the thoughts, the intents and the motives of the heart, something David had learnt from Samuel when the prophet was seeking for the king God had chosen for His people (1 Samuel 16:7). David knew he had been called by God but it was many years before that call came to pass. One thing we always need to keep in mind that “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).

David also had to contend with violent men who had it in for him and that big time. When David wrote Psalm 11 Saul was the primary one who wanted to kill David. From the time Cain killed Abel down to the present day violence has always been the main weapon Satan has used to persecute God’s people, however, those who love to commit violent acts and continue in this practice will themselves suffer violence. As it is written; “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

Today all around the globe Islam is killing faithful New Covenant believers and Jews by the sword because Islam is the ideology of the sword. We see this in the crossed swords pointing upwards on Islamic flags and banners denoting conquest by the sword, the basic fundamental tenant of Islam. We see Islam shedding the blood of God’s chosen people and other innocent people but the time is coming when the blood of the Islamic Jihadists and terrorists will flow and that by the sword of the Messiah. God is going to judge the Arab Muslim world because of its persecution of His people (Isaiah 34:5-6).

God himself is going to rain down upon the wicked snares that will entangle them and making them incapable of carrying out their malevolent violent and wicked schemes. As it is written; “He sets the lowly on high, so that mourners are lifted to safety. He thwarts the schemes of the crafty, so that their hands find no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and sweeps away the plans of the cunning” (Job 5:11-12). And again it is written; “For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. The LORD frustrates the plans of the nations; He thwarts the devices of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the purposes of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:9-11). God’s Word is the iron anvil upon which the hammers of men’s opinions, plans, perverse purposes and actions are smashed!

As God’s chosen people we may be afflicted now by wicked and unprincipled men, especially in the corridors of political power, but the time is coming when God will severely afflict with great trouble those who trouble us now and with this grant us relief when the Messiah our Lord Jesus comes back to rescue us out of this present evil age, to save Israel and to judge the world with righteousness and justice (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Fire and brimstone await all who persist in evil and throw God’s word behind their backs and trample on the people of God. This will be the lot of the armies of the man of sin who attack Jerusalem at the end of this age and that fire will even fall upon the nations that have rejected the salvation found only in the person of the Messiah our Lord Jesus (Ezekiel 38:22-23; 39:4-6).

It may seem that wicked men are getting away with their wicked schemes and acts today, especially in political circles bringing in laws and legislation that oppose the Commandments of God and mitigate against His people, but the day will come when every level of society will be shaken by God. At that time men and women of every walk in life will seek to hide from Him who sits on the throne in heaven and from the wrath of the lamb when He comes back with awesome power and with great splendour and fiery glory accompanied by his powerful angels! (Revelation 6:12-17) (Isaiah 24:1-3) (Matthew 16: 27; 25:31). Now let’s continue…

(Vs.7) “For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.”

God is a righteous God and without any sin or imperfection of any kind. He is perfect untainted light and in Him resides no darkness or devious ways at all (1 John 1:5). If we have been made the very righteous ones of God through faith in the Lord Jesus to save us, and have become partakers of that righteousness without which no one will see God, then we will behold His face when we go to be with Him if we physically die, or if we are still living on earth when He comes back (Romans 3:21-26) (Philippians 3:7-11) (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Either way we will be with the Lord forever! We will see His face even though for now we partly see through a dark glass dimly! We may know in part now but in our resurrected glorified immortal bodies we will know fully as we are known by God Himself. The darkness we have experienced will be as light to us as it is to God! (Psalm 139:11-12)

You know brothers and sisters even in the midst of his terrible afflictions Job could say; “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I will see Him for myself; my eyes will behold Him, and not as a stranger. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). If anyone suffered the fiery darts of the evil one Job did and this suffering intensified his yearning to see God face to face. God permitted Satan to touch every area of his life but not take his life.

While our suffering and adversity will vary according to God’s will for each of us individually and then only according to what He knows we can handle, we know that at the end of this life even after our skin has been destroyed, yet in our flesh, we will see God!  As John the Apostle writes; “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). As a dear brother in the Lord who has been my friend and a spiritual mentor to me for over 50 years always says to me, “Keep on keeping on with knees bent!” In all of the changing circumstances of life may we be able to say with King David; “In the Lord I take Refuge”