August 23, 2021
Three Rivers District
Psalm 11 NRSV
1 In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me,
“Flee like a bird to the mountains;[a]
2 for look, 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 behold, his gaze examines humankind.
5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
and his soul hates the lover of violence.
6 On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur;
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.
God Is My Refuge
In Psalm 11, the Psalmist is responding to an unnamed speaker who is urging him to “flee like a bird to the mountains,” in the face of a threat from the wicked and unrighteous. The speaker goes on in verse 3 to say, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
This image of crumbing foundations and destabilized structures is especially powerful as we deal with unprecedented change and stress. It often seems that the forces of darkness are looming ever larger and threatening all we hold dear. It is helpful to note the Psalmist rejects the call to flee. He insists that refuge is found in God, who is on his throne and whose gaze misses nothing.
The people of God have always been called to balance faithfulness and practicality. There are times when fleeing is the proper response, and times when we are called to stand firm in our faith. The challenge is discerning which is which. For example, in the gospel of Luke, Jesus slipped away from a murderous crowd in his hometown and went “on his way” (Luke 4:30). Yet when the time was right, Jesus stood firm in the face of lies, torture, and crucifixion in order to be faithful to what the Father wanted.
Jesus also tells us to love our enemies. As much as we might enjoy the image of God raining down fire and sulfur on those who harm or malign us, we are called to pray for those who persecute us. We are called to remember that the God who loves the righteous will sort things out in his own good time.
So, what are we to do? We are to use the tools and resources God has provided to take care of ourselves and each other. We are also called to remember that our ultimate safety, our ultimate refuge, is not in this world. Our refuge is in God, who has many rooms prepared for us in heaven.
PrayerEternal, loving, and righteous God:
Be our refuge and our strength,
a very present help in times of trouble.
Give us wisdom and courage,
that we may know when to stand firm in faith,
or when to flee to the mountains of refuge.
You have given us all good gifts.
Guide us that we may grow in your knowledge and grace,
that our lives may be testimonies to your righteousness.
In Jesus name, Amen.