Posted by: Michelle Knoll | October 5, 2012

Thirty-One Days of Hearing His Voice {Day 5} – “Don’t panic”

There’s a Psalm I really like, and read many times.  However, this morning in devotions, as I read it again, I suddenly saw something I’d never seen before.

Take a look:

Psalm 11

For the director of music. Of David.

In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.
The Lord examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.

In the first verse, the psalmist makes a simple statement: I take refuge in the Lord.  And then the psalmist addresses another person: “How can you say to me…”  and the rest of that verse, all the way down to verse three is a quote of what the other person is saying to the psalmist.  I had not really realized this before!  And the psalmist is asking, “how can you say this stuff?”

Why is the psalmist reacting this way?  Well, the other person appears to be panicking.  Even though there’s not a lot of exclamation points in the English translation, it’s not very positive talk.  “Flee as a bird to the mountain” and “if the foundations are destroyed” aren’t very confident words at all, you know?  And this other person also says the enemy is attacking them from the darkness, meaning there’s no way to even know what the enemy is up to, so how can they defend themselves?

But the psalmist says, “How can you say things like that to me?”  In other words, “Dude!  Will you calm down?”

And then the psalmist goes on to state facts about the Lord:  He’s in His temple, He’s on His throne, He sees everything that’s going on, the righteous will see His face, but the wicked ones will receive fiery coals and burning sulfur raining down on them.

The psalmist is calm, the person he’s talking to is not.  The psalmist stays in an attitude of trust, the other person is ready to run.  I don’t know about you, but I want to develop the same attitude as the psalmist.

Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t pray.  As a matter of fact, we need to pray harder when we see a lot of evil in the world.  But we don’t need to panic.  We need to proclaim.  Proclaim just as the psalmist did.  The Lord is on His Throne!  The Lord is in His Temple!  He sees it all!  And He WILL deal with the wicked!

Amen!  Hallelujah!

For years, when I read this psalm, I focused only on the verse that says, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  I struggled with its negative tone because, to be honest with you, I’m not too thrilled at the prospect of the foundations (the defenders of what is right and good) being destroyed.  I’m sure you wouldn’t be thrilled with that either.  And I always figured that the psalm meant that if the foundations were destroyed, then we’d all better be heading for the mountains, because it was going to get really bad.

But that’s not what this psalm is about at all.  This psalm is about a position of trust standing against a position of doubt and panic and negative talk.  Yet I never saw this psalm as a conversation between two people, before this morning.

You know what?  When I sensed the Lord say this morning, “Go back and read this again.  Take another look,” I had no idea how comforting it would be.

But then, that’s the way He is, you know?  He is our comfort.


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